I learned this lesson the hard way. If you and I are to lead our families along the path of legacy milestones at Kingsland we might have to adjust our lives. Angela and I have three daughters, Hailey, Madelyn, and Eden. It is our responsibility to love the Lord our God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our strength in front of them each day. It is our responsibility to keep the words of God on our heart. It is our responsibility to impress the words of God on our children. We must talk about the words of God as we sit and home and when we drive places or as we walk somewhere together. It is our privilege to teach them the commands of the Lord when they get up in the morning and when they lie down at night according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9.
Early in my ministry I found myself serving as a student pastor in a local congregation struggling to make a difference for Christ in its community. For a variety of reasons the church began to decline in attendance. Young families left the church in search of dynamic children’s ministries and student ministries to scratch spiritual itches that our church did not succeed in alleviating. I was hurt and frustrated. Looking back I am embarrassed to say that in my soul I believed I could work harder to make the church succeed. For the sake of the call on my life to minister in a local church, I put all other priorities on hold thinking that God wanted me to work harder to make the church a better place.
A couple of years went by. I worked harder and longer, but the church continued its decline. Those two years were both damaging and catalytic all at once. Almost every night I would come home, eat a quick dinner that my wife had prepared, kiss the baby, and head back to church for some sort of meeting. I would come home exhausted. Angela would already have our daughter in bed and we would sit down on the couch to talk. I would spend the next hour before bed, griping about the church I worked so hard to help. This was our family routine for two years.
One night I came home late again after an exhilarating church council meeting discussing weighty issues such as the leaking dishwasher in the church kitchen and the need to pressure wash the molding brick facade. My wife and I began to talk about church once again. This time the conversation went a completely different direction.
As I babbled about my frustrations related to church, I remember hearing these words: “You are losing us.” I began to listen. My wife told me she felt like a single mom. The man she married was now married to the church. My daughter’s father cared more about shepherding other people than teaching her Bible stories at night before she went to bed. Angela in her patience had waited two years hoping I would figure this out on my own. Now, led by the Holy Spirit, she told me the truth about me. She asked for change. I was devastated.
Today I am so glad Angela had the courage to share honestly with me that night. That one conversation jolted me to the core. I reconnected with the truth of Scripture and God’s priorities for my life. This meant life change for me. I sought the Lord and He showed me Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I began to well up with passion for my wife and children. I soon saw discipleship as beginning in my home, not the church. I begged God in prayer for a fresh start. God orchestrated a career move to allow me the balance I needed to be a Christ-follower, a husband, a father, and then a pastor. That’s when I came to Kingsland.
One night soon after we moved my daughter Hailey, four years old at the time, looked up from her plate and asked, “Dad what are you doing home for dinner?” With a tear in my eye I promised her I would be home for dinner most nights from that point forward. Now, dinner, regular faith talks, milestone celebrations, and God moments along the way characterize our family life because of prioritized time and a plan to equip our daughters to become Christ-followers. Out of the overflow of my family comes the heart of my ministry. I authentically expect our church to pursue spiritual formation at home because of the foundation of Scripture and the real experience of my own family.
You may have to adjust your life in order to lead your family spiritually. I know I did and often still do. For more information on leading your children spiritually and how Kingsland will equip you along the way visit us at www.legacymilestones.com. For an ongoing conversation about equipping the next generation growing up under your roof visit www.legacyblog.org.