Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Crazy Busy, Day 4

Leslie Basham: Kevin DeYoung offers some advice for parents who demand a standard of their children that they don’t live themselves.

Kevin DeYoung: The easiest way—the best way—to produce Pharisees is to be a Pharisee . . . to be a parent with this hypocrisy, or with this huge gap between what you say and insist upon and what you actually do in your life.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Thursday, November 17, 2016.

Ask anyone how they’re doing and you’ll likely hear, “Busy!” Pastor Kevin DeYoung talked about our level of busyness earlier this week. He’s been talking with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth this week about his book Crazy Busy. Yesterday, we got Kevin’s wife Trisha into the conversation. She’s a busy mom of a young family, and I know her perspective was helpful. Kevin and Trisha talked about the value of family devotions even during busy seasons of life.

We stopped partway through that conversation yesterday, and today we’ll hear part two. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: So, Trisha, what are some of the ways practically, in the course of your life as a mom, that you’re trying to cultivate an environment that is conducive to your children growing spiritually, learning to love the Lord, growing up in grace?

If we were to come and visit your house, apart from the chaos—we’ve talked about that—what are some of the things we might see you and Kevin doing to try and cultivate that atmosphere of grace?

Trisha DeYoung: The simplest is just to read the Bible. There are a lot of good story Bibles, too.

Nancy: So how do you guys do that? You’ve got kids ten, eight, six, four, two, and newborn. What does it look like for you guys?

Trisha: I just bought a new storybook Bible so I could have some fresh material. We’ve done The Jesus Storybook Bible, and we’ve got another one—The Big Picture. We read in the evening time, right before bed is a nice time. It’s also nice that the three older kids are in school, so there are times in the day when I have just two of them (and in January we’ll have three). I can read to them alone. It’s nice that there are some readers in the family, too, and they can read to the younger siblings.

Nancy: Do you try to get everybody together at some point during the day to be in the Word as a family? How does that look for you?

Trisha: I think typically, it’s after a meal. Especially when Kevin’s around, he’ll lead it. When he’s traveling, it’s easy for me to think, Okay, break from dinner. Go ahead and clear your plates and let me get some of that. But before bed—that’s the ideal time.

Kevin: We have done some of that before in the morning, but more recently, we do it after dinner. We’ve tried everything. I think what really weighed me down at first, in leading devotions for us as a couple, was feeling like I wanted to try to do everything.

“Okay, we’re going to sing one hymn, and we’re going to memorize one verse, and we’re going to read something from a catechism, and we’re going to read one story, and we’re going to pray for one country from Operation World." It just became too much, so we simplified it. 

Sometimes now it’s reading a devotional, sometimes we’re singing a song, sometimes we’re taking prayer requests, sometimes we watch a little video app that does some lessons. We just find the important thing is to be in that habit of, “Here we are; we’re going to talk about things.”

Now that the kids are older, they can share a little bit more. They can get into it; they can answer it. I would hope that anybody listening doesn’t underestimate the significance of simply being a mom or dad who loves your kids, and your kids know that you love them. The reason I say that is, when I went to college and went to a kind of middle-of-the-road Christian college and started to hear some things that I didn’t think were quite right, didn’t seem to be right theologically . . .

Or when I was going to a public school and there were people into stuff I knew I shouldn’t be in, I think, Why didn’t I go down some of those paths? (And people do sometimes, and the Lord brings them back.) As best as I can figure, it was because I always valued more what my parents thought than what my peers did.

It wasn’t any one thing that my parents did, but it was the sense that I knew they loved me, that they cared for me, that they loved each other. That was normal. So sometimes it’s not the list of things we can do, but simply to give your children the sense that the “normal” that they see is a mom and dad that love each other, a mom and dad that are reading the Bible to me, a mom and dad that take me to church.

Don’t underestimate the significance that that has, day after day, year after year. When these other temptations come—to kind of reset back to—“I’m tempted here, but I know that Mom really cares for me.” Was she perfect? No, but I know without a doubt she loved me and did her best.

And that, by the Lord’s grace, can pay huge dividends. That’s what we trust in—that they know the Lord loves them, and they know Mom and Dad love them, too.

