I received an email from a reader sometime before the new year regarding how our family seeks to lead our children to the Word of God. Though we corresponded months ago, she gave me permission to share part of her email on this post:
My husband and I have been talking tonight about the spiritual disciplines of our family. Many times, we find ourselves coming up with creative ideas for family devotionals, worship, etc. but our follow-through is lacking. We would like to do more with our boys (aged 9 and almost 6) than just the nightly family devotional...We also don’t want it to be stale or to end up primarily being about character issues we’re unhappy with...I thought of you and your husband. Is your husband doing specific things as he leads your family that you can share? I hope you don’t mind me asking this personal question. Our oldest just turned 9 and we are realizing that we have been falling short in this area with him and there is undesirable fruit as a result. Thank you so much for any help you might be able to offer.
I asked my sweet husband to guest post in response to her questions, as I think his insights will be a blessing and reminder for us all:
Maybe the best place to begin is to say that we too fall short. You would think that spending time with our amazing God would be easy. You might think that we would have to pull ourselves away from prayer and the Word so we can get earthly things done. But that is obviously not the case. There are so many things that compete for our attention.
I recently read these very convicting words from John Calvin: “Whoever has obtained Christ wants nothing that is necessary to perfect happiness, since we have no right to desire anything better than the eternal glory of God, of which Christ puts us in possession.” I firmly believe that the starting point with our kids is to keep our own heart. Our faith must be caught as it is taught. We certainly need creative effort in our family devotions and other teaching moments. But what speaks the loudest is what they observe in us. What do we value as a family? What do we spend our free time doing? What do we talk about with the greatest excitement? It is not that we can’t be enthusiastic about a hobby, for example, but how does that excitement fit with our faith. Does it compete or complement? I want my boys to see my wife and me diligently reading the Word, making sacrifices in order to have time with God. I want Christ to be at the center of our family culture.
So how do we do that on a practical level? Here are some things we are trying to be consistently about in our household:
- *We are working on memorizing the book of Philippians (John Piper's example is inspirational.)
- *We often listen to John MacArthur podcasts at the breakfast table or in the car.
- *We pray together before school and before bed and other random times. (Don’t forget to ask your children specifically how you can pray for them as well.)
- *We try to do all corrective discipline with Scripture (Wise Words For Moms is a great resource.)
- *We are reading through the Bible in a year using the ESV Daily Reading Plan, and we do that in the morning with our oldest, before the rest of the household gets up. For the non-reading younger boys, we let them listen to audio Bible on the ipod, while thumbing through a picture Bible. You can get a free audio Bible download here.
To sum it up, I think we need to read Deuteronomy 6 and be intentional about how we are going to saturate our lives with the Word, realizing that all of this must take place in the context the Church and Gospel-centered relationships. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
God bless you and your husband in your efforts to train up your children in the way they should go.