“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” – Joshua 24:15
New Year’s resolutions often involve giving up bad habits or creating new good habits. As individuals, we may vow to exercise more, or to eat a healthier diet. As a school community, we’ve been focused this year on what it means to be “Rooted in Christ” (Col.2:6-7). As educators we’ve talked about ways in which our habits at school encourage our students to grow strong roots. As a school that exists to partner with parents and churches in educating and discipling the students entrusted to us, we’ve wondered how many healthy spiritual habits have been disrupted, particularly church attendance and service. We’ve thought about ways in which these changes have highlighted the crucial role of parents in shaping the spiritual development of our children.
Over break, I picked up a book that I couldn’t put down. I would like to recommend Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms to everyone raising children. In it, Justin Whitmel Earley, provides practical, gospel-focused advice on ways in which we can build habits and routines that point our households towards service to the Lord. The book is broken down into habits in waking, mealtimes, discipline, screentime, family devotions, marriage, work, play, conversation and bedtime.
In the introduction Earley writes,
Think of it like this: when it comes to spiritual formation, our households are not simply products of what we teach and say. They are much more products of what we practice and do. And usually there is a significant gap between the two.
If our hearts always followed our heads, we would not need to practice the things we learn. We’d just learn about it and the rest would follow. But that’s not how humans work, which is why the biblical understanding of sanctification is not just about education and learning but about formation and practice as well. We are tasked not only with learning the right thing, which takes concentration and thinking, but also with practicing the right things, which takes formation and repetition.
Consider habits of the household as an effort to unite education and formation. Think about them as ways to align our heads and our hearts so we don’t just know the right thing to do, we also love doing the right thing.
The book is inspiring and entertaining. The author fully acknowledges the messiness, difficulty and exhaustion that family life entails, while reminding parents of the ways in which the habits of our households are shaping our children for time and eternity.
I am so privileged to be able to greet students in the morning. Especially last year, when our morning routine involved temperature checks, I got to be pretty up close and personal with school families as students were dropped off. I witness parents actively building spiritual habits in their children. I could tell from the “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19) being played in the car, the quick prayer at drop-off, the Sunday school papers littering the back seat, and the expressions of love to start the day. It is my prayer that we can “consider how we can spur one another on to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) as we covenant together to raise our children.
The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley
Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley
The Spiritually Vibrant Home: The Power of Messy Prayers, Loud Tables and Open Doors by Don Everts
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg