Updated: Jun 20, 2018
In preaching through 1 Samuel, we are immediately confronted with the miraculous birth of a little boy named Samuel. The circumstances surrounding his birth direct our attention to his parents and the deliberate choices they make. I believe we see some very basic principles that ought to outline Christian parenting. I want to lay out some basic principles of Christian parenting based on the principles we see in 1 Samuel 1:21-28. As your pastor, my heart longs to see your family defined by these basic Biblical principles.
Strong Leadership - Leadership requires priority and preparation.
In 1:21, we see that Elkanah led his entire family on an annual pilgrimage to the House of the Lord in Shiloh. Elkanah was a man who set the priority of worship for his home. There's not a great deal of details provided about Elkanah and his family, but we know that he led his house to a greater house, the House of the Lord. This would be the equivalent of what we might call corporate worship or "going to church." We would assume that the family held some sort of private or personal religious practices in between the annual gatherings in Shiloh. We do know with certainty that this annual trip was a priority for this family. Imagine for a moment the level of preparation a family journey such as this would take; spiritual preparation as well as physical preparation. Let's be honest, we have a hard time getting our kids to church on time just a few miles down the road. Think about what it would take get the whole family on a multi-day journey, without the use of in-car DVD players and tablets! In 1 Sam.1:24, when Hannah finally takes her young son to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, she doesn't go empty handed. She actually has gathered a three-year old bull, and ephah of flour, and a skin of wine to take with her. Again, worship was priority, and therefore, it required preparation. Worship was not an afterthought or a spontaneous action. The example set before us by Hannah and Elkanah teaches us that faithful parenting requires strong leadership; leadership that sets the priority of worship, and priority requires preparation.
If something is important to you, you will prepare for it. You demonstrate this principle with priorities in your life on a regular basis. You probably prepare for your work day. You probably prepare your kids for their day at school. Maybe on Sunday evenings you think through the upcoming week and prepare for it. I'm sure you prepare to go on vacation, by planning and packing. Perhaps you prepare your vehicle for a road trip by changing the oil and rotating the tires. People actually live by these principles, many folks just haven't applied them to their family's worship experiences. I want to encourage you to begin thinking about preparing for worship.
There are a few simple steps you can begin to lead your family to do in order to prepare your family to worship; and thus, to establish worship as a priority for your family.
Make a decision. Simply decide that your family will join in corporate worship on the Lord's Day. Often times you may not go just because nobody has made the decision to go. Begin talking about it with your spouse and your children earlier in the week. Make statements about church on Sunday or attending Sunday school class, or anything that communicates to them that a decision has been made. Make conscious efforts to be very clear on Saturday about what the family will be doing on Sunday. Your family should wake on Sunday expecting to join with other believers and worship God.
Make Logistical preparations. Prepare your clothes, your car, you breakfast and lunch plans, etc. Let me explain. Satan will take advantage of the unprepared family on Sunday morning, and you will either not make it to worship on time, at all, or with good attitudes. You can prevent certain Sunday morning arguments with your children by giving baths and laying out their clothes on Saturday evening. Maybe even allow them to help pick out their clothes. Iron or wash anything that needs it. Make sure socks match, make sure you have 2 matching shoes, etc. Load the diaper bag up on Saturday. Check your gas tank and make sure you have have enough fuel to get you through the day's activities. Put together a breakfast casserole that simply needs to be baked on Sunday morning, or plan to get up earlier if you want to fix a big breakfast. Determine on Saturday what your family will be eating for lunch on Sunday. Think through ingredients, even setting them out, so that you can make any necessary grocery store runs on Saturday. Crockpot meals are wonderful for Sundays! There are so many Sunday morning arguments that can actually be avoided by some very basic preparation! Simultaneously, by making these preparations every week, you will communicate to your family that public worship on the Lord's Day is top priority!
Prepare your family spiritually. Beginning on Friday evening or Saturday, you can simply add some intentional thoughts to your family prayers; "Lord, prepare our hearts to worship you on Sunday," or "Prepare our hearts to hear a word from you this Sunday." Pray with your family that God would use the hour of worship on Sunday in each of your lives. If your pastor gives you any indication as to his text that he will be preaching, you can read it ahead of time. This is one of the reasons I typically preach through books of the Bible or at least, passages of the Bible, in a verse-by-verse fashion. My congregation may not know exactly how many verses I'll be preaching on Sunday, but they typically know exactly which verse I will begin with. I pick up in the text where I concluded the previous Sunday. Read the text ahead of time, as a family, and perhaps you might even lead your family through a preliminary discussion of the text. You'll be amazed and the effects this will have on your heart, as well as the hearts of your children.
God has entrusted your children to you to steward well! Establish the priority of worshipping God for your home. If you don't prioritize worship for your family while raising your children, don't expect your children to prioritize worship in their homes one day. Will you begin this week? Will you prepare your family to worship this Lord's Day?
You can watch the sermon from 1 Samuel 1:21-28 below, beginning at the 36:50 mark.