Pastoring a Family

Now that Micah is getting older, I have found how much of a challenge pastoring my own family is becoming.  I don’t mean to say that the family is becoming difficult, but I find that it is stretching me more and more.  I’ve known that I want to have my home model a Christ-centered, Cross-centered family, but I’m finding that more and difficult to do.  For some things, it just doesn’t come naturally.  For example, when it comes to discipline, the easy thing is to tell Micah no and discipline him.  What needs to happen next, though, is an explanation of how that was displeasing to God and disrespectful to me.

I don’t know if it is the fact that this side of my own personal ministry is much more real and immediate for me, but it seems to be much more intimidating than my pastoral ministry.  I guess I feel a sense of confidence that I have been there and done that to a certain degree with Youth Ministry and have a handle on where things are going, but everything is so different and new when it comes to parenting and spiritual training my own family.  And it seems like the impact is much more long lasting, as I’m completely responsible for how I guide my wife and son.

I’ve had general ideas of what I want to do, but life never allows plans to be simple.  Obviously I know many of the general truths of parenting and have read many books on the subject, but it is sometimes more of an art than science.  You know the truths, but applying them can take wisdom and experience.  I want Micah to learn how to pray, learn to study his Bible, grow a Biblical worldview, and see what it means to be a godly father and husband. Leah and I have been reading through “Shepherding a Child’s Heart”, though we both read it before being parents.  We’ve also begun praying in the morning and including Micah in that.  We also want to get some books for Micah to read through in the evening during our reading time before his bedtime.  Anyone with good suggestions, we’re all ears.

Then today I was blog hopping and found this Piper post.  He was asked how he spiritual guides his family.  Here is what he said.

1. We encouraged our children from the very beginning to be alone with the Lord in the morning. That can start as soon as you can prop a child up with a pillow so that he doesn’t topple over and bonk his head. You can set a tape recorder beside him with a song about “Jesus loves me, this I know” or a Bible story.

So a child can have devotions from age 1 on, as strange as that may sound, if you train him to have a little time alone to be with God. He can’t read yet, obviously, and he won’t read yet for another 4 or 5 years. But he can listen and he can enjoy that time. So we did that, and then it turned into Bible stories. Then it turned into giving them their own Bible that they could read, which went on up through teenage devotions.

2. We were at the table together every morning, and I led devotions at breakfast with the children. And if the child is little he just says “Jesus” and that’s all he says. But we used to work our way through the Global Prayer Digest so that there was a missions component. And then we read a short passage of Scripture, and I would pray. It might not take more than 5 minutes, because of the children being little.

3. Then in the evening we had family devotions, which was a little longer. We read a longer portion of Scripture, and all the children–if they were able–would pray, not just me. Noel would pray, I would pray, and each of the children would pray. And as soon as they could talk, we taught them to pray.

4. And then when we put them to bed, we tucked them in, blessed them with

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace,
and joy, and hope, and love, and a good night’s rest,
and someday a godly husband. (Talitha will always laugh when I say this last line.)

And then I sing a song for Talitha. And then I give her a big hug. There is a very definite routine that we walk through. And there is a word component even as you tuck the child in bed at night.

That has been the routine for 31 years, basically, though I don’t want to create the impression that it is flawless or that we didn’t miss mornings or evenings. We did, but this was the goal and the routine. And pretty much we have been able to keep with it.

Hope someone might find this helpful!

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3 comments on “Pastoring a Family

  1. BethsMomToo says:

    What good ideas to introducing God into ta child’s life from the very beginning. Have you read “War of Words”? The author takes a similar point of view. Understanding that God is using you in the life of your family, as well as in the life of others, helps us have God’s point of view.

  2. Dino says:

    I’ve wodered about finding a proper method to raising a child in the Bible that inssures that they don’t find it simply to be routine, but personal. This post seems to give a good answer.

  3. Beth says:

    Yes, it’s interesting how you start examining yourself more and more. We like to read out of a children’s Bible either at breakfast or dinner and sing songs etc.- but the real deal is talking to them about God through the day. How his complaining makes God sad. Also, using biblical terms to encourage godly behavior- I’ve been trying to say “be kind” instead of “being nice” etc. Thanking God for things throughout the day, admiring His creation together. Setting priorities. Nehemiah recently does not like nursery at church- I have to put him in there to teach sunday school, so I explain that I need Nehemiah’s help to serve God. When we do things for others, I explain that loving others pleases God.

    Even in discipline I started thinking- if I were Jesus how would I do this. Being irritated with Nehemiah is sinful and self-centered, not Christ centered- of course- being angry- usually at how how his behavior inconviences me- is also sinful. If we are having a really rough day, at some point we stop and pray together and pray that God would help Nehemiah obey mommy and help mommy obey God. Even in how I spend my time- would Jesus try to get the dishes washed and keep pushing Nehemiah away or would he play with Nehemiah and do the dishes after Nehemiah is in bed?

    I like the quiet time idea- Nehemiah could start doing this since he’s already been trained to sit on a chair or couch and read for 15 min.

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