In raising our 14 kids I can’t say we’ve always been consistent in family devotion times with the kids. It actually got much harder as the kids got older and had so many out of the home commitments. But before we got to that stage, we had fairly consistent family Bible times.
In the next couple of posts I plan to share some of the things we did that proved successful but not overwhelming to accomplish, as well as some of the resources we developed that can be picked up and used without prep time on Dad or Mom’s part. Rick was a dad who had a physically intensive job so he would come home very tired and not at his creative best, so something that did not require a lot of preparation was important for that reason. Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation.
Family Devotions don’t have to be in-depth, or extremely time-consuming. They don’t have to follow a particular formula, and you don’t have to have visuals and activities planned out to accompany your time together in order to “make it work”. What is important, really, is that you try to set aside some time to simply lead your family in listening to God’s word and discussing it together. If you want to do more, great! But, if you cannot- don’t lose heart! Do what you can. Little is MUCH when God is in it!
Here are Easy Ideas and Resources for Family Devotions:
How can you instill the practice of studying God’s Word into your children? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. But, let me share with you what we did with our own children….
From the time our children were babes in the bassinet, we played Bible audios for them at sleep times. It would be a comfort to them and help them to settle down to turn on their Bible CD’s. Pretty early on, Rick recorded audios for them and explained difficult words and meanings to them which was actually teaching them how to meditate on God’s Word. This also served to show the kids that God’s Word was practical and interesting to listen to.
We read Bible stories to our little people and had a Friday night Bible quiz each week asking questions from our reading during the week. We would reward them for answering questions, and it encouraged them to be attentive during reading times- to want to “pay attention on purpose.”
Family devotion time doesn’t need to be complicated. I remember little Matt when he was about 3 or 4; he would get his pillow and stretch out on his back underneath the coffee table every night with his feet up in the air touching the bottom of the tabletop. We never let our kids disrupt family time by running around being loud, but expected them to listen quietly. Matt, listening quietly, would fall asleep every time! Sweet memories. It’s okay. They’ll pick up a whole lot more than you think even if it appears that they aren’t being really attentive.
So, continuing with suggestions for easy Family Bible Times, let me share with you several more ways we spent time together as a family learning about God. (Miss Part 1? Read it here)
Time to get out and work in the yard and garden and just to be in the warm sunshine after the long winter.
I was trying to evaluate what I need to work on outside when I encountered a valuable object lesson. I have a yellow lab named Mosby.
I couldn’t ask for a better dog. He would NEVER hurt one of my many grand kids (unless he whacked them with his giant tail by mistake). He’s a great dog- protects the family, absolutely loves , quiet in temperament, obedient (usually), but there’s just one thing I don’t suppose I’ll ever break him of…..
That’s a question we asked our kids often during their growing up years.
We made it into a little game that the kids begged to play. It was fun.
You are with a friend and he is about to pick the neighbor’s raspberries without permission. He wants you to join him. What should you do?
You hear of an elderly man at church who is recovering from surgery. You wonder if there are things he might need done around his home. What should you do?
Your baby sister grabbed your Bible and tore out several pages while you were out of the room. What should you do?
We would think of situations of temptation that we were pretty sure our kids would have to deal with in whatever stage of life they were experiencing. Then for family time, we asked our kids, “What would you do if…..”.
Character is so lacking in our culture today. Really, it’s more important to train your children in godly character than in any of the academic subjects. It is, in fact, a solid cornerstone for life. God seems to make a way for those who have learned to intentionally strive to build godly disciplines into their lives. Knowledge alone ‘puffeth’ up. (1 Cor. 8:1) Character, unfortunately, doesn’t just happen. It must be taught and cultivated. Children need to learn practical handles to apply it to situations they face day to day.
For years I have been distributing a handout called Identifying and Dealing with Offenses to moms wherever I speak. It is a list I made from observing the negative character traits in my own 14 kid’s lives. As I would see a problem area crop up, I went to the Scripture to see what the Word had to say about it, and then I made up short answer questions for the kids to use to help dig out the treasures of God’s Word concerning each issue.
Through the years, moms asked me to develop a study to make it easier for them to use, hence—Growing in Wisdom.
“ Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Words can be so damaging or so uplifting. Words can tear down or build up. Words can discourage or encourage. We are doing our kids a huge favor if we teach them Biblical guidelines for choosing wise words; AND it will eliminate LOTS of problems in our homes, too.
Scripture has so much to say about our words. One Scripture we used in our home as a good guide for choosing your words was Ephesians 4: 29 ” Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification [according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
In the last 4 posts, I’ve tried to give you some “shoe leather” – real stuff- you can do with your family, not just pie-in-the-sky ideas that sound good but aren’t practical. I’ve been doing this type of thing for MANY years now. I just completed my 37th year homeschooling and graduated my last child. Whew! But, I’m not done yet. Just beginning. I’ve got 16 grandchildren with number 17 on the way in March. And yes, I’m not their parents, but Scripture does hold me responsible to influence my grandchildren in a godly fashion.
I KNOW it’s not easy having a bunch of “littles” in your home to work around and cart with you in car seats when you go places. Believe me, I know all about it! But, listen to me- IT’S WORTH every minute of it.
What do you want to see at the end of your life? I want to see kids and grandkids and even great-grandkids who are thoroughly committed to the Lord, who are living lives pleasing to Him; a big part of that is investing themselves in others. People go to heaven. Things don’t. People can be saved. Things can’t. People can be encouraged and inspired to attempt great things for God and even do things that others may see as little things, but are really BIG things in God’s eyes.
I hope to give a vision through these posts that learning to invest in the lives of others isn’t a complicated, difficult task. Families with little ones can be a part of ministering to others. This post will give you ideas if you are a family with only little people. Next time, I’ll talk about things families with older kids can undertake.
Learning by example is a powerful way to learn. As you take your little ones by the hand and seek to be a blessing to those around you, believe me, those little people are taking it all in. I raised 14 kids. I understand your time is limited. Some things you just have to say “NO” to and wait for a different season of life, but teaching kids to be servant-hearted is something that shouldn’t wait. It’s what you’re supposed to be doing and it’s SO much more important than teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s foundational.
Mark 12:30-31: ” And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
We want to raise our kids to be kids of character. That means more than just mentally knowing what character is. Sure, that’s the first step in training your kids. They can’t take steps to implement it if they’re unaware of it. After they’ve learned that though, it’s important to take action. How do we do it? When do we do it? How do we find needs?
First of all, look around you. Look at your neighbors. Look at your church members. Look at your acquaintances. Those are the people God has put in your sphere of influence. Begin listening to them. It can almost be like a treasure hunt to see who can be attentive/alert and find needs that others have.