“Family devotion time always goes according to plan. The time is peaceful and well-planned- the Bible reading, the small devotion, the song, and the prayer. Everyone sits quietly and listens intently while meditating on God’s Word together. I know that every bedtime devotion will go smoothly because I can count on the children getting along so well with each other,” said no parent ever.
When’s the last time your family devotion time looked like that? The answer is likely never. It probably looks more like trying to herd cats and wrestle alligators. Siblings are going to pick at each other and fight. Someone is going to need a potty break in the middle of the main point, and another kid is going to need a bandaid for a mysterious injury. You’re going to get interrupted seventeen times and you may get sidetracked with one kid’s curious questioning. If it’s an extraordinarily spectacular evening, you may even end up with a broken piece of furniture.
Despite all of that, keep going. It was never meant to be picture perfect. Keep these things in mind as you think about and lead your family’s quiet time: lower your expectations, be flexible, and keep showing up.
- Lower your expectations. It’s not going to be perfect. Be realistic about what your family devotion time should really look like. It’s ok if kids are bouncing around, interrupting with potty breaks and left-field questions. Go for presence over perfection.
- Be flexible. Be ready to drop the plan and change course. Sometimes it’s best to find out what’s most important to your child and speak the Gospel into that. If they are troubled about something, it’s a good time to talk about how God comforts and gives us peace. If they are excited about something coming up, celebrate God’s blessings, and enjoy the Creator over the creation.
- Keep showing up. Don’t let a few chaotic bedtime devotions discourage you. When you miss a few nights or get off schedule, that’s fine, start again. You can’t always see the results right away. The best thing you can do is to choose to keep investing in what you can’t see - to keep being present for what doesn’t seem to be happening.
Discipling your kids isn’t always Instagram-worthy. There aren’t enough filters in the world to make it look cute. It’s meant to be messy. That’s where the good stuff happens. One perfect night of reading God’s Word to well-behaved children isn’t going to nurture a lifetime of faith. Showing up when it’s hard and staying there when it’s messy is what will make the difference.