Who needs tradition?
It’s boring to do everything just like our parents and grandparents. Besides, it will make our children think that Christianity is just a bunch of empty habits, and they’ll reject it. Right? Or is creating good traditions possible?
At one point, our girls went through a period of rebelling against church attendance. And Satan certainly did his best to reinforce their rebellion. Lost shoes, people not feeling well, hair that seemed to snarl worst on Sunday mornings. General crabbiness.
Then we countered with a special tradition a pastor had suggested: a yummy, sweet breakfast only on Sundays.
Coffeecake actually helped. Who would have guessed? One friend calls it “Fighting Satan with cinnamon rolls.”
How can we choose our family’s habits—or traditions—intentionally—to establish what my friend Jeff Fisher calls “the scaffolding of our faith”? And how do we choose actions that will reinforce in us and our children our love for the Lord Jesus and his centrality in our lives?
As we think about building this spiritual scaffolding, we need to remember that scaffolding is not fun, nice-looking, or desirable in itself, only in what it allows us to build. We don’t want our children unhappy. Still, habits—even excellent habits—can be uncomfortable at times, until we grow into them.
For example, family devotions after dinner with very young children can make everyone crabby at times. As can prayer time with the entire family before the first person goes to bed, delaying bedtime. And asking a child for a prayer request each morning before school may feel pointless when a child’s daily answers sometimes hardly vary—“I don’t know. That I have a good day.”
Sharing some of our fears and inadequacies with our children and asking them to pray for us is scary.
Because we may not want them to know that we are feeling emotionally fragile that day. Or that a parent’s job is in danger. It might even seem likely to limit their trust in us as parents.
Yet God calls us to share with our children and others around us the ways he is working in our lives.
He is not terribly concerned that we might not like feeling vulnerable.
But he is concerned about our showing him as the surpassingly awesome Lord of our lives!
And he wants us to share with our children how he is answering our prayers. As we think back over ways God has grown our faith one stone at a time, we are called to be intentional in choosing our family’s traditions in ways that help grow that faith.
Creating good traditions is good for each family member.
If, like me, you grew up in a Christian household, you may have traditions that blessed you. You may have already adopted them. Or you might plan to start once life feels a little less hectic. Or you may not have spiritual traditions to choose from. No matter our history, God calls each of us to be intentional about faith with our children.
I encourage you to choose one new spiritual tradition to establish in your household.