Several years ago I had a brief conversation with someone who worked with Focus on the Family. They were just getting ready to publish “Bringing Up Boys“. One of the men said this, “It’s not that the men in our church don’t know that they are supposed to be the spiritual leaders in their families, it’s that they don’t really know what that means nor how to do it.” I was a young father at the time. I knew exactly what he was saying.
Being the spiritual leader in your family is this: (1) set the example spiritually, (2) feed the family spiritually, (3) protect the family spiritually and (4) be with the family spiritually – stay connected.
My last post explored setting the example. Today I want to explore “feed the family spiritually.”
I am convinced that God works through His word (Psalm 19:7-11). I’ve often asked this question to the older generation:
“What is one piece of advice that you would give young people today?”
Their answer is almost always the same:
“Get into the Bible.”
Yet when life gets busy it seems like Bible reading is the first thing to go. And we starve ourselves spiritually. Spiritually starved people are incredibly carnal. The fruit of the flesh is more evident than the fruit of the Spirit. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been there. Reading the Bible is one way to make sure that you are fed spiritually. Let me give some practical suggestions:
Have a family devotional plan.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It’s not just a cute saying for a productivity poster. It’s true. Sometimes Bible reading does just happen. But that’s the exception. You can’t lead your family spiritually by relying on the exception to occur. I’d like to recommend a resource for your intentional family Bible reading plan – OnTrack Devotions. In fact, you can connect with this resource for free through Lakewood Park. Follow this link to find out more information.
The idea is simple. Everyone on the same customizable Bible reading plan. Grandparents, parents, kids, church members, friends, etc. You get a PDF sent to you every month. If you’d like to know more about how to use this resource, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
But here’s a crucial step – have everyone in the family submit a SMART goal for their Bible reading plan. This is an example of a well written goal. “Get up at 6:15, go to the dining room table, read the Bible using my OnTrack Devotional plan.” It’s very specific and measurable.
Share meaningful verses and passages.
Most Bible apps (I use YouVersion but there are many more) have the capacity to share verses with others through social media or text messaging. When you read something that strikes you in an interesting way, share that verse with your wife and kids with a brief explanation of why it struck you the way it did. You can share it via their social media page or by simply texting it to them. For younger kids, share your thoughts about what you read while you are tucking them into bed. It’s not so much that they understand what you read it is more that they see that the Bible is making an impact on your life.
When correcting your kids – use the Bible as the authority.
My kids tease me – “here comes a sermon.” But I don’t mind that. I like the fact that they know that I teach them using the Bible. Now I don’t lecture them for 30 minutes using three points and a poem but I do take them to the Bible for the rationale for correcting their behavior. Saying an unkind word to their sibling isn’t just “not nice.” It goes directly against Ephesians 4:29. So I have them read Ephesians 4:29 for themselves and compare their behavior with the verse.
Ask your kids about what they are reading.
Your kids will have questions about the Bible and you don’t need to be a theology professor to answer them. Sometimes their questions are just about definitions of words that they don’t understand. Yes, sometimes their questions are tougher than that and you’ll need some help answering those questions. Text your pastor or use some free resources online. One of my favorites for deeper study is biblehub.com.
Asking them about what they are reading is also a good accountability tool. I know a respected business man who is a voracious reader. He loves reading. He also loves to ask what other people are reading. One, it gives him ideas for new books but two, it puts a bit of pressure on people to be growers through reading. One of the questions that I ask people who are looking to serve in the church is this: what are you reading in the Bible right now? Do the same thing with your family.
Starting in June of 2011, LifeWay Research surveyed over 4,000 people and 1,000 pastors concerning spiritual growth. The research indicated this: Bible engagement (reading) is a key attribute in the lives of those who are progressing in spiritual maturity. Isn’t that what we are looking for in our lives and the lives of our family members? Spiritual maturity. My challenge is this – be the spiritual leader in your family by getting in the Word yourself (setting the example) and getting your families member in the Word with you.