Faith and Honor
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How do you pass your faith to your kids? Dave and Ann Wilson describe what impact you’ll have on your children if you set the example of honoring those around you.
Faith and Honor
Ann: So let’s say our family went to another family’s house; and we spent a whole evening together—we ate; we laughed—we got to know each other and their kids.
Dave: That sounds good to me.
Ann: Yes, and we came home; and I said, “Wow! I loved being with them. It felt like they really honored one another.” What do you think I would mean by that?
Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!
Dave: You would mean they valued one another; they spoke words of affirmation and encouragement to one another; they like each other; there is joy in their home. I don’t know—I’m just guessing—those are the things that I would think of.
Ann: Yes; but I wouldn’t want it to be too squeaky clean, because that’s not realistic to me. I know there are going to be flaws, and kids are going to fight and all of that, but there would be an authentic honoring of one another, that is not perfect, but they are seeking Jesus in it.
Dave: Yes; so we’ve also talked about honor is this idea of to bless one another—is to bend the knee—which means, when you bow before someone, you’re saying, “I’m in the presence of someone extremely valuable.”
What would it be like if our kids felt that in their own home?—if we felt that as a mom and dad? We thought, “Okay, if we are going to create honor in our home, we have three aspects: honor God; honor one another; honor our neighbor,”—which is really the commandment Jesus gave us—to say the most important thing you can do is honor God first, and then one another and honor your neighbor.
Today, let’s talk about: “What does it look like to honor one another?” Again, we go back to Deuteronomy 6, which is a pivotal, foundational verse—really, passage—in the history of Israel/in the history of our faith, where it is written in verse 4: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” He is saying that to the parents; we talked previously about how that’s where it starts. If it’s not in us, as mom and dad—if we are not honoring God first—it’s hard for that to be part of our home and passed on.
Then he goes on to talk about impressing this—verse[s] 5, 6, and 7 say—“Impress them”—the commandments of God—“on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, and when you lie down, and when you get up.” It’s on mom and dad to honor God first but then to honor one another. In other words, I think every parent, [who] is a follower of Christ, is saying, “How do I pass on my faith to my kids?” Let’s talk about that.
Ann: I really did take this verse from Deuteronomy and try to put it into practice; like, “How do we impress them on our children?” First, we do talk about them when we sit at home. Where do we do most of the sitting? I mean, most of the time, we would say, “Watching TV”; but another part that we sit is when we are eating together.
I think eating meals together is a great, great place to pass on our faith, to speak love and hope to one another, and also just to find out what is going on in your life right now. Meal time was really, really important to us. Because our kids were super-active, we didn’t do it every single night; but we shot for four days a week that we sat down at a meal together.
Dave: What happens at that meal time? Tell them what Ann Wilson always wanted to do at meal time. [Laughter]
Ann: I need some credit for this because, having three sons, this was not that easy to get everyone to talk at the dinner table.
Dave: You meant four sons. [Laughter]
Ann: You were one of them?—so true. I would always get groaning; by the time they got to be teenagers, they were like, “Ugh!” But we really did try to talk about, like: “Let’s talk about what was a highlight today; what went really well?”
I’ve said this here before, but especially with guys—and girls—to attach a feeling word with it. Even with little kids, it’s really important for them to be able to express what they feel about something. I think that’s a really good practice to get into. So also, to hear: “What was hard about today? Did anything happen that you feel like, ‘Man, this didn’t go very well’?” And then we would talk about it.
Dave: In this culture—in this speed, and everybody is involved in so many things; and we hurry, hurry, hurry—to sit down, as a family and have a meal, has to be scheduled; I mean, you have to put it on the calendar. You have to say, “This matters.” We’re not going to say, “Yes,” to everything; because we have to say, “No,” to things so that we can sit down, as a family, and have a meal together; right?
Ann: Yes; one of my favorite things that I’ve ever done over in Israel is to experience a Shabbat dinner/a Sabbath dinner with a Jewish family and experience the culture in which they truly honored one another. They would speak the Word/God’s Word over one another. They would bless one another—they would actually put their hand/the right hand of blessing on one another—the father over the mother, the father over the children.
I cried during it, because it was so beautiful. It was such a place of honor and love; but our kids are longing for that for their parents to know them/to talk to them. They may not express it, but they need it and long for it.
Dave: I’m glad that you made it a priority, to say, “Family dinner time is not going to be pushed off the calendar.” Now, we also said, “No cell phones;”—even back then—“no phone on the wall”; we didn’t answer it. You know, as a pastor, emergencies come up; it’s like: “We’re not answering the phone. This is to honor one another/to say, ‘You are extremely valuable right now. The phone gets put away. It’s not even on the table. Put it away.’” When the boys had phones: “Put them away; we’re going to focus on one another during meal time.”
