November 21, 2011

How My Wife Helped Me Man-up & Lead Family Devo’s

by Clint Archer

I’m a slacker. That is the only explanation. All my single years I pined and prayed for the dream life checklist–kinda Thomas Kinkade meets Cheaper By The Dozen.

  • 1 x beautiful wife, preferably a California-girl. This prayer was shallow, immature, and embarrassingly Beach Boys, I know. But God said yes anyway. So check.
  •  1 x huddle of doting children. Check, check, and 7 weeks ago, check again. (All 3 got their mom’s looks too. Another boon from God).
  •  1 x Wheaton Labrador named Spurgeon, so that even the worst day would come with at least one obliviously happy grin. Check.

 

And in the IMAX theater of my mind’s eye, family devotion scenes involved my little flock nestled at my feet as I expounded God’s word, Bible on lap, like a daddy bird dropping juicy spiritual truths into the cheeping mouths of eager little minds.

Yeah, we’re not there yet.

But we are edging closer than we were before because… my wife had a plan.

As it turns out, bedtime in the Archer home was proving to be less like a Kinkade painting, and more like those Channel 7 news clips of Hurricane Katrina.

Devo’s were getting drowned in a swirling flood of diaper-change > bath > PJs > spaghetti-dinner > bath-again > clean PJs > bedtime-milk > spill > more clean PJs > drive-by prayers with summarized Samson stories as daddy rushes out to teach a “real Bible study” to his “other flock.”

Why? Because I’m a slacker. My spineless lack of discipline was the only problem. Not the spilled milk or spaghetti (though, we did learn that bath time before dinner was a rookie error).

Then one day God said “Enough.” No visions or dreams or angels…well, kinda: my wife was the perfect, gracious, help-meet suitable who assisted me in re-calibrating my priorities.

 

She did it without nagging like a dripping tap, which is known in Vietnam and Proverbs as a torture technique.

She didn’t hint, like we’re playing some sort of subtle marriage sign-language game I’m supposed to decipher.

She did it without making me feel like I was slacker, though I was being one.

She didn’t talk to me about it in the midst of one of the busy moments of life.

She made a date, some condensed milk coffee, and asked if I would be ok with her telling the kids each night that after dinner and bath, and before bedtime, part of the new routine would include family worship?

The Holy Spirit did the rest.
Next week, I’ll share what we now do and which material we use for family devotions each night—I want to get one week consistent before I do! I’m still figuring this out.

But for now…

If you are a dad:

This is your job. It’s the man’s prerogative and privilege to lead his family in their spiritual growth. God uses your help-meet wife as a back-up plan for when you are consistently dropping the ball in being the leader you need to be. If your wife has been hinting, asking, even nagging. Don’t resent her for it. If you would just man-up your wife won’t need to lead you. Just take it as a reminder from God, and get on it.

If you are a mom:

 I know you want your husband to lead in this. Perhaps you’ve been praying, perhaps you’ve been leaving cryptic clues embedded in your late-night chats. Maybe you have resigned yourself to do it instead of him. All these things make the man feel like a loser (he may well be one, but feeling like one doesn’t encourage change. I know it’s weird. Make him feel like a man, and he is more likely to want to act like one. If he thinks you consider him spineless, he may well give up trying. He doesn’t want an uphill battle. He wants to make you proud of him. So make that easy.

But it can be helpful for you to help him initiate family devotions, but suggesting how to work it into the routine. Kids thrive on routine, like little Pavlovian pets. But so do grown-ups. If your husband is a believer, and you guard the routine, the rest might just fall into place without any water-torture techniques or psychological warfare.

If you are a kid:

Share this link on Facebook. Your parents probably monitor your account while you’re sleeping, so they’ll get it then.

 

Moms, Dads, leave a comment of how you go the routine to work. Next week we’ll hit technique.

 

Clint Archer

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Clint is the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church. He and his expanding troop of Archers live near Durban, South Africa (and pity anyone who doesn't). When he is off duty from CGate, his alter ego blogs at Café Seminoid, clintarcher.com
  • Matt Millett

    Amen! Family Devos is a jewel many Christian families have not treasured. I’m excited to read your routine next week. Jerry Marcelleno and Donald Whitney both have booklets on family worship that have been helpful for me.

    • Thanks Matt, Whitney is a devo guru. See you next week at the C-Gate.

  • hahaha. this is hilarious. I will be posting this on facebook- for all those “parentals”.

