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Category: Family time (page 1 of 6)

Help Them Take the Next Step

As parents, we are the spiritual leaders of our children.

If I’m being honest, I’ve never been comfortable with the phrase, spiritual leader.  Not because I don’t believe it.  I actually think it’s 100% accurate.  I haven’t been comfortable with it, because it feels like a measuring stick or a standard that I most likely fall short of attaining.

Or maybe it’s the words themselves.  Spiritual.  Leader.
Do I meet the qualifications for these words?  Do “spiritual leaders” have flaws, because it doesn’t really sound that way.

We often avoid the role of spiritual leader because we think it means we can only listen to worship music with our kids or have to pray all the time or…fill in the blank.

If you feel this way, I get it.

But like it or not, we are the spiritual leaders of our children and I don’t think it’s as hard as we make it out to be.  You don’t have to have a lot of biblical knowledge or be like your pastor to be qualified for this job.  You are qualified as you are.  You don’t have to be trained in how to do this, you just have to help them take the next step.

HELP THEM TAKE THE NEXT STEP

I love the way Reggie Joiner puts it:

“Here’s a definition that can put us all at ease for just a second.  What if we redefine spiritual leadership?  What if spiritual leadership is simply helping your child take a positive step in their relationship with God.”

This means it’s not about knowing everything you need to know about spiritual life now, you just need to know one thing that helps them move in the right direction.

You may not know everything, but I bet you know one thing!  And with that one thing, you can have a positive spiritual impact!

YOU ALREADY KNOW HOW TO DO THIS

You do this everyday – many, many times a day – in other areas of life.  You help your kids take a positive step in education by helping them with their homework…or in being healthy by limiting their sugar intake…or in daily life by teaching them to tie their shoes…or in personal hygiene by reminding them to put on deodorant…you help them in athletics by spending time practicing with them.  The same thing applies to their spiritual life engage them and help them move in a positive direction.

Here’s what I’ve learned recently  – small investments over time are more powerful than I think.  But it’s not always magical in the moment.  It take a bit of patience.  But I’ve found that if I will just engage in their spiritual life in a simple way, it will often lead to many other opportunities to engage them spiritually down the road.  Here’s a few examples:

  • For awhile I decided to point out sunrises or clouds or trees, etc and say something like “isn’t it crazy God thought to create all these cool things!”  Easy stuff that anybody can do.  Again, nothing happens in the moment, but several weeks later I get this question – “You know how you said God created all these things (literally weeks later), well who created God?”
    • (NOTE:  This may be a scary question for you, but I don’t know that the answer matters as much as an openness to talk about it.  It’s the conversation that matters.  You could simply respond with, “that’s a really interesting question, what do you think?” or “I have no idea, but we can explore it together later, would you want to do that?”  I opted for the answer a question with a question in this particular moment.)
  • When a  family member passed away, we gathered our kids in the kitchen to let them know.  We were prepared for big emotions and the need to explain that heaven is a special place and we are going to be ok.  Honestly, they took it in stride and showed no emotion in that conversation.  We were shocked and a bit surprised, but shared with them and moved on.  Then weeks later, as we are driving a question about heaven.  Two months later, as we are going to bed a reference to  that family member enjoying heaven.  Nothing in the moment, but the initial conversation led to many other moments of spiritual conversations.
  • Saying prayers every night before bed – simple, not fancy (sometimes even in the middle of a lot of frustration about the bedtime routine), prayers.  Most nights the kids are silly or robotic in what we’ve taught them to say, but every now and then they pray something that hits you in the gut.  They get it, not because we explained it, but because we showed up and prayed each night.  We helped them take the next step by modeling it over weeks and years and then it becomes beautiful.

So, how can you help your child take the next positive step in their relationship with God this week?  It doesn’t have to weighty or heavy or cerebral – in fact, it’s better if it’s not!

Maybe it’s practicing praying before meals…or simply making it to church this week…or pointing out a great sunset and thanking God for his creation…or putting a note in their lunchbox reminding them they are loved by God and by you.

Whatever it is, you can be the spiritual leader this week by helping them take the next step.  Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.

 

I’m thankful for this podcast in regards to this idea – check it out –

 

 

Distracted Worship Is Better Than We Think

I was about to give up and take her back downstairs.  Our church has recently made a significant shift to inviting families to worship together.  I had no other options for my elementary child, but the Pre-K still had childcare downstairs and the constant movement, bouncing, distractions…were about to push me over the edge.  If she puts that Moses finger puppet in my face one more time…

One parent shares it like this:

“Attending worship with small children in tow can feel like trying to sleep with a helicopter hovering over your bed. What you want is refreshment and inspiration; what you get is low-level tension, discomfort, and distraction as you brace yourself for what might happen next.”

You may be able to relate.  However, I’ve become more and more convinced, that I’d much rather have my squirmy, noisy kids in worship with us than anywhere else.  It is worth it.  They may not be picking up everything (or anything) from the sermon or having a significant spiritual moment each week or any week for that matter…

But that may not be the point.

