I love working with kids and families of all the things I could have spent my life doing this is truly an honor. But even greater than this has been the wonderful privilege of being Julie’s husband, Yancy & Whitney’s Dad, and Sparrow Rocket’s “G”! Being an Orange thinker you’ve heard me say this before, “What you teach and train your children about God matters to Him!” It’s my responsibility, priority and privilege as a parent to do this. But it’s also my responsibility, priority and privilege to teach them about marriage and family by setting an example and modeling God’s Word. You’ve also heard me say this before in conferences, articles, books and blogs, “What happens at home is more important than what happens at church.” God’s original plan for world evangelism and the mission of the family is laid out in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your heart. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. How do we do this? In my book CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS I give you twelve things you can do as a parent to connect your kids to God. Here’s just a few to get you started.
- Family ministry starts at home. Decide you and the inhabitants of your household will serve the Lord. You have heard this verse a thousand times Josh. 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” What does this mean? It’s simple; make Jesus an everyday part of your lives. Live out what you are asking the families at your church to do at their house. We never did devotions as a family instead Julie and I still to this day take advantage of every opportunity to apply God’s Word to the thinking of every member of our family (including each other) not to allow a stronghold to be formed. A stronghold? Yes, I define a stronghold as wrong thinking that does not line up with the truth of God’s Word. As parent be careful what and who you allow in your home. It’s easier to start strict when kids are young and relax as they get older and allow them to make good choices based on the Bible. The bottom line is be an example!
- Love your spouse the way you want your children’s spouse to love them. I don’t know why we think we can have a strong family and not have a strong marriage. Great marriages are a work in progress and happen when you make it a priority. You’ve heard me say if you aim at nothing you hit it every time. You need a plan to make your marriage strong. What ever you did to win your spouse’s affection is the same actions you need to choose to keep their affection. Spend as much time together as you can. Also spend quality time have a plan for your time together. Communicate well. Learn to be a listener. Be intentional hen it comes to dates, trips and make special times together to be a regular part of your life. Set a night to be date night and make it a priority. Just like we want our children to see we love the Lord first and foremost let your spouse see firsthand that other than Jesus there is no other person on this earth we love other than them including our kids.
- Spend lots of time with your kids. My kids are my third priority so when it comes to controlling my schedule and not letting it control me I have to make making time for my kids a lifestyle choice. Julie and I chose from the beginning of us becoming parents that it was both of our desires to be a close family. Even though our kids are grown this is still a priority. Because of the time we invested when our children where young they make time for us now that they are grown. Our children know they are always invited to go on family vacations. Sunday lunch is a special family time for us. Long before my girls ever went on a date they had dates with Dad. I’ve tried to make the time I have with my kids all about them not just including them in things I want to do. I’ve tried to not miss anything that was important to them. If I worked hard to plan the times at church I have with the kids of my church why don’t I look for ways to make off days and evening special for the kids ho live t my house.
- Seek to understand how God has made each member of your family differently and allow them to be different. My wife and I are very different and I believe different is a good thing. I’m a spender and Julie is a saver. I am overly generous she can be a little tight. We need each other. Our kids are a different mix of both of us. Even though our girls had the same parents ate the same food and lived in the same house they are as different as night and day. I realized when I first started working in the local church. God makes us all different as part of His plan. We are the body of Christ and just like every part of His body has a different purpose and function so does the members of our family. Different personalities calls for differences in how we parent, how we discipline and how we communicate our love as well as how we communicate information. Celebrate how differences, strength and gifts of each family member and dare to speak in their language in a way they can receive and understand you. Dare to be an encourager. To encourage mean to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope, to spur on; to give help to. Be a helper, an encourage and a cheerleader for every member of your family especially your mate.
- Be open and honest at all times and admit your mistakes and demonstrate repentance. Why do we try to hide our mistakes from the people who see them the most? My Mom taught me early in life, “Things are not as bad as I think they are. She also told me I’m not as wonderful as I think I am either, it’s always somewhere in between. Our families know firsthand our struggles and inconsistencies but what makes the difference is when we don’t try to hide them or pretend they are not there but we admit them and let they see we are doing something about it. Your family needs to learn from your example Godly repentance. You see there’s a big difference in “I’m sorry and true repentance.” Repentance calls for different behavior. When your family sees you modeling repentance it’s easier for them to apply this in their own lives.
Establishing a family ministry starts with our family. Others will follow your example! It’s never too late to make right choices, I am so thankful we serve a God who is the God of a second chance for me and my family and the families I get to minister to at church.