  • Melissa Pidal

    we do it as soon as our family meal of the day is finished. for us it’s lunch. and while we’re still at the table, gus leads us in our devotions. we’ve been doing it for months and it’s worked out so well!!

    • Melissa, when you factor in the enviable siesta habit of Spain, technically you still do them before bedtime, right? Thanks for your comment.

  • Charlie Frederico

    Thank you for this post. It is surprising how many families, especially pastor’s families, do not lead their families in worship. We have found it helpful to have family worship about 2-3 times a week, usually after dinner. We sometimes do it in the afternoon depending upon whether or not there is something coming up later in the evening. Starting around 6 or 7 years old, we also have our children read Scripture for an hour as part of their morning routine as well. That has done more than we imagined to teach them the Scripture. We start them in Proverbs. From there, as they get older and have covered Proverbs sufficiently, we have them read through the Penteteuch. After that, they get into the New Testament, usually the gospels. Our family worship currently consists of working through Deuteronomy. From there, I plan to head into the NT, probably the gospel of Matthew. All of this leads to wonderful discussions throughout the day. It is an important part of stewarship to lead the family toward God. Thank you again for bringing this subject up.

    • That’s helpful Charlie. Thanks for sharing.

  • Creighton Ring

    Thanks Clint! Your transparency and descriptions hit home. Perhaps Proverbs 32 might have included: “She encourages her husband without making him feel like a spineless idiot, even though he knows it as he sits in the city gate instead of leading family devotions.”

    • Totally. “Some ancient manuscripts have this addition…” I bet the ladies would like that too.

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  • Hey Clint, thanks for the exhortation to dads to be dads. However, one question has always weighed heavily on my mind when it comes to this subject of “family worship”: where does Scripture say “Ye shall have family worship time led by the father each day”? In other words, is this the only method we can come up with? In order for dads to be dads God’s way, are we saying he’s a failure if he does not do some kind of daily “family worship” time?

    • Charlie Frederico

      If you don’t mind, Karl, I would like to give you my thinking on this question. The NT was not written in such a way to give those kinds of instructions, although it clearly does in a number of issues. If it did, we wouldn’t have to use wisdom from the OT and other principles in the NT. The overall pattern and command for God’s people is that fathers (and mothers) instruct their children. But fathers have a particular responsibility from God in the matter (Gen.18:19; Ex.12:23-27;Dt. 6:5f; Ps. 78:4-8 [esp.v.5]; Proverbs 1:8; 4:1; 6:20; 7:1 etc…). This pattern is set in the OT and is the expectation for the church as well. It is summed up in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21. So, in a very real sense, fathers are dropping the ball if they are not teaching, regularly, their children in the Scriptures. So, that is how I think it works out.

      • Karl Heitman

        Hey Charlie, thanks for your input and the Scripture references. When you look at those passages in their immediate context, one is still hard pressed to label a man a dead-beat dad if he doesn’t snuggle up at night and have some kind of “family worship” time. Those who know me well know that I view the father as having the ultimate responsibility of shepherding the home, but that does not lead to one saying ‘thus says the LORD” when it comes to saying we must do it the way you do it or some other guys does it. Dads need to teach their children. Whether that means having “family worship” before bedtime every night, dad taking time to disciple young Johnny in the everyday challenges of life, or dad…. My point is that the Bible commands parents train their kids: period. It does not command us to have father-led family devos 3,4,5,6,7, nights per week. I’m not the one who likes to pull the “Christian freedom” card, but this, seems like this subject belongs in that category. Dads, lead your family, but there is some freedom in how you do it…. Furthermore, if one thinks he’s a good model for his son just because he checks off the “family worship” block falls short of teaching his son how to be a godly young man and a future husband & father.

        I think this is what you’re saying too?

        • Charlie Frederico

          Parents are responsible for the children’s instruction in the Word of God. If we strictly look at the methodology in these verses, this is what we find:

          -Genesis 18:19-> Abraham was chosen “that he should command” his children and household. The express method is not clearly defined, but is alluded to in the word “command.” The result of that commanding is righteousness in the household. That is, he was to expressly command (which assumes verbal instruction in some form) his children so that they would learn righteousness , i.e. keep the way of the Lord.

          -Exodus 12:23-27 -> the Passover was to be a ritual that a man and his family celebrate annually. Witnessing that event, a child might ask questions. God instructs Moses how to instruct the fathers in the congregation how to respond. This is at some point after the ritual. The methodology here is not expressly mentioned, but is stimulated by the observation of worship during Passover. Worship attendance is a recurring method in the OT that appears to have carried into the NT.

