I Don’t Always Do Devotions with My Boys, and I’m Okay with That

(Gasp! I know! How awful for a Christian mom to feel that way!)
For years, I have felt condemned, inadequate and ashamed that we’ve never really pulled off doing a daily or even weekly family devotion time in this parenting gig of ours. (I still struggle with that even as I write this post.) We’ve had “devotions” here and there, but it’s never been a consistent thing.
After we had children, I started watching how other parents had family devotions with their children. But the harder and harder I tried to emulate what they were doing, the more frustrated I became. It was JUST. NOT. WORKING. for us!
• What is wrong with us?
• Why can’t we do this consistently?
• We have one job, and we are failing!
Do you see how insidious Satan is? He is our accuser! But Jesus is our Advocate before the Father. Our families are not cookie cutter copies of one another. We shouldn’t disciple our children in a cookie cutter fashion either. We should disciple our children the best way that works for us, not what everyone else is doing with their kids. Satan was the one telling me we were failing, not God.
Our firstborns are twins! That was our induction into parenthood (no pun intended). Our third son has special needs. We had three boys within three years. Frantically trying to have consistent family devotions, just added fuel to the fire of already burned-out parents.  Our son with special needs is high maintenance, and caring for him is very time intensive. When he was younger we lived in survival mode for a very long time! Needless to say, we weren’t able to check “have family devotions” off on our “to-do list” very often, if at all.

If I were to be completely transparent, I would tell you that having family devotions was the last thing on my mind as I went through my day. Surviving, keeping my boys alive and getting to bed that night was my goal for quite a while.

Then it dawned on me: Having devotions should NOT be my goal, but being devoted to Christ should!!! My heart and my thoughts are continually about Him. What freedom! Having devotions does not necessarily equate to being devoted! But once you are walking in devotion to Him, having devotions becomes a way of life — a part of who you are — not just a 30-minute time you can check off and feel good about.

Having devotions should NOT be my goal, but being devoted to Christ should! Click To Tweet

We can’t just check it off and put Him away as we put our Bibles back on the shelf! God is more about my heart (my devotion) toward Him than being able to cross off my duty (my devotions) to Him. He longs for relationship and to be part of my life 24/7, not just token moments here and there in something I call “devotions.” He wants all of me!

Deuteronomy 6 says,“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about then when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The commandments are to be on our hearts, and we then impress them upon our children as we go about our day. Our ultimate goal is not doing devotions to secure outward obedience. Our ultimate goal is to create an atmosphere in which God can reach their hearts. It’s not manufactured. It’s simply doing life with our children!

Our ultimate goal as parents is not outward obedience but to create an atmosphere in which God… Click To Tweet

We constantly orient their lives to the Scriptures! When one of the boys was little, he was concerned he couldn’t hear God’s voice. He asked me, “If I could hear Him, what would He say?” Oh, what an open door to be able to speak truth into his little heart. I took that little opening and cracked it wide open. I’ve often heard it said that the best way to get a healthy lawn is not simply to remove the weeds but to ensure your grass is healthy. The healthy grass will take care of a lot of the weeds.

Another time, right around Christmas, we were driving around looking at all the nativity scenes. In the back of the van, I heard one of the boys ask, “Mom, did Jesus poop?” Oh. My. Gosh. It almost felt blasphemous to talk about “poop” and “Jesus” in the same breath. (Still feels a little weird typing it!) But what a moment! I was able to talk about Jesus being fully human and fully God. “Yes, son, Jesus pooped!” His humanity was revealed in such a way that a 6-year-old boy could relate.

I believe we need to be reading and studying Scripture (rightly dividing the Word of truth), how else will we be able to impress the Scriptures upon our children as they live their lives? But we just cannot go through our day and think we’ve done our duty by reading the Psalm or the Proverb of the day. Instead, take one passage, and let His Spirit speak to you. Talk about it with your children, in front of your children, when you are in the carpool lane, when you are at the grocery store, when you are hiking in the mountains, etc. If having a 30-minute devotion is your thing, then do that, but let Him bring life to what you are studying and talking about. Don’t just read for the sake of reading. Don’t get under condemnation if days go by before you are able to get back to it. Start where you left off.

 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).”
I am no longer a slave to my list of what it takes to be a good parent, and I no longer carry around guilt and shame for not being able to have family devotions consistently. Instead, we aim at applying Scripture to what is going on in our lives at any given moment. I look for those “kairos” moments when Heaven intersects earth and opens up the Scriptures in a living way because the boys can learn to apply it and not just memorize it. Memorization is good, but what good is memorizing Scripture if you don’t know how to apply it.
Be encouraged today as you walk in freedom with discipling your children! God will lead you in your parenting every step of the way. Make room for God! Look for those kairos moments! Know that God is gently leading you with your children (Isaiah 40:11).
 

Challenge Questions:

1. Are you DEVOTED or are you simply doing DEVOTIONS? Don’t be afraid to let your kids see you struggle. When they see you struggle with Scripture or a facet of God’s character, they will know how to struggle without completely derailing!
2. Did you know we can actually train our minds to move toward God? If the Bible says to “think on these things,” then it is possible. Maybe this is a little extreme, but I actually set the alarm on my phone to go off every three hours in order for me to stop what I am doing and to intentionally move toward Him in my thoughts. We cannot stop thoughts from coming in, but we can stop them from making a home there.
3. How can you incorporate Scripture and God’s character into your everyday life with your kids? Share in the comments! I bet it will encourage someone else today.

1 Comment

  1. HI JULIE! I loved this and you and I are a lot alike! I never stick to a “schedule” with mine, because I don’t want it to be habit, I want it to be authentic.
    Thanks for linking up at Salt & LIght!!! xoxoxox

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