Childhood spiritual styles: Enthusiastic Style

Childhood spiritual styles: Enthusiastic Style

The different ways children experience God can be called their spiritual style. With their mind and heart they form a positive relationship with God in the best, most natural way for each of them.

Many styles within the same spiritual tradition

Typically you and the children in your life share a family spiritual tradition but we do not necessarily live out our faith or our ethics in the same ways.   Adults will be more effective in helping children make their own discoveries about God and life when we understand their natural impulses (and our own).

The Enthusiastic Style: The child celebrates the power and presence of God through excitement.

Note the items that apply to children in your life to determine whether they posses an enthusiastic style of spirituality.

  1. For this child, being excited about God is an important aspect of faith.
  2. The God of this child’s understanding is a God of action.
  3. It is important to the child to experience coincidences where he believes God is alive and active in the world.
  4. The child doesn’t want to be bored.
  5. The child desires to join in on God’s work in the world.
  6. It is important for the child to feel the presence of God.
  7. The child likes to pray for things we would call miracles.

Discovery questions for enthusiastic children

  • Where did you find yourself laughing, crying, joyful or inspired by something God did?
  • What needs do you see that you’d jump at the chance to meet?
  • What have you done in your life that you’d love to do more of?
  • What experiences do you want to have in your lifetime? How do they relate to God?
  • What do you see God is doing all around you?
  • Where did you feel God’s powerful presence in a situation?

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz.

Tweetable:  Enthusiastic children feel God’s power and presence even when we do not, so don’t discourage them. Click to Tweet

 

Childhood spiritual styles: Sharing Style

Childhood spiritual styles: Sharing Style

Has anyone ever asked you about your personal spiritual style? Has anyone ever offered to support you in exactly that area, the area of your strongest receptiveness for the divine? Or has it been your experience that most [people] are so focused on their own approach to God that they believe it is the right one, or at least the best one, for everyone else?

Researcher Christian Schwarz posed these questions as he explained why he considers his study identifying spiritual styles to be important in understanding how both adults and children seek and find God. In recent posts, we discussed Sensory, Rational and Bold Idealistic styles. Here we add another.

sharing by helping my sisterThe Sharing Style: A child passes on the grace of God through service.

Note the statements that apply to children in your life to help identify whether they may possess a sharing style of spirituality.

  1. The child strongly senses God’s presence whenever they show grace and forgiveness to others.
  2. Often the child’s prayers are for people who aren’t experiencing love from other people and/or God.
  3. The child is drawn to service projects and other ways to share with others.
  4. The child notices and comments when people do random acts of kindness in everyday life.
  5. The child expresses a desire to respond to the hurts and needs of people.
  6. The child looks for ways to include everyone.
  7. You can see the child’s faith grow when he experiences God in his interactions with people.

Discovery questions for sharing children:

If you can identify four or more of the statements above you can probably recall several times when the child connected with God through sharing.

young child is sharing by helpingThe following questions may be useful as you seek to strengthen the area of their strongest receptiveness for the divine.

  • How did you experience God by giving?
  • How did you see God in other people’s kind actions?
  • What does this show you about God?
  • How were you feeling when someone shared with you?
  • How does that connect with who God is?
  • When were you able to forgive someone who wronged you?

Coming up: The Enthusiastic style

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz.

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Childhood spiritual styles: Bold Idealistic Style

Childhood spiritual styles: Bold Idealistic Style

A child’s spiritual style is not the same as personality or character. Rather, it describes the way the child most naturally connects with God. Our aim here is to give adults some tools for leading children to discover and experience further growth in their faith in a way that connects to them most effectively.

Previously we discussed sensory style and rational style. Now we look at a third way children express their individual style.

bold idealistic kids seek truthThe Bold Idealistic Style:  A child thinks correctly about God through doctrines and truth.

Note the items below that apply to the children in your life to assess their inclination toward this style. .

  1. A theological system that reflects God’s truth helps the child in her spirituality.
  2. The child possesses unwavering belief that this theological system is correct.
  3. The accuracy of the child’s beliefs is of utmost importance.
  4. The child demonstrates a strong sense of justice.
  5. It is important to the child that his faith does not depend on emotion.
  6. The child feels close to God when she takes a stand for a cause even at great personal expense.

Discovery questions for bold idealistic children

bold idealistic kids need sacred writingsIf you notice four or more of the above characteristics, the child probably has a natural pattern of taking unwavering stands for his or her convictions. The following questions may be useful as you seek to help children mature in their style.

  • How did you express your beliefs and convictions today?
  • What attitude did you have?
  • When is your anger triggered by an injustice?
  • What kind of courage will you need to stand up for truth and justice?
  • How do you defend the needs, worth and convictions of a person, an animal or a cause?