          -Dt.6:4-7 -> Here, a clear methodology is given. That methodology is manifold. Verse 7 says to “teach” (actually it is to “repeat over and over”) and the context of that repetition of the commands of God is given as topic of discussion when you sit, walk, lie down or rise up. That pretty much covers every moment of the day. The method here is verbally repeating the information heard from Moses. But, the point is to do it all the time.

          -Ps. 78:4-8 -> The methodology here is not given either. However, the instructions are the same. Cause your children to “know” the Law of Israel. The only clear way of depositing the Law in the children is by verbal teaching accompanied by expectation to obedience (“keep his commandments”-v.7b).

          Proverbs -> These also seem to indicate the need to teach by way of verbal communication. The methodology is defined by the idea of teaching. But, the point is that the father is successful in teaching the children. This reality is overwhelming in Proverbs.

          So, as I look at this, this is what I see. The responsibility of the instruction falls upon fathers. Mothers also have the task for teaching, but fathers have a particular role in even that. I even believe this is the pattern in the garden when Adam was entrusted with the command of God to eat whatever is wanted, but do not eat from the tree of the knoweldge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17; cf. 1 Timothy 2:13). The question then would be, “Since the Bible does give the command to repeat, instruct, command, teach, by way of verbal communication in an ongoing, repetitious manner as a result of worship observation, as well as other avenues, how can we accomplish this?” You can say, “We do it as we can.” But that is not deliberate enough. This is a command of God. Or, one can say, “We prefer lifestyle discipleship.” But that is spotty at best and oftentimes is an excuse for lack of actually instructing the family. Thus, I think it is wise, in order to accomplish the above, which is summarized in Ephesians 6:4 and somewhat repeated in Colossians 3:21 is to have a specific time when, as a family, they read the Word of God and the husband/father explain the text. This will require of him preparation. But that is, I believe, part of what God is after in the process.

          The above verses are samplings. But, this expectation has never been revoked, and is the stuff of managing a home well (1 Timothy 3:4-5).
          Finally, since this is a serious problem in most churches, I would jump at the opportunity to see how other men fulfill this responsibility in their homes and begin to imitate that until you get your own patterns and ways of doing it. But the point is, start instructing your family!

          • Charlie, thanks for picking up the thread while I was on vacation. Your insights are very helpful.

    • I concede that there is no “Thou shalt devo daily with thine offspring.” However, I have never met a man who does family devotions regularly, who found it to have anything other than a helpful spiritual impact on his wife, kids, and even self. I would lean on Deut 6 for the general responsibility. There are many actions that are part of the as spiritual walk that are not commanded in Sripture, but can be taken as wisdom that is helpful. If a guy never leads his family spiritually at all…that’s a different story– he is clearly violating Deut 6. But if you have a better practice than devotions, please share, I need all the help I can get.

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  • Paul Stewart

    Thanks Clint. I have a 22 month and 7 month old, so it is good to start developing good habits before my kids know that I am a slacker.

    I was drinking coffee this morning over The Cripplegate when I read, “some condensed milk coffee” and I thought, that sounds good and we just opened up a can of that for the cat. To my disappointment I learned that evaporated milk and sweet condensed milk are not the same.

    • Rookie mistake. I have tried both, but the Evap stuff only once. Never again.

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  • Fred Butler

    Does Jesus come in and sit with you when you do them like in that picture?
    What do you serve for refreshments?

    • Kelly Webster

      Hey, at least he sort of looks Jewish in the picture.

    • Funny.

  • May we all follow this great encouragement. A good place to start would be this Thanksgiving Day. I also just read this pastor’s good advice:
    http://www.danieldarling.com/2011/11/dads-should-lead-on-thanksgiving/

    • Thanks Michael, I’ll check it out.

  • Jeff

    I was running into a couple of the same obstacles: a busy, busy life where it seemed like there was no time to fit in family devotions… and being a slacker. We’ve started doing them right after supper when everyone is still gathered together. So far so good, though I think this is the first week we’ve consistently done them every night.

    • I feel you brother. And probably a couple of nights a week will still count as a win. I just wanted devos not to be an exception, but the norm.

  • feeling helpful

    typo : You’re parents –> Your parents.

    (feel free to delete this when you’re done)

    • Thanks. I still make those after teaching high school English grammar!

  • Thanks, Clint! Missing your sermons at SCV Bible studies. Alex Prokopenko, Samara, Russia

  • Stotakoya y Priviet!

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