Nancy: And it sounds like, with your parents, you wanted to please them, but it wasn’t a fear of wrath or judgment, but a sense that this was something to be desired.

Kevin: In a good way, I think both of us didn’t want to disappoint our parents. Yet, that can be a kind of slavish, “I’ve got mommy or daddy issues,” kind of thing. But it was just that I knew who they were; we read a chapter of the Bible most days after dinner, and we slowly made our way through the whole Bible growing up. And just that respect, which as a teenager you’d never think to say to your parents.

But the little things Mom and Dad would say to me at times that would put a little bug in my ear, that later I would have to think of that. To use the analogy: parents are like evangelists. We put a little pebble in somebody’s shoe. When you share the gospel, you “put a little pebble in their shoe,” so that later on during the day . . . They don’t give their life to Christ right then, but they can’t sit still.

As parents, the little things we say, the little questions we ask . . . I remember being so rude to my parents and to my mom and saying, “Why do you have to ask me all these questions?” But there was a part of me where it really communicated care, and I thought, I don’t want to answer your questions, and yet I want you to ask them, because I want to know.

So I hope anybody listening—even when you don’t get the responses you want, and even when you don’t get any response . . .

Nancy: I was going to ask you about these family devotions, which is more something of a bygone era, sadl. When we grew up, my parents tried to have some kind of semblance of family devotions, but with a lot of children it was chaos . . . just crazy! I’m so thankful they kept at it. It was more consistent in some eras than others, but when you’re sitting down with those five little ones—and some of them have awfully short attention spans—does it feel like failure to you if they’re not all sitting with their hands folded, soaking it all in?

Trisha: It feels less than ideal, but I think we feel like, well, we know that the toddler might be kind of teary after she gets scolded a little bit. She'll need to be in Mom’s lap so she’ll be able to sit a little longer. We kind of feel like we’ve gotten use to the expectation of “these ones might sit better; these ones might not.”

Kevin: It’s not the calm serenity we would hope for; not like, “Yes, pastor Father, please tell us another lesson.” It’s sometimes, “Are we done yet?” and scooting around. But every once in a while in the midst of the chaos, you get a little nugget of, “Oh, he’s really listening,” or “That prayer that she just gave—that really seems like it was from her heart,” or “They’re picking up the things that we value,” or "They just prayed for their friend to come to know Jesus," or something.

So, we’re the poster family for kids on the table: “Sit down, get down, finish your food . . .” Yet I would encourage you to just press on. You miss a few days, keep pressing on. You don’t do it for two weeks, just press on; not as a means of earning your favor or determining your kids, but just showing thankfulness and the importance of being in God’s Word.

Over time, at least we’ve found, it’s been fits and starts, on again, off again, but it’s slowly gotten more consistent and a little easier and a little more fruitful.

Nancy: As I think back on my own upbringing in this area, I do think it’s not so much that family devotions was this great highlight of our day or lives, as much as that the take-away was, “The Word and the Lord matter to our parents, and they want it to matter in our family.”

This wasn’t highly regimented, and I’m sure we made it feel much less than ideal for our parents, but it was that the sum total take-away was, “This is a priority. Our lives, our family are built around the Lord.” It wasn’t something you’d really write a book about, how well it went. But I look back and I say it was a really positive long-haul. And that’s the other thing you said, Kevin, you’ve got to take the long view, don’t you, with parenting?

It’s not just about this moment—and with life, with our own sanctification—it’s not just about this momentary slice of life, but it’s about the trajectory and the process of what God is doing over time. So if you want immediate results—immediate satisfaction and gratification—you’re not going to get it in parenting, are you?

Trisha: No, and Kevin has had to encourage me. I get discouraged about certain patterns in my kids’ lives, or certain attitudes they pick up or behaviors. It’s just helpful to say to remember God’s faithfulness in our kids, “Oh, he used to have this particular issue, and the Lord has brought him out of that, and now we see so many different layers of his heart.”

Kids are humans. They’re complex, as we are, and it’s good to see God’s faithfulness. It’s good to say, “We’re in a hard spot, and I’m going to have to ask the Lord for help, to go the long road.”

