Do you want to do all of those Christian parenting things you know you should be doing, but struggle with consistency? Perhaps you do well for a couple of weeks, then something happens and you never seem to be able to keep up those great new habits.
The key word there is habit. Although Christianity is ultimately about our hearts, many of the things we need to do to keep our faith strong and Christian parent well are actually habits. We need to do them every day or several times a day to accomplish our spiritual goals.
If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit or start a new one, you know how difficult it can be. Most of the time the very thought of trying to establish a new habit is enough to exhaust us. I don’t go to the gym because changing clothes, driving several miles, finding a class I like….all of it just feels too overwhelming.
There’s a great book called Tiny Habits by B. J. Fogg. I highly recommend reading it, if you can find the time. It’s not a Christian book, but a lot of the information can be easily adapted to be used in trying to live a Christian life.
There are a couple of key points for establishing new habits I want to share with you. It’s only a small fraction of all of the great material in the book, but you may find these three tips change everything for you.
Let’s say you want to have a family devotional time every day. You’ve started and stopped so many times, it feels like you will never be consistent. Here are three things you can do that may help you finally have those daily devotionals consistently.
- Pick the best time. Find a time in your schedule as it is right now when you can easily and consistently fit a 20 minute family devotional. Make sure you consider possible roadblocks that could occur in that time slot, like a family member with other commitments. Let’s say your family always has dinner together. Can you work in the devotional immediately following your meal? Or could you have it while you are eating? Don’t try at this point to swap the devotional for another activity currently in that time slot, like watching a favorite tv show. You will be less likely to follow through if one of you feels they are giving up something for the new habit.
- Make the new habit really tiny. This was the part that changed everything for me. Our new habits are always grandiose. We want a 20 minute family devotional that meets the spiritual needs of your kids, is engaging, and of course has some complex activity to make the point of the scripture reading memorable. It’s easy to fail the first time something goes wrong and give up. Instead, aim for reading a verse of scripture and having a very short prayer of blessing over your kids. Two minutes tops. If you want to do more, great! On those inevitable bad days, just read one verse of scripture and pray over your kids. Choose a book like Proverbs or a Gospel to start to make it easier to quickly find a great verse to read. (If you choose Proverbs, just read one verse from the chapter corresponding to that day’s date – January 15 – read one verse from Proverbs chapter 15. Or read the verse of the day in the Bible app.) A “victory” is that one verse and blessing prayer. Pat yourselves on the back and cheer every day you do it. On those days when you have a full devotional and activity…you’ve won the Super Bowl! On those crazy, bad days, you’ve still met your goal even if your family only read one verse of scripture together. The goal is consistency, not the amount of time or amount of scripture covered.
- Create daily reminders you can’t miss. Set the alarm on everyone’s phone to go off at the chosen time. Have the Bible already out and open at the place you have chosen to have the devotional. Make signs that say “Devotional today at (time and place)” and hang them around your house where everyone will see them. Part of starting a new habit is remembering to actually do it! With lots of reminders, you will have less nights when you remember the devotional after everyone is in bed.
I encourage you to read the book to get more ideas, but start with these now. See if you can use them to ingrain those Christian parenting habits you need.