Ann: If your kids are little, it’s a great practice to get into now. My friend put them in a basket; they just put them in a basket when they ate dinner. When your kids are little, start it. If they are teenagers, you say, “Hey, you guys, we have a new practice. This meal time is really important for us, so we are going to put our phones away.” You might have some pushback at first, but it will pay off.
Dave: Okay, here is another one. We’ve got meal time. Another chance to pass on your faith, and pause and honor one another, is bedtime. Talk about bedtime, even as they were like toddlers, and even as teenagers.
Ann: It’s interesting because we would read—I think from the time they were two; probably younger—but from the time they got into a little bed until the time/probably until high school—we read books together: devotionals, classic literature. We would also—here’s the blessing—put our hands on them at night—that right hand/that hand of blessing and honor—and we would pray over them every single night.
Because they don’t want to go to sleep, that’s the time when you hear a lot of what is going on in their hearts: what they are fearful of, what they are worried about, what they are thinking. Man, we would either lay on the floor or just lay in the bed with them.
You guys, it is so hard when your kids are little because you just like—“I just want to go and have some time to myself,”—you long for that. But I would really encourage that you take advantage of that time when they still want you there to talk to.
Dave: Yes, I mean, when they are little, they are crawling on your head [Laughter], even if you are trying to read the Bible or listen to a kids devotional. You want it to be squeaky clean, and you want them to be all—and they are just little kids—they are crawling all over.
I do remember this: when the boys became teenagers, there was a sense in me that it felt somewhat awkward to lay in bed with them. You know, like now, it’s men; they are not boys anymore. I would love lying in bed [when they were younger]; but as they got older, and they became men, it’s like, “This feels weird.” But I tell you—that bedtime is still critical; right?—lay on the floor. Ask them about their day; talk. It’s like this precious, little moment. In some ways, they said it was their favorite times with us, as their parents; right?
Ann: Oh, yes. I would also encourage you: “Have your kids pray out loud from the time they are little.” Get them in the habit of praying out loud because that builds their confidence in their prayer life. If they get older, and someone says, “Hey, could you pray?” they don’t freak out because they’ve never done that before. It just becomes a habit; it’s a habit, and it’s natural to be praying out loud.
I would say this, too, parents, as you are in their bed, talking to them—whatever—don’t be on your phones. It’s really easy—because it can feel really boring as they are talking about, maybe, something over and over again—they are so little, and it might feel so trivial; but to them, your undivided attention is really important.
I remember, years ago, reading this book by Jean Lush. She wrote a book called Mothers & Sons. In it, she talked about this experience she had with her daughter. She and her husband actually worked at a girls’ home, and they watched over the girls’ dormitory. One night, Jean was putting her daughter to bed; and she had heard of a rumor that there was going to be a breakout that night of some of the girls. She was on alert, thinking, “They could be breaking out. I need to get out of this room. I need to find out what is happening.”
Her little daughter was nine years old. She was saying, “Good night,” but she felt like something was on her daughter’s mind. She was in a rush; so she said, “Honey, what’s wrong? Just tell me what’s happening.” Her daughter kept hemming and hawing, and Jean kept getting more and more frustrated; she said, “Just tell me; what’s happening?!” Her daughter said this: “Mom, I can’t talk to you when you are like this. I need you to lie down in your soul first before I can open up.” Jean said, “I laid there and thought, ‘Oh, Lord, this is so like me. I’m always moving ahead of her; I’m always moving onto the next thing. I need to settle down my soul.”
How articulate of a nine-year-old to be able to say, “I need you to rest in your soul before I can open up my soul.” Sure enough, as Jean was in bed with her little girl, the little girl ended up saying that she was teased that day by her teacher. The teacher had told her that she was dumb, and her daughter cried and cried about that. Jean said, “I almost lost that moment, because I was so about getting on to the next thing.”
Man, that is easy to do as parents; isn’t it?
Dave: Yes; I know that now, looking back, as a grandparent. A decision I made when the boys were really little—and in the moment, I didn’t realize how important it was—but now, I look back and think, “That was one of the best decisions I made,”—was when you said to me, when the boys were just three/four years old, when I asked you, “When do you need me the most to help: morning or evening?” You said, “Evening,”—you know, bedtime. I went to our church that we had just started, and I said, “No more evening meetings with me. I need to be home in the evening with my wife and my boys, putting them to bed.”
Ann: I think we said, “…five days a week.”
Dave: Yes; I just said, “If you want to meet at five in the morning, I’ll meet. If you want to meet six in the morning, I’ll meet; but in the evening, I need to be home.” I’m so glad—again, we didn’t do it perfectly—I’m so glad we seized that moment. I made that commitment to say, “I’m going to honor God first; and if I’m going to honor my family, it has to be a priority on my calendar.” It was so easy to get pulled away on other things.