The point may be something closer to learning by immersion.  It might be closer to the power of being together over time.  It might have benefits that I never fully see until much later in life.  Despite all the distractions and hassle, it might just be worth it.

“My husband and I sometimes joke that we attend the 9:10 service (our church’s first Sunday service begins at 9am.) It doesn’t seem to matter how early we begin to get everyone ready; by the time Bibles are found, shoes and coats are donned (and hats, mittens, and boots during Minnesota winters), and the bathroom has been visited by all, we will be ten minutes late to church.

While sometimes discouraged about our seemingly perpetual tardiness, for years we overlooked an important evidence of grace: our family was in church, together. We were late, but we were there. All of us. That fact alone declares something about God. He is worth a great deal to our family. He is worth the hassle, the effort, and the work it takes to get there. He is worth the embarrassment of showing up late. He is so worthy of all of it, and of so much more. That is what worship is: declaring God to be worthy, with our words and our actions.

The hassle, tension, and effort are all worth it.  God is worth it.  Community is worth it.  Our family together, moses finger puppet and all, is worth it.  Honestly, once I really believe this – the hassle, tension, and effort start to fade out a bit.

She continues,

“But our continued presence in worship as a family is not the only declaration of God’s worth that occurs when we attend service together. In the pews, as I interact with my children, my actions declare something about God, too. They may declare that he is patient and kind, and wants to draw them into his presence; or, they may declare that God is annoyed, impatient, and eager to discipline. While there is a place for setting and enforcing boundaries for the good of our family and others, how we go about it declares something about God to those around us — especially to our children.

Most preliterate children will remember little, if any, of the sermon they hear on Sunday. The preacher’s advanced vocabulary and abstract ideas are difficult for young children to follow. They may not be able to read all the words to the songs.

But they will remember questions patiently answered, instructions given in kindness, and boundaries explained through the lens of God’s great worth. They will recall Mom’s arm around their shoulder or Dad’s lifting them up so they can see during the singing. They will remember joyful faces singing and worn Bibles opened during the sermon. These are the legacy of parental worship, regardless of how many times it was interrupted.

There is often more going on than we notice and this is a great reminder of how much they are taking in.

They absorb more than they can express.  They learn more than they show.  They are forming more ideas about mystery, community, and God than they let on.  One Sunday isn’t magical on it’s own, but the repetition over time makes a significant impact.

If you’re ready to throw in the towel as I was last week, I hope this encourages you to see it all as worth it, because it is.

“So, when someone asks me whether or not we were able to worship while sitting with our littles, I hope I can say (regardless of how much of the sermon we caught, or how many songs we were able to sing beginning to end), “Yes! God was there, and he met us.”

You can read the full post referenced above here:  Worship Interrupted

Get Some Rest

I imagine you could use some rest.

I’ve had a goal for the last several years, but I’ve rarely lived into it. The goal: Get up early, before the kids wake up, and start the day off right. However, it’s more likely that I snooze the alarm, wake up to the baby monitor and live the rest of my day on that day’s terms. Or, to say it another way…I’m in reaction mode.

We’ve all been there.
We react to the baby monitor.
Then we react to the kids morning routine.
Then it’s off to work, carpools, dinner, bed time routine…and on it goes.

I’m rarely ahead of myself on these day and I’m typically just making it all up as I go. Wait, did I eat breakfast?

REACTION VS. REST

I recently heard Jon Tyson, Pastor of Trinity Grace Church in NYC, share something I’d never thought about before. He pointed out that in creation God created man on the 6th day. He created man with a job to do. He gave man dominion over everything in the garden — he was to take care of and steward the creation.

So Adam wakes up on the 7th day eager and ready to get start making things happen and God says, “Not today. Today is a day for rest.”

When Adam eventually did start his work, he started from a place of rest.

WE’VE GOT IT BACKWARDS

We do this backwards – we work and then collapse in exhaustion. We don’t stop to rest, eventually our body just forces us to rest.

Imagine starting your day or week off from a place of rest. I have no doubt I would be a better parent. The few times I have actually gotten up early, spent time with Jesus and coffee – I greet my waking kids with a attentive presence, with joy, and a better handle on how I can encourage them for the day.

(Now, I just need to get to bed at a decent time…)

Whether you are a believer or not, there is something incredibly compelling about the Christian idea of Sabbath. What would it look like for you to schedule rest into your busy, hectic life? What would it take for you to do this?  Can you allow yourself to not be “productive” for a period of time and just be present?

One of the things that Sabbath reminds us is that we are worth more than what we create. That we have inherent value. That we can shut things down for a time and enjoy, study, spend time with family, get outside, or just sit and relax on the porch while watching the kids be free to play.

I imagine you could use some rest.

You have my permission to take time to get it.

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