This family at the time was going through Starr Meade’s Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. Their love for each other and the responsiveness of the children to the parents was evident. And so we promptly bought the same book, which is a family devotional based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. After a few months, our mentor family moved away, but we kept on going with our family worship. We did different books through different seasons. But things kept escalating until we arrived at the point where my husband wrote a family liturgy that we would recite—a liturgy that might be beautiful if done correctly in a church but not fit for family worship. In our zeal for “godliness,” we crushed our children with “family worship.”
TOOLS OF DISCIPLESHIP
Family worship is a tool, and if the parents are tethered to the gospel, it can be a wonderful discipleship tool in the home. However, if this tool is not used wisely it can become a joyless burden to the children. Discernment is required. We should probably think through a few guiding principles as we seek to use the tool of family worship in our homes.
1. A MERCIFUL PERSPECTIVE
First, we need to remember to be merciful to our children in the area of family worship. Many Christian parents love their children and desire them to grow into Christ followers. This is as it should be, and I praise God for it. But with this comes a temptation that we should be aware of and work to keep in check. We can be so driven by our desires to see our kids saved and sanctified we forget how God deals with us as his children. I think it is helpful to not only think of ourselves as parents but as children—Children of our heavenly Father. If we keep this thought at the forefront of our parenting, it will drive us to be more mindful of their perspective or frame.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. – Psalm 103:13–14
In this Psalm, God is compared to a father who shows compassion on his children. If we are not characterized by compassion to our children, this should cause us to do a 180 degree turn! Scrolling up to verse 8, we are told, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.”