The Day I Quit Family Devotions
My wife Jenny and I are not very good at family devotions. For the longest time a “perfect picture” of what family Bible time is supposed to be kept me from attempting it, or worse, attempting it and always failing.
I had this picture in my mind of a family that meets for 30-60 minutes a night. The dad stands proudly before his family and opens the Bible, the children can’t wait in anticipation, and the wife treasures the whole picture counting herself so blessed to have such a “godly” man and family. Ha!
At some point, after many attempts to reach my idolized picture of family Bible time and failing, I decided to give up. Instead of standing and explaining the Word to my kids I was refereeing their behavior. Instead of them sitting on the edge of their seats to listen, they were asking, “Are we done yet?” Instead my wife being proud, she was left consoling a defeated husband.
“I’m just not a good ‘Christian dad’,” I thought.
“My kids just don’t like the Bible.”
“I’m a disappointment to my wife.”
“I guess they can just get it from Sunday school, Christian school, Youth group, or Awana.”
Then God did something amazingly ordinary. He opened my eyes to see that all of the frustration I had in regards to our family devotional time was not due to techniques or skills that I didn’t have, or a curriculum that I had not yet purchased, but the result of a heart that needed to change. The frustration, guilt, shame, and grown-man whining were all indicators that the issue was inside me, not outside. God led me to repent of the idol I had created of a perfect family devotional time. He freed me and my family from a weight of performance that we could never meet. He showed me that it was an unrealistic bar of excellence that kept me from opening the Word with my family and nothing else.
He reminded me of my finished position in Christ. In light of that truth I was freed to experiment without my hope being fixed on the outcome.
I started to simply grab the Bible every time our whole family sat down at the dinner table for a meal together. I started in Genesis 1. I read one chapter a meal. Not every night, but every time we shared a meal.
Not every night is perfect, and we still have to address behavior, but can I tell you something awesome that has happened in the last couple of weeks? First, most of the time I don’t even get the Bible down from the shelf anymore. My son gets it down, unprompted. Second, the last two weeks, when I’ve finished the chapter, my two oldest have been begging me to read more.
We are a weak gang. We are much more skilled at making a mess of things than making things perfect. But God is with us; He has spoken to us, and in His grace he changes us. Don’t let your failure to be what you think a “Christian” parent is supposed to look like keep you from being the primary pastor to your children. Repent of the idol that is either keeping you from spending time in the Word as a family, or is ruining your time in the Word as a family. And believe that God has given you the grace to shepherd your family in the truth. We are only in Genesis 47 now, and there have already been unplanned moments and conversations with my kids I can’t believe I would’ve missed out on if I had decided to give up or farm out the grace of reading the Bible as a family. It’s never too late!
Let’s read the Bible with our families.