By Courtney Chambers
It is a new year, which means change for many. Some might resolve to find a new job, hit the gym for the first time, or change their area of study. I’ve had many Januarys where I decided to start a diet, make a reading goal, or push myself in some new task for the year. Something about a new year challenges us to think we can try something new. This year, I want to challenge us parents to make this year count by reorienting our focus on Christ each day. I want to challenge us to follow these five steps this year and see what happens within our home.
Get involved in your local church
My husband is a pastor of a church, and I’ve grown up going to church all my life. I never fully understood the benefits of a local church until I was married and away from home. Within your local church, you have community. You worship together, observe the ordinances, and hear God’s Word taught. Being active within your local church is vital for personal growth. God did not intend us to be solo Christians; He created us for community.
Our families need like-minded families to support and encourage us. Our children can benefit from others in the church pouring into them, and as parents, we can benefit by having the church come alongside us as we parent and disciple our kids. For this new year, I want to challenge you all to stay active in your local church. Make Sunday services a priority for your family, and choose to fellowship and be involved within your body. Serve in a new area, get involved in small group Bible studies, and take the initiative to get to know someone better within the church.
Nothing is more encouraging than seeing local church members loving on my children and encouraging my husband. It also brings me great joy to serve families with meals, pour into other kids, and fellowship on coffee dates or park days throughout the week. Sunday services are only a tiny amount of time compared to the entire week. Let’s not let that be the only time we fellowship and have community with our local church. Strive to get out and connect each week and see what God does through those relationships.
Make a goal of daily reading God’s Word
To know who God is, we must study who He is. The only way to learn about God is to read the Word of God. We can read God’s Word while in planned church functions, but we can’t miss the opportunity to read God’s Word on our own. For many years, I wasn’t sure where to start in this matter, and I did nothing at all because I didn’t know what to do. Reading God’s Word may be confusing initially, but the more you read and study, the more you learn. We must dive in and study. Use resources to help you understand, find a Bible reading plan to guide you, or use a devotional book to help you know what you read.
The point is to make personal Bible reading a priority for this year. This will impact you personally, but it will also affect the way you interact with your family. Making personal Bible reading a priority also teaches your children what matters to their parents. Children naturally look to their parents; if you watch closely, they will mimic us in our mannerisms and phrases we might say. How beautiful would it be for our children to recognize our need to read and study God’s Word and to seek to do the same?
Choosing to read your Bible daily will take dedication. It is easy to hit the snooze button to enjoy those extra minutes and click the next button on your TV as you watch Netflix or scroll on social media when your kids nap. It can sometimes be difficult for us to sit down and choose to pick up our Bible. I want to challenge us this year to do this. Find a time in your schedule, whether it’s ten minutes or thirty minutes, and read your Bible. Listen to it, read it, study it, whatever you choose, do it, and see how it impacts your life as a Christian parent.
Find a resource for your family to use together
When we prioritize Bible reading within our personal lives, this will naturally flow into our family life. We will want to talk about what we have learned with our spouse and children. We want others to know about God and his goodness. This year, I want to challenge you to find resources to use as a family. These resources could be catechism songs or family devotionals, or they could be games or conversation starters that you use while in the car or at the table. There is no cookie-cutter way to study God’s Word together as a family.
One of my favorite things we use as a family is the Cross Formed Kids family discipleship curriculum. We started at the beginning of Scripture and have built each week. Each week, my kids learn songs with gospel truths that they sing all week. We dive into Scripture and talk over the questions at dinner time, then craft as we talk over what we have learned. This has been a simple addition to our family schedule that is impacting our children’s lives.
Resources are there to assist you as the parents. In a world of busyness, these tools can be a gift to us as a family. I encourage us as parents to find tools that work for your family and seek out specific times in your schedule that work well. It might not be every day or at the same time every day that you can use these resources; you are not failing as a parent if you miss a week. The purpose is to help us as parents point our children to Jesus. Let’s be resourceful this year and use tools to help us reach our children for Christ.
Create a prayer list and watch God work
Most of us can be honest in saying that our prayer life is weaker than we would like. Someone once said that active trust is active prayer. This means that when we actively trust God, our lives display active prayer. For this new year, I want to challenge us as parents to implement this.
Practically, this could look like writing down our prayers and trusting God. Whether the situation is big or small, we must trust that God can work there. Prayer is recognizing God’s sovereignty and our inability to do anything alone. It displays the proper dependence on a perfect God. As humans, we often try to fix things and handle the weight of situations independently, yet God’s Word tells us to give him our burdens and find rest in him (Matt 11:28-30). Prayer displays our need for God. This year, let’s make prayer a priority. Let’s give God the burdens of our lives and rest in Him while we trust in his sovereign goodness.
The Christian life was never meant to be lived in isolation. We need others to point us up to Jesus. The reality is some days, we need people to encourage us and point us to Christ, and other days, people need us to do the same for them. This year, I want to challenge parents to find accountability within their local church. Find people who can check in on you and ensure you are active in living out spiritual disciplines in your life. Find people to push you to Jesus and those willing to encourage and correct you with the Word of God. As Christian parents, we are seeking to raise children in the ways of the Lord on top of seeking to live to glorify God with our own lives. It is challenging and hard to do when done in our strength. Accountability can help us as we choose to live for Christ rather than ourselves.
Spiritual disciplines are essential to every Christian life, but I would argue it is vital for parents’ lives. We need the local church, God’s Word, prayer, and accountability. We will never be perfect parents, but we can point our children to a perfect God. One way to do this in this new year is to apply spiritual disciplines daily.
Courtney Chambers is a pastor’s wife and mom of three living in northeast Missouri. Courtney has a Bachelor’s in World Missions and a Master’s in Biblical Counseling. Courtney is passionate about biblical theology and reaching the next generation. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, and baking. You can find her @courtneyrchambers and @thereformedlife