Our family was blessed to have Ken and Betsy join us for dinner in our home. What intrigued me about them was that all three of their grown children are following Christ and using their gifts to serve in ministry. The week prior to our dinner, we heard their son preach at their church and while there, met their daughter and son-in-law who work for Hillsong Church in Australia. They can say with confidence that there is “no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.” 3 John 4
As full-time pastors of The House (http://www.thehousepalmbay.org), they raised kids who love the church and love the Lord and they continue to intentionally minister to their grandchildren. I had to ask them to share some spiritual parenting tips. So, around the dinner table that night, I asked, “Would you share with us the things that contributed to your children growing to love the Lord?”
This list serves as a great reminder for all of us, which we can refer to often:
- Complete dependence upon God. Betsy said, “We didn’t do anything without prayer. We wanted them to taste God’s goodness.” They said there were times when they didn’t have any food in the fridge, leaving them with only one option: prayer. God miraculously answered with people showing up with food without them sharing their predicament with anyone but the Lord. Their children experienced God at work!!!
- One-on-one time with Dad. Ken intentionally spent time with them individually on a weekly basis. He took them on a walk around the block with the purpose of connecting with them at a heart level and at the same time sharing God’s truths.
- The Message. They gave each of their children The Message version of the Bible and asked them to read through the New Testament one summer. [No matter your opinion of The Message, it is a great read for children.]
- Hour for hour. At one point, they instituted a rule: for every hour you read the Bible, you get one hour of electronics such as watching TV or playing video games.
- TV in the closet. For 30 days, they would put the TV in the closet with the purpose of spending time together as a family playing, reading, etc. Fasting from electronics will bind the family together.
- Family Dinners. They regularly had dinner together; communicating, connecting, sharing life.
- Served Together. They put others first by serving together as a family. How impactful to serve alongside mom and dad!
- Worship music. Not just Christian music, but music that was relevant and worshipful. They would spend time worshipping as a family. Who said we had to wait until Sunday morning?
Ken and Betsy lived out their faith at home, with their children. Faith was a part of everyday life; it was a way of life; Jesus was talked about at home; the Holy Spirit was sought during prayer at home; the Word was read, discussed and taught at home.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:7
Thanks, Ken and Betsy, for leading many people at church in faithful living, but also for giving us an example to follow in the way you led your home.
Here are some practical ideas and questions based on the above. You can use these personally, discuss with your spouse, or share with your small group:
- Complete dependence upon God. How do our kids see God at work? Have they experienced God answering prayers? Our kids must see God at work TODAY. If we want our children to grow into teens and adults who believe that God is more than a fairy tale, we must lead them to experience God at work TODAY. Read more here.
- One-on-one time with Dad. Your role is so important. How much time do you spend connecting with your kids one on one? Click here for more “Dad Stats” to see how important our role is in influencing the spirituality of our family.
- Served Together. When have your kids seen you serve others? What are some ways your family can serve alongside you? Discuss and set a plan.
- Worship music. What are some of your favorite worship songs/artists? How often do you have them playing? Are you in a worshipful spirit, or mindlessly listening? Idea: Set up Spotify or Pandora to a station and play it often as you work together worshipfully. Pick some songs and play a few while you dance before the Lord like David. The kids will love it!
- Family Dinners. Does your family dinners allow time for discussion? Could this be a time we catch up on each others’ lives? Could we take 10 minutes for a devotion? If getting everyone together for family dinners is a struggle, plan ahead and schedule some nights where everyone knows they need to be home. (We have friends who had very active teenage boys and even after they had their driver’s license, they still knew they better be home for dinner or momma wasn’t going to be happy.) Have device-free dinners.
- Time Together. Do we sit with the purpose of connecting and sharing God’s values? Do we take time to connect at a heart level with our kids? Can I honestly say I know what each of our kids are experiencing at a heart level? Where are our kids struggling in their faith? How have they been encouraged through the Word lately? What are they reading in the Word?
- Time Together II. Collect those tablets/cell phones and turn off the TV at least once a week to spend time talking, playing a board game, or just hanging out in the living room. It doesn’t have to be a whole night event, but rather 30 minutes more often is better than nothing at all. (Doing something more frequently for a short duration is better, because it’s easy to miss out on the long event. When it comes to all that techy stuff, I use an app called Screen Time which can set time limits on everything. If you are interested in hosting our Parenting Techies workshop, you can read more HERE.