Kevin: I think it’s tempting for Christian parents to figure the most important things I have to give my kids are skills or knowledge. We want to do both. But you just hit upon perhaps the most important thing we give them are the habits. However they’re schooled, if somehow they missed out on the story of Samson or something, or they don’t know all that, they can get alone and read a book and learn it.

But it’s those habits that they’re forming. Habits of going to church every Sunday. Of knowing that this is a family in the midst of all our failings, they at least see Mom and Dad know that the Word of God is important. It’s all of those things that become second nature to our kids. It's what is shaping what normalcy is—a sort of counter-cultural Christian environment, however weak and feeble we are. This can make the biggest impact—even when there are gaps in what their abilities are and what they’re doing, and about a whole list of things. Those things tend to stick with kids more than we realize.

Nancy: So with the habits—let me prod you a little here—how do you then avoid just raising twenty-first century Pharisees? A child who knows right, does right, doesn’t act out. How can we raise kids who have hearts that are really inclined to the Lord? It’s not just about getting them in church. I think it’s not less than those habits. But how are you praying or thinking about this? I know that parents can’t do this for their kids. How are you processing that?

Trisha: Well, I don’t know if this answers your question specifically. I do think there’s the gift of your interest in your kids—and asking them questions. I just think there is tons of material that comes out from the everyday things. For example, our first grade girl has already when I pick out a certain outfit, “I don’t want to wear this outfit because I think other kids will make fun of me.”

I think, Already we’re seeing the glimpses of somebody who’s looking to others and trying to please, and get good attention that she wants. I also think, This is spiritual issue, and I can talk about it with my first grader.

Do I do a flawless job? That’s an area I want to grow in. I wish I always had Scripture at the forefront of my mind. But I think there are issues with sibling rivalry, lots of quarreling—which we have in our house—that gives us fodder for saying, “This is where we need help. This is where the Bible shows us the best way and the only way, through Christ.”

Nancy: What I love about that is Christianity is not a category of your lives. It's not something that you do on Sundays or in family devotions, but Christ is your life. And even with a houseful and all that’s going on with that, it sounds like you’re tuned and sensitive and alert to opportunities to just talk about a world view that is biblical and grace-filled and Christ-like.

Trisha: And there are lots of opportunities that we miss in the hustle and bustle.

Kevin: You ask the “why” question—“Why did you do that?” We try to ask questions that put them in somebody else’s shoes—“How do you think that made them feel? How would you like it if that happened to you?” The easiest way, the best way, to produce Pharisees is to be a Pharisee—to be a parent with this hypocrisy, or with this huge gap between what you say and insist upon and what you actually do in your life.

That’s the biggest thing. If our kids see that Mom and Dad are Pharisees, well then, that’s what Christianity is. Christianity equals a bunch of rules that seem arbitrary, that we don’t really live up to and don’t have to do. If they see some brokenness, then they see, hopefully, a gospel kind grace.

So if they see Mom and Dad asking for forgiveness from each other, and to them, and hopefully cultivating these heart conversations (and I can’t emphasize that enough, and we’re still growing in it) to talk to our kids: 

Not just:

  • Do this. 
  • Don’t do that. 
  • That was wrong.
  • Here are the consequences.
  • Here is the discipline. 

But instead:

  • What’s going on? 
  • Why do you want to do that?
  • What was going on right there?
  • What were you desiring?
  • Why is that happening?
  • Why is it  important to you?

Going back to what Tricia said . . . When I was talking to our six-year-old sweet princess girl when we’re getting ready, and it’s really busy, and she said, “I don’t want to wear that, because if I wear those pants kids will make fun of me.” The first thing I said was, “No they won’t! Get the pants on!”

Then I thought, and said, “But more importantly, that isn’t what really matters. We shouldn’t be living our lives concerned about what other people will think about the color of our jeans, because that’s not who we are. That’s not what really matters to God.”

Now did that lead to some great spiritual awakening at that moment? No. It was, “Okay,” and we moved on to the next things, but hopefully, over time . . .