Adapted from Christian A. Schwarz, The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality.

Tweetable: Children with strong convictions can see their bold idealism influence even spiritual beliefs. Click to Tweet

Childhood spiritual styles: Rational Style

Childhood spiritual styles: Rational Style

In what environment does your child feel particularly close to God? It’s not that God is objectively closer to them in those situations, but that they feel God’s closeness more, they sense God to be closer to them.

These “locations” reveal a child’s spiritual style.

Spiritual style is the way we receive the never-ending stream of communication God sends out to humankind.–Christian A. Schwarz

rational high school studentsThe Rational Style: A child understands the nature of God through logic and science.

Note the items that apply to children in your life to determine whether they likely possess a rational style of spirituality.

  1. The child’s views the study of science as a wonderful way to learn more about God.
  2. You would say that the child loves God with her mind.
  3. The child is curious to find truth wherever it may appear.
  4. Intellectually learning something new about God is a deep spiritual experience for the child.
  5. The child considers it positive to have a critical mindset toward spiritual questions.
  6. The child is skeptical toward a faith that constantly offers “easy solutions.”
  7. It is important for the child’s faith that his mind is regularly stimulated.

Discovery questions for rational children

rational middle school studentIf you notice five or more of these characteristics, the child probably has a well-established pattern of expressing spirituality with their mind.

The following questions may be useful as you seek to strengthen their connection with God:

  • What questions about God does this raise?
  • What is puzzling about it?
  • Where is God’s truth in it?
  • How are your doubts causing your own faith to gain power and depth?
  • What do you want to explore further?

Coming up: The Bold Idealistic Style

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz

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Childhood spiritual styles: Sensory Style

Childhood spiritual styles: Sensory Style

“A spiritual style is a God-given antenna for the divine.” German philosopher Christian Schwarz’ research into how people connect with God gives insight into the way each child most naturally experiences God.

Many years ago I adapted Mr. Schwarz’ findings for my own personal use with the children in my life and I will pass this along in the next several posts.

sensory surfers love the big waveThe Sensory Style:  A child enjoys the works of God through beauty and perception.

Note the items that apply to children in your life to determine whether they likely possess a sensory style of spirituality.

  1. The child’s awareness of God is very much influenced by artistic or natural beauty.
  2. You would say that the child is very perceptive to what is happening around him.
  3. The child’s faith grows with her ability to enjoy nature more fully.
  4. Art has a high spiritual impact on the child.
  5. The child frequently perceives God’s presence in the everyday aspects of life where other people see nothing spiritual.
  6. The child likes to use touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing to encounter God.
  7. The child enjoys being surrounded by physical objects that have spiritual meaning.

cherries on a tree sensory treatDiscovery questions for sensory children

If you notice five or more of these characteristics, the child probably has a well-established pattern of expressing spirituality through their senses.

The following questions may be useful as you seek to strengthen their connection with God:

  • What does this show you about God?
  • What characteristics of God do you see?
  • What do you like about that?
  • How does that connect with who God is?
  • What thoughts and feelings come up?
  • How does that relate to God?
  • How do you experience God in this?

Coming up: The Rational Style

Adapted from The 3 Colors of Your Spirituality, by Christian A. Schwarz.

Tweetable:  A sensory child enjoys the works of God through beauty and perception. Read more here. Click to Tweet

 

Kids ask, “How can I let God know I love God?”

Kids ask, “How can I let God know I love God?”

Hopefully these sample answers, which you can adapt to your specific beliefs, provide some seed ideas for conversation. They are written at a child’s vocabulary level. What you are saying and doing now will help lay crucial groundwork for their exploration of God later in life.

You can use any way you want to let God know you love God.

It’s just like you have different ways of letting your family and friends know how you feel. Some kids like to write a letter to God. Most tell God in words they say out loud or keep in their thoughts (this is called prayer). Others draw something that expresses their love, write a poem or a song.

One important way to express your love for God is to love yourself.

Take very good care of yourself. You know many ways to do that, like giving your body enough sleep and healthy food, staying safe by listening to wise adults, and paying attention to your relationship with God. You love God when you admire and care for yourself.

Another way is to love people.

An equally important way to express your love for God is to love people by being as good to them as you are to yourself. That can mean sacrificing your comfort or happiness in order to treat someone well. A lot of trouble would vanish if everyone were as good to other people as they are to themselves.

Spend time with others who love God as much or more than you do.

Your family can help you find a youth group, a church, synagogue, or other place with kids your age who have a connection with God. You can find a sense of belonging. You might learn different ways they use to let God know how much they love God.

Tweetable: What to say when a child asks, “How can I let God know I love God?” Seed ideas here for you to adapt. Click to Tweet