Last week Bryan and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary! It’s hard to express just how much we have matured and grown together during those years. If I had to point to the one thing that has been the strongest catalyst for that growth, it would be our mutual spiritual development.
When we got married, we were both Christians, but our faith was only a small part of our lives. God certainly wasn’t the center of our marriage. Over the years, by God’s grace, we have grown together steadily to this place where nothing is more important in our home than our faith.
As I was reflecting on how important it is that we are on the same page with respect to our family’s spiritual life, I wanted to identify what things specifically make a difference for us in how we raise our kids.
Here are 10 things we agree on that I feel fundamentally drive our desire and ability to create a Christ-centered home.
We agree that:
1. God must be the top priority in our family’s life.
This one trumps all else. If we didn’t both believe this, we would be at odds on the rest of this list.
2. As parents, it is our responsibility to raise our kids as Christ followers, NOT the responsibility of our church.
This is what my whole blog is about – raising kids in a Christ-centered home where faith means more than going to church on Sunday. Building a Christ-centered home, however, would be much more difficult if one of us felt going to church was the extent of what was needed for our spiritual lives.
3. We have equal responsibility for our children’s spiritual development.
Note this doesn’t necessarily mean we spend equal time devoted to it. My husband is the primary wage earner in our family, and I am the “primary child-raiser” in terms of time spent with the kids. But we believe that raising faithful kids is something God holds us both accountable for, and that belief guides us in the desire to make faith-based decisions together.
4. Our church must be spiritually fulfilling for all members of our family.
We’ve been to churches that one of us liked and the other didn’t. We knew we couldn’t continue going somewhere that was not fulfilling for both of us. If at some point we feel our current church is not encouraging the faith of our kids in the way we believe it should, we will seek another place for our family to fellowship. A church home must be home for all of our family members.
5. It’s important to pray together as a family…and not just at mealtime.
We both feel prayer is something important to be shared out loud with our kids so they glimpse an expression of our inward faith and learn how to build a prayerful relationship with God themselves. We always take turns praying out loud so they see and hear both mommy and daddy doing it.
6. It’s important that our kids learn the Bible inside and out.
We both passionately believe that Christians shouldn’t base their faith solely on personal experience. The earthly source of our faith is the Bible and we believe our kids need to be grounded in it. This means Bible study is something we both acknowledge our family needs to engage in together – not just mommy studying with the kids or daddy studying with the kids, but all of us studying together.
7. Caring for our personal spiritual lives is an important prerequisite for being able to care for our children’s spiritual lives.
We are both committed to personally maturing in our Christian faith. It would be very hard for us to put God first for our family overall (number 1 on this list) without each of us putting God first personally. We have no trouble asking each other if the other person has been praying and reading the Bible!
8. When there is disagreement, it has to be addressed.
As an example of this, we have struggled to get to the same page on discipline. But whenever we disagree with the other person on the handling of a situation, you can bet it will be discussed within the hour. There is no “sweeping under the carpet” in our house (for better or worse!). This ensures we aren’t building up resentment toward the other person.
9. Charitable giving is a necessary and joyful part of a Christian’s life.
We donate a consistent portion of our income to our church and charitable causes. Earlier in our marriage, we were not in agreement as much on this. I was quick to see charitable giving as optional when finances got tight. Bryan insisted on seeing charitable giving as a fixed budget line. I’m grateful he won me over so we both now agree charitable giving is not an optional part of our life. As the kids grow, we will include them in the decision making on where we contribute.
10. Humility is a crucial part of our family life.
Looking back at this post, I have to laugh a little. It sounds like we have some kind of perfect home! I assure you: we do not. We fail all the time. Just because we agree on all these points does not mean they always play out as we envision them. When we go wrong, we call each other out. When we go wrong specifically with the kids, we call ourselves out to them. We pray for forgiveness with them and acknowledge our short comings. We pray with the kids that we would be good parents, and that God would help us be the parents we can’t be on our own. We want them to know, in no uncertain terms, that we are not perfect role models. Only Jesus holds that position.
What are the things you find most important to agree with your spouse on? Which of these do you find most difficult to agree on?