Listening to the Voice of God as a Family
One of the practices of our family for years has been the practice of listening to God as a family.
Our family has acted in what many consider "radical" obedience over the course of the years. Is obedience ever radical? Probably not. It is an active choice to listen to the voice of God, and then obey. This decision comes from our security in the One whose voice we hear. It also comes from the security of knowing we CAN hear His voice, His desire to speak with us, and the understanding that we are radically loved.
Adoption of a child with down's syndrome on the verge of dying. Adoption of two more children from the same orphanage, an hour from active war in the country. Missions trips into the mountains of Honduras, and the Amazon region of Peru. Missions school on the border of the U.S and Mexico. Selling all that we have and moving to a new state to live and minister in the inner city, where racial divide still threatens.
All of these, minus the first adoption, have been done as a family. All of these were also birthed out of our family's intimate walk with Jesus.
We have taught our children since they were little that walking with Holy Spirit is part of the Christian life. As each of them have personally decided to follow Jesus, we have encouraged them to learn to hear His voice; to distinguish it from their own thoughts, or the lies of the enemy. We have taught them that they do not have a mini version of Holy Spirit, but that the same Holy Spirit that lives in their mom and dad lives in them. The very Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
With these truths in place, we tackle issues of obedience;BIG and small. If Ricky and I sense the Lord speaking to our hearts about a decision, we often include our children in a "family meeting". We have an open time to share what God has been encouraging us in, and what He has been speaking to us about. In these moments, we will challenge our children to listen to Holy Spirit alongside us in their day, specifically praying on a topic, so that we can gather and make a decision as a family. Dear friends of ours in missions school would share with us in Mexico that this was a big family practice for them as well.
When our family moved to Mississippi to work in the inner city, we were asking the Lord as a family to reveal the next step for us as a family. One evening, the Lord gave two of my children dreams. They were awake the next morning speaking about how cool it was that the dreams were so similar. When I asked them about them, I could also see the similarities. These, along with a dream the Lord had given me a few weeks before, confirmed the direction our family needed to take next.
As a family, we value listening to the Lord. As parents, we value our children's relationship with Holy Spirit. We also show our children honor in encouraging them and believing them as they share what they think Holy Spirit has put on their heart. When its right, it is usually confirmed. If they are incorrect, we have still learned to honor their effort and remind them that we are all growing in our ability to discern Holy Spirit and His leading.
In doing this, we teach our children the GREAT value of listening to the voice of God for the rest of their days. And this is something, for us, that will forever impact the way we do family.