Have you ever gone to someone else’s home, expected one thing, and been asked to do something completely different? Something completely…weird? My best friend growing up, Lindsey, didn’t watch TV. Like, ever. Her family didn’t even have cable. I thought they were the most deprived humans ever, but, realistically, Lindsey didn’t miss TV, and to this day she has an incredible imagination. The culture of her home was simply different than the culture of mine.
All of our homes have a culture. You probably haven’t thought about your home as having a distinct culture, but you certainly have a mode of operation, a default state of being—it’s “the way we do things around here.” Your home culture is probably a big mix of the way you and your spouse were raised, your personal preferences, your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses. Some homes are more confrontational, some are more quiet, some love sports, and some hold family board game night as the highlight of the week. But have you ever given thought to the fact that your home culture, your default mode of operation, influences your children more than any individual action or conversation? That culture, as a culmination of your child’s lifetime of your choices both for and around him or her, is one of the most strategic tools you have as you lead your children spiritually.
Check out what Deuteronomy 6 tells us about establishing a spiritual culture in our homes:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Talk about it. Live it. Eat it; sleep it; breathe it. Pay attention to how you live. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always hold up this mantle of faith in my home. This scripture still encourages me, though, because it tells me that every day is full of opportunity—I just need to ask God to open up my eyes and help my mind focus on my purpose: raising my children to know Him. If I can stop letting the culture in my home naturally create itself and realize that I have power over the “how we do things around here,” I immediately become so empowered to shepherd my children in their relationships with Christ.
Each day is full of opportunities to talk about God—what He loves, how He works, how He feels about situations we encounter. We can ask our children questions and wonder together. We can pray together, silently, out loud, and for each other. We can pray for the people we love, and pray for the people we don’t. We can serve together, do random acts of kindness to bless people, laugh together, and apologize to one another when we are wrong. We can be these kingdom people that Deuteronomy 6 describes—we just have to set our eyes on that prize; we have to choose this life, actively, every day.
It’s easier said than done. Realistically, when someone hurts my kid, I don’t want to pray for that little punk so much as I want to call his mama and make some things clear. When my children are on my last nerve, my reflex is not to explain calmly that I am frustrated and ask them to help me. After a long day, I don’t feel like wondering why God made the platypus with anyone. In that moment, I’m probably hangry and the platypus is real low on my priority list. Sometimes praying out loud with my kid feels daunting. Sometimes praying for them at all is just plain hard—I’d rather stay irritated than invite God into the situation. Sometimes asking my kid to pray for me feels too vulnerable. Sometimes I’m just tired. It’s not always my nature to turn to God as I walk along the road, when I lie down and get up. It’s not always my nature, but it is always my choice—I just need to open my eyes to see it.
The cultures of our homes are built on the seemingly tiny choices we make every day: doing homework, responding to the unpleasant surprise, sorting socks one more time, counseling through the bullying situation. We can choose life in the Spirit or in the flesh. There is set before us all life and death, blessings and curses (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Today, and every day, let’s make a point see the choice and to choose life, to choose God, so our homes become fountains of life in Him. Our kids will start to naturally choose life by the Spirit, blessing instead of cursing. Why? Well, to them it’s just “the way we do things around here.”