Family Devotional: Patience and Self-Control

This summer, we’re excited to have two different lesson units for the Preschool-Elementary kids on Sunday mornings! June 5-26 and July 10-24, we will be doing a Dr. Seuss-inspired unit on the Fruits of the Spirit, and August 7-21, we will be learning about interacting with God and the Holy Spirit through prayer, worship, and the Bible, all with an Olympics theme! Each of these lesson weeks, our staff will bring you a devotional idea you can use with your kids to help them take what they just learned on Sunday morning and integrate it into their daily lives.

By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor

Woodland Hills Church

Galatians 5 lists fruits or outward actions/expressions that result in being connected to God. These fruits are an expression of our transforming heart as we gain a deeper understanding of God and are reminded that He knows us intimately. Of all the fruits listed, patience and self-control are the two that seem the most difficult to envision as a consistent part of my life. Don’t get me wrong – I desire patience, especially when dealing with irritating people or a child that just keeps bugging me and bugging me and bugging me and, uh, well, you get the point. I’m sure none of you can relate. In fact, I’ve come to believe that patience is missing from my gene pool. I come from a long line of relatives with a weak ability to patiently handle stress, irritation, or discomfort. I’m not sure where this genetic mutation first began, but the legacy has continued for several generations. So, believe me when I say patience was not modeled well in my childhood.

Then there is that next fruit: self-control, a word that has been feared by many throughout time. It is such a big deal in our culture that we have huge sections of libraries and bookstores dedicated to self-help. People crave the ability to control their eating habits, their relationships, their desires, and emotions. We see it on New Years’ Day when many people create a resolution and hope that this year will be different than the past. What usually happens with these resolutions? Most fail miserably in a short time. Here again my genetics have let me down. My family line has struggled with controlling their desires. You name it: alcoholism, overeating, over-spending, and the list goes on.

I’ve hit the opposite of genetic jackpot when it comes to these two fruits. Even when I concentrate my efforts and will towards patience or self-control, I can only manage success for short bursts and even then, the results might be mixed. However, once I realize that I cannot do this alone, that’s when God can really shine. My dependence upon Him draws me close and that is when the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, and my Counselor shines through. The Fruits of the Spirit are a result of me + Jesus = new life.

When sharing the Fruit of the Spirit with our children, we can let them know that it is okay if we can’t do this alone because when we trust in God, when we let Him change us, then we will shine with His fruits.

Here are some ideas for sharing the fruit of patience & self-control with kids:

  • When you come upon an apple tree, what do you expect to see? Apples. The Fruit of the Spirit is what people might expect to see if someone is living their life for Jesus.
  • Save a rotting piece of fruit and have a good piece available. Then ask your children: “Which piece of fruit would you rather eat?” We desire to have fruit that isn’t rotten. We want fruit that looks healthy, tasty, and ripe. Following God’s ways helps us to be that healthy fruit and not a rotten fruit.
  • Ask them to think about fruit: It’s good for you, it keeps you healthy, and it reproduces more fruit. If you do things that are good for you, do things to be healthy and following God’s ways, then you are being what God wants for you and that looks like fruits of the Spirit.
  • Talk to your children about ways that they can grow closer to God: Reading their Bible, prayer, worship, going to Heroes Gate, and hanging out with other followers of Jesus. These are things that help healthy fruit grow in our lives. Just like fruit trees need sunshine, rain, and food to grow healthy fruit, we need to know God and stay connected to Him (like a friendship). Plant a bean seed and as it grows, remind kids to care for their hearts, as well.

Attached you will find a few activity pages, crafts, and coloring sheets to reinforce understanding of the Fruits of the Spirit in the lives of your little ones.

Patience & Self Control pages

patience copy

self-control copy

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