If you’re a man and attend church, you’ve heard a pastor say, “You need to be leading your family spiritually.” Yet many men struggle with this. I know I do.
On a regular basis I’ll sit with a man and he’ll ask me, “How do I lead my wife spiritually? When I’ve tried, I’ve been terrible at it. How do I start?”
Family devotions sound incredibly intimidating and scary for many men. Most men look at their spiritual lives and that of their wife and think, “She’s more spiritual than I am. She’s smarter than I am. She’s more mature spiritually than I am.” There’s a good chance that if you are like most couples, she is.
Now, before giving some ideas, let me say up front that this is hard. Devotions for many couples and families are train wrecks. Kids don’t sit still, they go on tangents, it feels stale or simply feels like you aren’t moving forward at all. The picture of the couple who rises at 5am, drinks coffee and reads their Bibles together while holding hands is not reality for many people. Kids who sit still and listen is also not a reality. (I have four boys, and keeping them in their seats for anything can be monumental.)
Here are a few ideas:
1. Do something. Most couples and families suffer because they don’t do anything. Just do something. You’ll see in a minute that trying different ideas might be a good idea, but simply do something. Even if it is asking, “What is God teaching you right now? Where have you seen God at work recently?”
2. Find what works for you. What works for one family and couple may or may not work for you.
When Katie and I got married, we probably got at least 10 couple’s devotionals for our wedding. We read through many of them, laughed at many of the ridiculous questions they asked and then handed them off to another couple (sorry if you got one). They just didn’t work for us. Neither did rising at 5am to drink coffee and read together. These work for many couples, and that’s great.
Whatever you do, find what works for you as a couple.
For Katie and me, we don’t do couple’s devotions. We often don’t read the same parts of the Bible at the same time or even the same books. We sometimes do, but we often talk about what God is teaching us. We’ll listen to a podcast together, or I’ll find things she should listen to or books she should read.
For us, our spiritual journey together is often debriefing. This keeps us on the same page and keeps us growing together.
3. Decide doing something consistently (even if mediocre) is better than doing something inconsistently that is incredible. More than likely, especially when it comes to family devotions, it will feel mediocre at best and a train wreck at worst. Don’t quit.
Have the long view on this.
Also, and don’t miss this, kids catch more than you think. I am continually surprised at what my kids catch, pick up and remember. That conversation you think they slept through (and if you have teenagers they may have slept through it), they may have picked up 30% of it.
So, build on that.
4. Give some grace. Regardless, give yourself, your kids and your spouse some grace.
One of the things Katie will often encourage women when it comes to this topic is to be okay with your husband fumbling his way through this. Most husbands (even pastors) are not very good at leading their families spiritually. They have a picture in their mind of what it should look like (but it rarely gets there). They feel like they are failing their wife, boring their kids and failing God. They also feel guilt because they should be doing this and doing it better than they are.
So give grace. Celebrate doing something. When it was a train wreck, say it was a nice train wreck. We survived. Our kids heard the gospel and we tried. And we’ll try again tomorrow.