Nancy: It’s line upon line, precept upon precept, moment upon moment. I’ve seen the joy with some of my friends' kids' kids now—the little ones. When you start to see the light go on and the Spirit drawing them and making them sensitive, then their parents and I stand back and say, “Yes. Yes! God is doing it! Thank you, Lord." He’s doing it in the parents; He’s doing it in the kids.

And then there are some of those days with those kids when some of those moms are pulling their hair and saying, “Nothing is catching! Nothing!” And that’s a lie of the enemy too. He wants to discourage and defeat parents.

Trisha: Yes, it’s easy to feel discouraged in the small gains. It feels like, “Oh, we’ve had setback upon setback.”

Nancy: Let me ask, Trisha, because I know a lot of moms wonder. (I’m not holding you up as a paragon of virtue on this, but Kevin talks about this in this book.) I think one of the most important chapters is the one thing that matters most, whether you’re a mom or dad or single or any season of life, is that you are seeking the Lord first in your life. That is the number one priority.

It’s Jesus saying to Martha there in Luke 10, “You are stressed about so many things—hot and bothered. They are good things, but the one thing that matters most you’ve missed, which is knowing Christ, seeking Him.” And we know that passage; it makes us feel guilty sometimes. We think, I’m running around like this crazy Martha. I want to have Martha’s hands but a Mary’s heart. We know the story.

But with your houseful of kids, married to a busy husband, and lots going on in your church—serving the Lord in various ways, how do you keep your own heart tender, tethered to the Lord? What are some of the practices you are trying to engage in along that line?

Trisha: That’s a great question. I don’t feel that I’m sitting at the top and have got it all figured out, because I often think, Quiet times?! The times when my two youngest are napping, it’s very easy to take a nap and rest physically.

Nancy: Which may be exactly what you need.

Trisha: But I don’t want to go through so many motions of, “Get everybody ready, get everybody in bed, do the chores of the household,” and neglect my soul. So I feel like I’m struggling to maintain habits of reading. I certainly feel that it’s God’s faithfulness to me, that He shows me my needs. So I often can come at the end of the day and say, “I’m discouraged, Lord, by what’s undone, or the way I did do the things I did. I need Your forgiveness, and I need Your help for another day.” I definitely feel the Lord has been faithful to show me my need.

Nancy: Nothing births prayer like desperation, right?

Trisha: Yes! And so it’s a season where I feel like time in the Word is not as long as I would aspire to.

Nancy: We were talking about a mutual friend who also has a bunch of children, and she was saying to me one day, “I feel like I was more spiritual when I was single!”

And I said, “You know what, I can see why you would feel that way, but God has you in a place now as a wife and mom of multiple children where you need Him in different ways than you did when you were single. You may be actually making more progress in grace and in growth than you were when you had much more control of you own schedule when you were clocking in at the office and you had more routine hours.”

There’s no such thing as routine hours for a mom, right? But in the midst of that there’s grace. And God is using those children and those circumstances and that environment to make you conscious that you need Him.

Trisha: It does make me thankful. I have a bi-weekly Bible study with some moms from the public school, and then one with women in church. Now, I have these books I’m reading—one where we’re just studying the Bible, and another one where we’re doing a theological book. So I’m thankful for these things where they’ve set aside childcare and given me these times to meet with other women and talk about the Scripture, talk about our lives, share prayer requests, and to talk with other women. Those are key.

Nancy: So you’re not alone.

Kevin: We can often think about that Mary/Martha passage and think about our private devotions, and that’s certainly key and we need that, but there’s a whole corporate dimension that we can’t overlook. Sometimes those corporate dimensions have built-in accountability that we really need.

I’ve got a Bible study this morning, and I need to go, and here’s a chapter and I need to read it. Here’s the small group, here’s the book of the Bible, we’re reading through the Psalms, we’re going to do it. These things count. Sometimes we can think, Well, I’m not really doing anything . . . No.

All of these are ways of getting the Word into our soul. It’s not to the exclusion of personal quiet, just you and the Lord, but all of these things hopefully have a cumulative effect. During some of these seasons where you’re praying for a few minutes at night and you’re trying to stay awake, or in the morning you’re trying to get up—we need to know that the Lord gives grace for that. We want to keep striving for the “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord,” (Heb. 12:14), and also realize that the Lord is at work within us, "to do according to His good pleasure and His good purpose."

