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One thing that has become increasingly important to me over the years is carved out family time. Not just because it’s important to have fun together while they are young, but also because it is critical to build relationships because we are influencing their eternity. Family time is literally the core of discipleship.
We used to be a family who was happiest going busily from activity to activity, but we got burnt out. We began to crave the relationships with friends over quality time with those in our family, and that wasn’t okay. So we pulled back from our busy life, reassessed and literally began to retrain our hearts and focus first on God, second on family — just like He ordained. We started enjoying simple things, together.
Since that time, we have become a different family. In the beginning it felt a little like work; we weren’t used to staying home and playing with each other. We had to learn. Now, however, we look forward to family time and activities that have become special to us. Our favorite times when we have a tea party, or play games (have you played Qwirkle yet? Awesome fun!), or eat pancakes and play the thankful game while we eat, or snuggle under the covers to watch a favorite classic (Annie Get Your Gun and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are huge favorites around here on a Saturday night!).
When we do these things routinely, we are consistently doing what the early Church did. They sat around the table, gave thanks to God, and spent time building relationships. They had all things in common. This is how we disciple our children. We hold hands, we take time to listen, we see their hearts and share with them ours. We spend time, our most precious resource, with them. And now we are seeing the fruit of that.
My teenager and I have had some of our best chats sitting on the hallway floor, him chatting while I’m sorting out seasonal clothes. My daughter will sit down Indian style and just start pouring out her thoughts while I’m cooking or nursing the baby. My heart gets so full when I see our younger sons run up and jump on Daddy and start talking to him while they horse around. It is during these seemingly mundane times that we end up hearing their deepest thoughts, and they share them because they have learned to trust us and because we have worked hard to show them that we can.
We are called, as parents, to the glorious responsibility of discipling our children. We are entrusted and charged with that task by God Himself and we do it with heavenly authority. However, here on earth, we also need to earn the right to speak into our children’s lives by teaching them that we are trustworthy and by living a life they can look at. We must first sit at the feet of the King, let others with more wisdom teach us and correct us, and live in a way that allows our children to see that we will hold their hands and hearts. As we spend family time together, they will see that and it will open the door to precious moments of discipleship that impact their eternity.