by Dr. Randy Carlson, The Intentional Living Center

What does your family look like? Perhaps you’re a young couple with small children. Or maybe you have a blended family with a house full of teenagers. Possibly you are a single parent raising your kids alone. Or through unforeseen circumstances, you are now charged with raising your own grandchildren.

Families today come in all shapes and sizes. And the challenges you face are just as varied: financial and work stress. Marriage and parenting disrupted by divorce. Negative media influences. Internet predators. Drugs. Peer pressure – and the list goes on and on.

So how do you protect your family? The answer is… Jesus! When Jesus is the central focus of your family’s lives you will be able to withstand and triumph over the influences that threaten to undermine your spiritual foundations.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV).

But how do you begin to build spiritual disciplines into your family’s schedule when life’s demands seem to pull you in a hundred different directions? How do you overcome the discouragement of past failed attempts to make prayer a part of your daily routine?

Video: Ten Commandments for the Family 

Most important, how do you ensure that this goal doesn’t fall by the wayside like so many other unfulfilled good intentions?

With so many “urgent” priorities competing for your attention, it takes a deliberate commitment to bring Jesus and His Word to the forefront of your family’s activities.

It starts with you. Ask yourself: What can I do today to make Christ more prominent in my own life and in my family’s life?

Whether it’s saying grace before dinner or praying with your spouse, you need to keep it simple. Commit to one thing, and then reinforce success one day, one week, and one month at a time. Prevent “self-sabotage” by:

  • Focusing on short-term, achievable goals
  • Finding a combination of disciplines tailored to your family’s unique needs
  • Staying flexible to accommodate changes in routine
  • Accepting occasional failure as a natural part of the process

In other words, climb back on the horse! Like any other worthwhile goal you pursue in life, perseverance is key. Start small and build on your successes.

Yes, you will have setbacks. But if you miss a day, don’t give in to discouragement. Every day presents a new opportunity to get it right. Hold to realistic expectations for you and your family and to the charge of the Apostle Paul to keep moving forward:

…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV).

Allow momentum for good to build. Ten minutes each day adds up to 300 minutes a month, then 60 hours a year devoted to focusing exclusively on Christ – through prayer, devotions and Bible study.

As your family gets into the groove with daily spiritual disciplines, watch as those disciplines become habits and your kids actually look forward to spending time in God’s Word and applying it to their lives.

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