Tricia: One particular thing that some other women had encouraged me in is that it’s a good thing to put on music while you are washing your dishes that is praise music or that has Scripture in it. That is so refreshing to the soul. And I can still fold my laundry and help the toddler that fell and scraped and needs a Band-Aid.

Those things feed my soul in ways where I’m not sitting down and just reading.

Nancy: God is so kind to give us multiple means of grace, and you’ve talked about several of those. Some of those are personal, and some of those are within the context of your marriage as you seek the Lord together. I’m so glad you mentioned this corporate dimension. That says we can’t do this alone. Spiritual growth is a group matter—it’s a corporate matter—we need each other.

I’m in a season of life now where I’m able to be an encourager. I would say this word to older women. I have a lot of young mom friends in my life. I was at dinner with one of those families the other day, and this mom is expecting her fourth, and she’s trying to homeschool her kids, and she is stressed and doesn’t feel as if she’s doing a good job, and is comparing herself to others.

It wasn’t as if it was, “Woe is me!” She’s a great gal, but she was just barely breathing. I was able to come alongside and say, “You’re doing okay. The Lord loves you.” I shared with her I’ve been going to the gym, and my trainer keeps saying, “Calm down and breathe. Calm down and breathe.” You can’t be at the high-pitched fever level all the time.

So just to say, “The Lord loves you; the Lord loves those kids more than you ever could. There’s beauty there that you can’t see,” and to come alongside to encourage, to pray. I got an email yesterday from the husband of another young mom I’ve been trying to encourage, and she’s also expecting. It seems like that pregnant mom season can be a tough one. 

He said, “Thank you for encouraging my wife with your presence, your conversation, with an article you sent her that gave her a fresh perspective on why she’s doing what she’s doing.” There are so many different ways that others in the body of Christ can come around these young moms and be an encouragement and pray for them. Sometimes it is just give them a couple of hours where they can get off and do something they need to do . . . the gift of time. You could help out with the kids or with the house.

As I’m listening to you, as a young family, I’m challenged to say to myself, “Okay, what are ways that those of us in the body who aren’t in that season can not just let you guys fend for yourselves, but come alongside and say, 'How can we serve? How can we bless?'” 

Leslie: Those are some very helpful questions from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. She’s been talking with Kevin and Tricia DeYoung about investing in your children, even during busy seasons of life. Our guest, Kevin, has written a book called Crazy Busy. He’ll help you think through your priorities, slow the schedule down if needed, and find peace in the Lord when you can’t get as much done as you’d like.

We’ve been making a special offer this week, and today’s the final day we’re letting you know about it. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’ll say thanks by sending you a copy of Crazy Busy. Ask for the book when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Your gift will help Revive Our Hearts continue bringing you the program every Monday–Friday. And your support will also allow us to continue offering resources, books, and live events that call women to greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

As a pastor, Kevin DeYoung sees the value of this ministry.

Kevin: I’m very thankful for Revive Our Hearts’ ministry. We have women in our church who have read the books and listened to the podcasts and the stuff that goes on on the Internet and have gone to the True Woman Conference. It is so refreshing to find something that is directed for women, but it’s deeply rooted in the Word. It’s deeply spiritual in the best sense.

It’s really getting at the issues of the heart, sympathetic toward the things maybe women wrestle with, but also challenging them in a good way, and all the while doing it from a solid theological background. So when I hear that women in our church are into these things and following this ministry, I’m grateful.

As a pastor, I’ve been very grateful for the women in our church who have made the trek to the True Woman Conference. There’s just something about that environment, with thousands of women to be singing and have that environment kind of tailored just for you. They’ve been encouraged as wives or mothers or singles (we have lots of college students at our church).

Whatever season they’re in, there’s something in the ministry and at the conference that’s been helpful for them. 

Leslie: When you think about where our world is headed, are you ever tempted to fear? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will take you to the book of Proverbs and show you the portrait of a woman who doesn't fear the future. She'll give you practical advise on how to choose faith in God over fear—even in tumultuous times.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.