So you’ve got like meal time—you know, you build these routines—you’ve got bedtime. Here is another one I watched you do—drive time—when you’ve got them in the car with you.
Ann: Oh, yes; what I say is: “We have a captured audience in the car,”—this is the opportunity. I think it’s really easy—and we all know this—it’s easy to give your kids a device in the car; because they are quiet, and it’s so much easier. But man, this drive time is opportune time to—one: if they are going to school/if you’re driving them to school, ask them, “How can I pray for you today?” “Do you have any tests?” “Anything you are worried about?” “Anything I can be praying for you during the day?”—even so, you can pray out loud.
I’ve said this so many times before: “From the time I put my kids in infant seats, I prayed out loud with them in the car.” I think it’s a great practice for them to see that God is not a God of Sundays/He’s just about going to church. He is a relational God, who wants a relationship with [us]. As we model talking to God—what that looks like when we’re happy, when we’re sad, when we are angry—our kids realize: “I want that relationship with Jesus.” That time in the car is really, really important.
Dave: Basically, all we are trying to say is: “If we are trying to honor God first, and honor one another, and pass on our faith, there are moments every day.”
Here is the thing: there are moments every week. I don’t think a lot of us, as parents, understand, from birth to age 18—again, I don’t know if they are leaving the home at 18, or 17, or 19, or 20—but if you just take from birth to 18, guess how many weeks you have?—
Ann: I don’t know.
Dave: —with your child? You have 936 weeks—that sounds like forever—but it’s like: “What if you said, ‘I’m going to seize this week’?” One of the things we’ve talked about here many times—we don’t need to get into it—but we decided Friday nights would be Wilson family night/Wilson party night.
We sort of created a routine—and I don’t think we missed very many Friday nights—where we didn’t miss Wilson family night. It was like; “This is a night to honor our family and say, ‘Nothing else gets on the calendar. We’re going to protect this night to watch VHS movies,’—[Laughter]—that tells you how long ago it was—‘and just have a night with the family.’” Again, you don’t realize you only have 900 or so of those; and then they are gone.
Ann: We made it fun, man.
Dave: Oh, it was awesome.
Ann: It’s not like [sounding dismayed]: “Oh, it’s family night.” These kids were like [excitedly], “It’s FRIDAY! It’s WILSON night!” They could not wait to participate, because we would do something fun that they would love. Besides watching a movie, we would go swimming; or we would have a big snowball fight. We would do something that was fun, and part of that is our personality; but man, they could not wait; and they are doing it with their own kids.
Dave: By the way, something you never think of—when you are thinking of honoring your kids and passing on your faith—is don’t miss this weekly event, as well: a date night for your marriage. It doesn’t have to be every single week—but I tell you what—if you prioritize that and say to your kids, “You know what? For a relationship to flourish, Mom and Dad need to go out and be alone,”—they get it at 9, 10, 15, 16 years old.
Ann: I was going to say, Dave, too, to not forget church.
Dave: Oh, yes.
Ann: Like Hebrews says, “Do not neglect gathering together.” I think it’s really easy today to not go to church. People, especially after COVID, you can have a hesitancy to go back. I would say, “Find a church that preaches God’s Word, that has great small groups, and get plugged in.” That is one of the greatest things you can do for your whole family.
Dave: One last thought: to honor your neighbor.
Dave: I mean, He calls us, as a family and as individuals, to not just love one another and love God, but to take that love from God and literally love your neighbor. It could be a neighbor right next door; it could be a stranger you meet, who becomes your neighbor, because you are in relationship with them; but it’s like: “What would it look like to model for kids to love your neighbor?”
Ann: One of the things I’ve been doing lately is I take my niece—my great niece, actually—we have an adventure, we call it. I do that with our grandkids, too, where we have an adventure. Part of the time is we are going to have a lot of fun/we’re going to have a blast; but the other part is I pray before we go, “Lord, lead us to someone who we could love and see today, and we could bless them.”
We’ve done that by doing different things. Sometimes, we’ve just said, “Hi,” to people; maybe, a homeless person/we’ll give a homeless person money. We’ll pray at the beginning of our adventure, like, “Lord, who needs this? Will you guide us and show us a person who would really be blessed by this?”
To have like a six-year-old with you, and you are praying this, I said to her, “Let’s find the person. When you feel God’s nudge of His Spirit, let’s really try to feel like, ‘Lord, who could we bless this day?’”
Dave: I remember, when the boys were little, we said we were going to mow, literally, our next door neighbor’s yard. She was an older woman.
Ann: Well, we did; we mowed every week. She complained—because that [mowing] was a job—but we tried to rake her leaves one time.
