Family Night May 17, 2024

Family time

Family Night

Friday night was family night at our house growing up. Dad traveled for business through the week and, once he started preaching, preached in area churches many nights. But Friday night was different. It had been, to borrow a Bible expression, “set apart” specifically for us to be together.
As I have grown older it has become more evident what a special (and wise) arrangement this was for our family. Like most modern homes, life is busy, time is short, and distractions are many. If you spend time with those you love most it will not be on accident – it will be on purpose.
I remember Dad turning down other engagements and invitations on Friday nights, because “he already had an appointment.” This was very meaningful to me and my sister. Family mattered. Children were a priority to my parents.
When God gave Tammy and me children we determined to follow this principle. It was not always Friday night and it was not always something elaborate, but we made every effort to have dedicated time with our family each week. I have never once regretted those times.
If I had it all to do over again, I would have been even more guarded about those fleeting days. Someone asked me recently what changes I would make if I could go back to the early years with our children. While there are many areas I would want to do better in, the one thing I know is that I would be more intentional.

Permit me to share a few suggestions:

  • Plan something every week that every member of the family will enjoy. This does not have to be expensive or “big.” Small, simple things can be very special. One of my favorite memories was Mom making her famous homemade pizzas for family night. Sometimes it was a board game, time with a fishing pole at the pond, or a trip across town for ice cream. Don’t make the family do only what you enjoy; find out what they like and make memories together. Keep it fun and something that every family member will look forward to.
  • Spend some time with each member of the family. Everyone needs attention and affection, especially from their father and mother. Susannah Wesley had a house full of children, but she set aside one hour each week specifically with each. It made a world of difference.
  • Watch for the incidental moments. Sometimes our Heavenly Father orchestrates opportunities that were not on our calendars! Key family moments present themselves when we are not expecting them. Several members of our family were all home together the other evening. It was a rare time at this stage in our lives. A pickup basketball game in the driveway turned into a family competition that everyone from the grandparents to the grandchildren enjoyed. It was a good reminder not to be in such a hurry that you miss these moments!
  • Have meaningful conversations. One of the cheap substitutes for “family time” has become everyone sitting in the same room on separate devices and never speaking to one another. Turn the media off. Lay the mobile device down. Talk to the people who live under your roof!
  • Keep your family connected to the church family. There has been a rising trend of people neglecting the public meetings of the local church to have “family time.” While I certainly believe in dedicated time for family, I do not believe this should be in place of assembling with God’s children. We need both! Dad and Mom took us to services early, stayed late, and frequently volunteered to help. It did not harm us; it helped us. Church was something we looked forward to – not something we complained about. The Puritans suggested that the father initiate conversation after each church meeting with his own family about how the Word of God could be applied in their lives. What a helpful habit for the drive home! Some of my earliest memories of witnessing and serving the Lord were alongside my parents. Children learn by example what is truly important.

The biblical model found in Deuteronomy 6 is so helpful. Fathers and mothers are instructed to talk with their children “…when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). This presupposes that we are together! The lack of families having meals together, sitting around a table, and discussing life is one of the great losses of our generation. Adjust whatever you need to adjust to place the priority on what matters most.

Dad and Mom are now great-grandparents, and they are continuing to teach us much about passing on a godly heritage to the next generation. Recently, we asked them to step into our studio and talk about a few things they have learned. Truth is timeless and biblical counsel is good for us all.
The first of these brief video clips is my mother talking about keeping home happy. I can testify that she lived this principle. We are excited to share more of this content for families. In honor of family night, each Friday for the next several weeks we will post another short video on our YouTube channel. I hope you will watch these and discuss them with your family.
Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as you guide your home. Be intentional about applying truth in your marriage and with your children. You will be glad someday when your children and grandchildren are talking to their children about what they learned from you, both on family night and on normal days.

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