Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring -- The Season Of Spiritual Renewal For Our Family

Photo: Jason Paluck
Spring is a universal symbol of renewal. It's the season of physical rebirth and surrounds us with new life.  It is also a common time when Christians take a step back, consider the state of their spiritual lives, and experience spiritual restoration.  We have begun the habit of carefully examining our entire family's spiritual health during this season.

Every spring we reflect on the past year, including spiritual growth and challenges.  We also look forward to the coming year, consider our spiritual needs, and plan a strategy to achieve new goals.  Spring is a beautiful time to inventory my family's spiritual development.  We try to gain a godly perspective by looking at the big picture and then compare it with where we are on our spiritual journey as a family.  This practice of annual analysis helps me focus on what is important and be intentional in the spiritual leadership of our family.

Here are some of the categories I evaluate and specific questions I ask each spring:

Each Child As An Individual
What growth has occurred for each of my children this past year?  Am I actively preparing them to be servants of our Lord?  What positive character traits do I see in my children?  How can I use these strengths as building blocks for their faith and further character development?  What are their character weaknesses?  What potential stumbling blocks lie ahead for them?  How can I prepare them for those challenges?

Photo:  Code Poet
Family practices
What new strategies for family worship and spiritual instruction have we tried?  What worked well?  What didn't work well?  Is there another way to try to achieve the same goal?  Was there a strategy that was working for us but was abandoned along the way?  Do we need to implement it again?  Am I providing my children with a solid foundation of Biblical understanding?

Do we participate in regular family worship of God in our home?  Are we praying together?  Are we going through the motions--treating family worship as something on our "to do" list--and missing the heart of worship?

Relationship with God
Is each family member growing in their relationship with God?  Are we neglecting praise?  Are we communicating with God through prayer?  Are we listening for his Spirit to speak to us?  Am I nurturing our children's heart connections with God?  Am I focusing on behavior and knowledge to the exclusion of impressing a love of God on the hearts of my children?  Or am I giving that mandate the daily attention it requires?

My Role As A Parent
How healthy is my personal spiritual life?  What am I modeling for my children?  Trying to look like the perfect Christian?  Or sharing the Christian journey of struggling with personal weaknesses, relying God in the face of real problems, and making spiritual growth a life priority?  Am I seeking God and allowing Him to lead my family?  Or am I seeking to take control by myself?

Photo:  Pink Sherbet Photography
Have I allowed Satan to discourage or distract me from my primary mission as a parent?  Am I making time for academics, athletics, and extracurricular activities while treating my children's spiritual development as an "extra" activity that is easily neglected?

After this evaluation, I decide what baby steps can I take when a change in direction is needed.  What small change can I make to align our current focus and routine with God's plan for our family?  I feel encouraged by Reggie Joiner's words in Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide...: "A little change in the rhythm of a family's time together can make a lasting impact on the heart of a child . . . . Most parents cannot do everything, but they can do something more.  That 'something' can make a huge difference in the life of the family and in the spiritual growth of a child." 

When I try new ways of leading my children spiritually, I often experience feelings of awkwardness.  The final questions I must ask myself are Am I willing to deal with my own feelings of discomfort to be an instrument of God?  Am I willing to lay aside my ego so God can accomplish His work in my family? 

When you are examining the status of your family's spiritual development, what other categories and questions are important for you?  

Photo:  PresentationPro

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