A few years ago our family decided to do a family devotional time at dinner. In the daily rhythms of our lives, it was a time where the entire family came together, sat down and talked. I would like to tell you it went perfectly every night, but that simply would not be the truth.
One night we discovered that my youngest daughter’s sudden eagerness for prayer time was not because she longed to boldly come before the throne of grace. Instead, she had observed that everybody’s eyes were closed during prayer and it would be a perfect time to feed the dog her vegetables.
There have also been times when my children suddenly decided they no longer liked a particular food, and the only appropriate way to express that was to have a nuclear meltdown at the dinner table. Needless to say, we did not have a particularly enthralling devotional time those nights.
While confession is good for the soul, I don’t share these things for my benefit, but for yours. You see, I think that one of the main reasons many families are not having an intentional time of family discipleship is because they feel inadequate. Oftentimes, this is because they never experienced a time like this growing up, which leads to unrealistic expectations of what is to take place. If that’s you, let me offer you three lessons that I have learned from my own imperfect attempt to teach my children to love the Lord our God with their whole being.
I think that one of the main reasons many families are not having an intentional time of family discipleship is because they feel inadequate.
- Our children’s salvation and spiritual growth are not dependent on our perfection.
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. A parent’s walk with the Lord plays a tremendous role in their child’s spiritual formation. Therefore, do your best to be holy as He is holy. Yet, remember that it wasn’t your perfection that saved you, and it will not be your perfection that leads to your child’s salvation or spiritual growth. Rather, it is by the precious grace of God that we are saved through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Instead of debilitating yourself with a burden that Christ has already borne, find rest, hope and encouragement in Him.
- Our failures can be powerful lessons.
One of the most powerful lessons we can give our children is to show them how to repent of sin. We can do this only when we stop pretending to be perfect, which is why understanding the first point above is so important. The next time you sin against your child, perhaps by losing your patience and yelling at them in anger, choose an appropriate time to come back to them, confess that what you did was wrong, and ask them to forgive you. Use this time to remind them that we are all sinners in need of the grace and forgiveness that can only be found in Christ.
- Our faithfulness is more important than our feelings.
Sometimes as parents, we feel like we are not getting anywhere with our children. I felt this way with my youngest when she saw our family prayer time as an opportunity to get rid of her vegetables! Yet, we have continued to make family devotionals an important priority in our home and, by the grace of God, my youngest is starting to truly seek Him in prayer. In our disciple-making at home, may we take to heart Paul’s admonition to “…not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).”