Dave: Oh, that’s what it was; yes. She used to sit at the front window and just yell at people for stepping on her yard. [Laughter] She yelled at us for raking her leaves—
Dave: Again, it’s like trying to show our boys that honor—you don’t just honor people you like—you honor people who are hard to like. Who knows what her whole story was? But it was like: “God calls us to honor Him, to honor one another, and to honor even people [who] are hard to honor.”
Then—I think I’ve said it here before—but then, a couple years later, I hear this thud one day when I’m in the front yard. I look over, and she had fallen in her garage; that’s what the thud was. I walk over. I literally pick her up and carry her into her house—first time I’ve ever been in, because she wouldn’t let anybody into her house—put her on her couch.
Long story short, when she sort of got herself back together, she looked at me, now, differently; because I had helped. Next thing I know, I’m down in her basement, looking at her husband’s workspace that had never been touched since he died. It was like this beautiful moment, like she did feel loved by the Wilsons next door; because we tried to honor God, each other, and our neighbor.
What would you say to the family who wants to live this out?
Ann: I would say, “It would be cool to tell your kids, like, ‘Hey, this is what we are thinking’”; or maybe, you are an empty-nester, and you’re thinking, “I don’t know how this applies to me.” Oh, man! Can I just say, “There are so many parents of young kids, that are longing for grandparents to come help, because their parents are out of town”? There are so many different ways that we could honor God by loving other people.
Dave: I would just add: we gave you a lot of ideas of how to pass your faith onto your kids. I would say, “Pick one or two and start today.”
Bob: The Bible calls each one of us to live as honorable people—people who are worthy of receiving honor—but also people who honor others; it’s a biblical theme. It is something that, as we’ve heard from Dave and Ann Wilson today, can be lived out in so many different ways in our home, in our family, in our neighborhood, our community, our church. Thinking about practical ways we can express value, and honor, and worth to others is a good exercise, especially here during Thanksgiving week. I hope you’ll take some time today and think, practically, about how you can live this out in your family.
Dave referenced a book that was helpful for him—a book called The Blessing: Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance—it’s a book we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. If you’d like to explore the subject of honor further, go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order a copy of the book, The Blessing; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. The number to call: 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
I know, for most of us, the thing that is looming large on our calendar this week is Thanksgiving celebration with the family/whatever plans you have made for the holiday. This is a season, at FamilyLife, where we are thinking about what we have to be thankful for. Of course, it has been a tough year for everyone—a tough year for our ministry—but David Robbins, who is the president of FamilyLife, is here with us. David, there is a lot that we have, as a ministry, to be thankful for.
David: Yes, I think of several things that I’m thankful for. One, I just want to thank you/for those of you who have contributed to FamilyLife with generosity over this year.
You know, I was on a mentor call with Dennis Rainey. As we were processing, he was just reflecting/going, “I never had a season”—in his 40-plus years of leadership, where he had to completely shut down an area of the ministry because of a pandemic. There were times like a recession—less people came—but yet, to have to shut a whole arm of the ministry down for a season was something unique to navigate.
The reality, for us, is God has sustained us. I’m so grateful for the way God has sustained FamilyLife. It has been largely through ministry partners, like many of you, who have given generously. Thank you so much for helping us continue to live out the mission.
Secondly, I think about the number of people, who are facing more needs in their home—whether that is their marriage, or whether that’s with their kids, whether it’s anxiety or depression, or having to walk through different challenges that the last two years have brought—the opportunity amongst marriages and families are showing. You’ve helped ministry continue. Our homepage traffic has increased by over ten percent, people coming on their own to find help for their marriage or family. Our podcast listening has increased 60 percent, because people are wanting to finish a show that they hear on radio and go finish it. People are looking for help, and we’ve been able to provide it for them because of your generosity.
Third, I’m thankful we can still remember back—it took an 18-month break—and I’m so thankful that, even though we’re having to take precautions and to make sure that we have a safe environment, they are back. God is producing so much fruit, helping meet couples where they are at; because it has been a challenging time.
That’s a lot; yet, ultimately, I’m just grateful that God keeps meeting us where we are at with His presence, and that we get to be a part, at FamilyLife, of helping bring Jesus to meet people where they are at.
Bob: Well, of course, we are thankful for those of you who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today. Those of you who support this ministry financially, thank you for your partnership with us through the year; and thank you for remembering FamilyLife as we approach yearend as well.
We hope you can join us, again, tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day, here in the United States, when we’re going to hear about an unusual spiritual awakening that took place—this was a number of years ago—in a pro-football locker room over the course of a season. Dave Wilson will introduce us to some of the Detroit Lions teammates who were a part of that spiritual season, and we’ll hear from them tomorrow. The Lions play tomorrow; so maybe, before the game, you’ll tune in and hear about what God did in the Lions’ locker room many years ago. I hope you can do that.
On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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