The following two-part article was contributed by Brad Shedd, Associate Pastor of Household Worship at Harvest Assembly in Chesapeake, Virginia and originally appeared at www.harvestva.org/hws.
Introduction from part one of this article: “Would you like your household to be functional and supportive? Would you like your children to ‘turn out’?” With very few exceptions, parents respond with a hearty “Yes!” to those questions. And yet, so few parents have even the slightest clue of “how to get there.”
Even more, as Christians, our goal is not just that our children would “turn out,” but that they would become mighty men and women of God, turning their world upside down for Him. Yet with such a lofty ideal, most Christian parents have no idea what they can do to see this goal become a living reality.
The good news is this—there’s hope, and there’s help! There are simple, repeatable things you can do each day that, partnered with God’s active intervention, will eternally transform your household. What’s more—these principles apply no matter what your household looks like—children, no children, single parenting, multiple generations, extended family, etc. Throughout God’s Word, He promised to impact our entire oikos—our household (see Acts 16:31). With that in mind, take a look at these remaining two simple practices:
3) Household Blessing
A third core practice also naturally flows from the first two—the parents simply pray specific blessings over each child. The Bible is filled with fathers giving “the blessing” over their children—it was sought after and longed for (see Genesis 27, 48-49 for starters). God has designed the parents to be the ones to represent Him in speaking His words of blessing over their sons and daughters.
This can be done at any time throughout the day, but two of the most natural times are: 1) as Dad or Mom prays during Household Worship, and 2) as the children are being put to bed.
Once again, this does not have to be elaborate, complicated, or overly drawn out, but I have yet to have any of my children refuse a blessing from their father! There are two primary elements in a blessing:
- Blessing a person’s identity (affirming exactly who that person is in God’s eyes
- Blessing a person’s destiny (affirming the special plan and purpose that God has for this person)
One of the best ways to bless both of these elements is to speak the meaning of each child’s name over them—inherent in their name is a unique identity and the promise of what they are going to become!
If I were to pray over my oldest daughter, I might say something like this, “Olivia, you are such a special person in God’s eyes! Your name means ‘Peace,’ and you already bring such peace to all those who interact with you! Moreover, may God lead you to be a woman of peace all your life—may you become a beautiful woman of God, representing the peace of Christ in your future family and in all who will cross your path.” I regularly do the same for each one—Sophia means “Wisdom,” Stephen means “Crown,” Ava means “Filled with Praise,” Susanna means “Graceful Lily,” and Laura means “Crowned with Honor.” Take a moment to find out what each of your children’s names mean (as well as your spouse and anyone else that is part of your household) . . . you will be blessed, and they will be even more blessed!
4) Daddy Time/Mommy Time
The last practice is probably one of the most important—intentionally spending one-on-one time with each child at least once a week. According to a recent study, the average number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is . . . three and a half minutes! This is obviously not God’s plan, and yet our modern society with all of its distractions has conspired to remove the most basic interactions we can have with our children.
Proverbs 23:26 echoes throughout time, “My son, give me your heart” (see also Proverbs 1-4, especially the opening words of each chapter). Probably the most important key to affirming, life-changing parenting is to nurture a growing heart relationship with each child.
In Keeping Our Children’s Hearts, Steven and Teri Maxwell make these comments,
“We want to have our children’s hearts because we desire to direct those hearts to Jesus Christ. When we have a child’s heart, we have the ability to influence that heart. . . . . If we don’t have the heart, the child will likely be lured and pulled to the attractions of the world. . . . Parenting by authority becomes more difficult and tentative as children grow older. However, if we have their hearts, we find that we are able to influence our children on the basis of our relationship.” (emphasis mine)
When you “have your child’s heart,” then you can faithfully navigate each stage of a child’s development . . . and nothing in God’s Word says that your child must rebel or become distant from you! When you “have your child’s heart,” you can even make mistakes . . . but the relationship will be strengthened as you humbly ask your child to forgive you.
How can you “have your child’s heart?” Well, first you must understand that this is the natural bent of your child from the very beginning—this is how God designed it! The issue is keeping your child’s heart. And how is that done? Through the ongoing, intentional nurturing of your relationship with your child.
In our home, this takes the form of “Daddy Walks” and “Mommy Talks.” One of my treasured times of the week is late Sunday afternoons, when I take a walk with each child around our neighborhood, often stopping to talk in the gazebo in the park. I usually ask the simple question, “How’s your heart?” or “Was there anything that you wanted to talk about?” Sometimes I have something specific to share, but many times we just start by being together . . . and it naturally goes from there! My wife schedules her “Mommy Talks” throughout the week, but each time she begins the same way—simply by being together.
Find the routine that works for you . . . and fight for it! Refuse to let the busyness of our world rob you of one of the most valuable opportunities you have—to be in a heart-to-heart relationship with your children! And, by the way, don’t stop your Daddy/Mommy times when your children reach puberty—in fact, your greatest Daddy/Mommy times are about to begin! Moreover, it goes without saying that Husbands and Wives need this kind of quality time together with each other as well!
Four simple, easily repeatable practices, but with eternal, life-changing results . . . The choice is yours . . . will you begin to prioritize the household God has given you? God is waiting to partner with you, and today is the best day to start!