Four Ways to Serve the Lord as a Family
Joshua 24:15 "...But as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."
That verse is probably familiar to most anyone who has been in church. It's a good reminder that there are times we must draw a line in the sand as Christians and lead our families to the Lord despite whatever may be going on around us.
We can think of countless ways the biblical model of the family is being assaulted in todays society. There is much to consider as we try to navigate and lead our children through these turbulent times. Sexual immmorality is not only accepted but embraced pridefully. The media and entertainment industry have a clearly focused agenda on liberal indoctrination. Our current Federal government is bound and determined to see societal change on every level - from women's restrooms to sex changes for children. We often discuss these social issues as if the church is in retreat and we are having to play defense against an overpowering enemy. One thing we should get right - the Church of the Lord is never in retreat against the enemy.
I think it's time that we stop talking like we are on defense and instead talk as if we are on offense. Because we are.
There is no power on this earth that is able to overtake the power of the Lord. The circumstanced of this world may be overwhelming to us, but they are not overwhelming to God. So, it is in these times that we should rely on the strength that He provides and recommit ourselves to serving Him. How do we do that as a family?
1. Commit to worshipping as a family.
This may sound pretty simple, and it is. However, this is necessary for the kind of service the Lord desires from us. Especially in the post-COVID age, there will need to be an army that is raised up and sent out to serve.
We often say things like, "We don't come to church. We are the church." That statement is true, in part. For a long time in America we were too focused on simply drawing a crowd. We equating filling seats in an auditorium with making disciples. We know there is much more to discipleship than that, but it is not less than that. The command in Hebrews 10:25 is still relevant to us today - "Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together."
If you want to be a rebel in this day and age - take your family to church. This is beneficial to your family because your children can see you worshipping the Lord. They will grow to emulate that later in life. In fact, they may even grow to emulate that sooner than you think. Just this past Sunday, our seven year old went to the altar to pray and was joined by his friend in prayer. Bringing your family to worship is also beneficial to the movement of the church.
If the goal of the church is to raise up an army of disciples to be sent out for the glory of God, we have to ask the question - where are they sent out from?
The gathering of the church is the launching point of the Great Commission. It always has been and always will be until Jesus comes. Every Sunday, we gather to go. We are sent out from the worship gathering of the church to be on mission for the glory of God.
2. Find ways for your children to serve
Let's be honest. In middle class America today, everything revolves around the wants and needs of our children. Most people are busily chauffeuring their children from one extra-curricular activity to another. They have most any gadget available to them that they want. Children have not been sheltered from the rising tide of consumerism in our society.
Even when people are looking for a new church much of the conversation shifts to what is available for the children. I think people mean well. They want what is best for their child. Many people want to be able to offer to children what they were not able to receive themselves.
But what is truly best for our children?
Jesus came to serve, not to be served. We should lead our children to do the same. We may think that we are providing them something valuable by giving them what they want, but at some point we have to ask the question - what is this doing to their souls?
Now, if the goal is to raise our children to be decent American citizens who go out to get a good job with a 401k and have a house with a picket fence one day, then by all means we should probably keep doing what we are doing. But if we want to raise dedicated followers of Christ, we need to teach our kids how to serve.
They need to know that the world doesn't revolve around them. Unfortunately, this mentality was highly prevalent when I was teaching school. There are parents who believe it is their job to negotiate grades for their children. We are doing nothing to help our child if we create the easy way out that avoids hard work.
Children should grow in self-sufficiency, and they should grow in their service towards others. Both of those ideas go hand in hand. They can't help others if they are not willing to help themselves. Give them chores. Give them a job. Tell them they need to volunteer for something at church. Make them cut the grass. Make them cut the neighbors grass. Teach them this is how the world works. Be sure to teach them 1 Corinthians 10:31 - "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." They will thank you years down the road.
3. Pay attention to the needs of others
Some may think this should go without saying, but in a society that is obsessed with self this requires a total shift in mindset.
In order for us to help meet the needs of other people we need to know what their needs are. We may think we know what is best for them, but until we get to know people and their circumstances it is difficult to pave a path forward in helping them.
One example has become clear to me in recent months in our community. We typically think of helping the poor in terms of feeding them, but there has been a huge increase in local resources of food in our community. Schools have received extra funding, many churches offer food pantries multiple times a week, and the government distributes food through non-profits on a regular basis in our community. Just the other day they were giving out pallets of food. The truth is we have an abundance of food right now.
Our community does have a major problem with drugs, however. We have seen many needs being met through our Celebrate Recovery program recently. We are praying many more needs will be met in the future.
We all have to need to become more "others focused" in our desire to serve other people as a family.
4. Check your family calendar
Every family is organized differently. Some have a calendar on the fridge. Others have a calendar on their phone. I love hearing about families that have a shared Google calendar that updates on everyone's device. I think that's pretty awesome. Some don't have a calendar at all, and they are flying by the seat of their pants from one ball practice to the next.
However we are organized, we need to take an inventory of our time. This is a crucial step to finding ways to serve other people. We need to ask the hard questions of ourselves - how much of my time is focused on "my four and no more?" How much of our time is focused on the needs of other people?
Unfortunately, in this day and age people even neglect the needs of their aging parents or grandparents. As Christians, we have an obligation to do better. Imagine how better off things would be if we took seriously the calling to truly care for the needs of others in our family and beyond.
It starts with us. There is no government program that will fix the family. There are generational cycles that need to be addressed. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that should be met. The family that is sold out for the glory of God is the institution that is rightly placed to address those needs. But it starts with us and what we decide to do today.
Jonathan Edwards said, "Every family should be as it were a small church, consecrated to Christ." How many things would look differently today if we took that to hear in our service to the Lord and to our fellow man?