Releasing the Pressure of Family Devotions

We just finished the third week of a parenting class at our church where each week we are taught by a different couple. We also have the privilege of hearing from a panel of three additional couples to exemplify the variety of parenting styles. It’s beautiful to take what the Bible says about parenting and see it expressed and lived out in different ways, according to each family. The tough thing about calling something “Biblical parenting” is there is a tendency to express it as just one way… and it can lead to legalism and cookie cutter-ness to which I am fundamentally opposed. It’s been refreshing to hear from wise families, speaking through their successes but also where they feel they fell short.

There are about 60 people in the class with us and you can almost hear the collective sighs of relief when each week we have heard couples we all tremendously respect and admire say they did not do family devotions.

Scandalous, I know.

While I realize there are some families that do this and do it well… there are many of us who have carried this yoke around and feel less than adequate when it hasn’t worked for us. So when we hear people who have raised kids who truly love Jesus, love His church and love to serve say they didn’t do it either… a big weight is lifted up.

Our kids are pretty much pastor’s kids so they are at church a lot and they see much of our lives revolve around God, the Bible and His people. Our pastor and his amazing wife spoke to us on Sunday night and said their goal as parents is for their kids “love their Jesus, love their Bible and love the church.” I can come in agreement with that as I look to our four boys who are at church any where from 1 to 4 times a week, and are learning to love, worship and develop community in the same place their mom and dad “work.”

We have decided the Shemah, is going to be about all day every day trying to be an example of loving Jesus, keeping His commands and enjoying life. This includes but is certainly not limited to:

Not making them memorize scriptures but telling them about the words of God that bring life as they apply to situations we are in together.

Asking them for forgiveness when I lose my cool and say something I regret all night long after the fact.

Showing them how much we love church and that we don’t go because we have to.

Lending a hand to our friends when they need it.

Praying with them for their friends when conflict arises at school.

Welcoming and encouraging their questions – no matter how odd, uncomfortable or big they seem to be.

Acknowledging we don’t have all the answers but we serve a God who we can call upon to show us great and unsearchable things we do not know {Jeremiah 33:3}.

Being loving and kind even when it seems difficult.

Showing forgiveness and humility.

I think I am starting to understand that devotions are not and should not be limited to a time slot in the day but a life lived of being wholly devoted to Jesus and His life lived through us.

Thankfully forgiveness is a huge part of the deal.

 

Have you been able to make family devotions work for you? If so, what does it look like? Do you breathe a sigh of relief to know it doesn’t have to look a certain way?

8 thoughts on “Releasing the Pressure of Family Devotions

  1. Jaimie says:

    This is so good. I agree with you that so much pressure has been put on parents to do a certain method because it is more “Godly” – yet how great is it to weave God in and out of every moment of the day, not just restricting it to “family devotion time”? I grew up with family devotion time and h-a-t-e-d it. Every minute. We were forced to sit there, someone always got yelled at, and I don’t even remember those lessons. For us, we have tried to make it more fun, and when we have extra time before school, we’ll pull out a book and read a devotional story. The boys seem to like it, but the minute it becomes rigid and forced, I think the joy will likely be taken out of it.

    • Suzie Lind says:

      Thanks Jaimie. We read Jesus Calling for kids every once in a while and also talk about the lessons they hear at church. I agree that any time something becomes rigid and forced, it takes the joy out of it for everyone!

  2. Jennifer says:

    This reminds me of the passage in Deuteronomy chapter 6. The scriptures command parents to teach their children that God is the one true God and to love God with all your heart,soul,and mind. It goes on in verses 7-8 that it’s done in everyday life, it’s woven into the day. For me it’s a call to be creative and have my eyes and heart open to see the teachable moments throughout the day.

  3. Janna Saavedra says:

    Last year I really stressed memorizing Bible verses for a while. The kids and I both learned a good dozen of them and would practice them a lot. At a certain point it’s like their little heads couldn’t hold any more and that was the end of that. I noticed that I was the only one who quoted the Scriptures. However, there have been many times the kids have heard the Scripture in Children’s Ministry or worked to memorize it years ago and they’ll remember it when they hear it! That brings joy to my heart. We might go back to memorizing Scripture again, but I will do it much prayer and petition before God instead of “We’re a Christian family and gosh darn it that’s what Christian families do!”

  4. Nicolle Tafoya says:

    Thanks for this post Suzie. We are definitely weaving it into our everyday life like it talks about in Deuteronomy but we struggle with feeling like we need to be more intentional and structured. It really struck me when Jammie said she hated every minute of it as a child and that someone always got yelled at. I can see how that happens. As parents we are feeling the pressure to teach this really important thing to our children and then they don’t “seem” like they are listening, then we get frustrated and someone gets yelled at. I don’t want those memories for my children.

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