Godly Priorities and Child Routines

Written by Paul J Bucknell on February, 19, 2021

Godly Priorities and Child Routines

Good daily routines are invaluable in raising godly children, but sometimes certain routines takes second place.

Good Daily Routines for Children

Daily routines are invaluable to the proper training of our children. I know the effort it takes to train children. It takes deliberate concentration over time. When you hear that other things might be more critical than your wisely established routines, it might sound contrary.

Daily routines are sets of pre-arranged tasks and responses for an appointed time like meals or bedtime. They give parents and children a sense of sanity and clarity, knowing what comes next in a busy day. These daily routines are not only for keeping large busy families like ours functioning (we have eight children) but for smaller families where parents can too quickly indulge or manipulate their children.

Goals and Routines

As parenting instructors, we go to great lengths to teach parents the importance of daily routines. Parents utilize routines to discern better what God wants for their families and to implement such rules in love. Child routines force parents to think for the long-term—what they want, helping them see the steps needed to reach those long-term goals.

Routines regulate cleaning, study habits, pre-bedtime hygiene, etc., but they can also instill a redeeming aspect such as when implementing biblical standards for restoring relationships and honoring parents.

When developing routines, we first must identify what we want and why. These questions encourage parents to return to God’s Word to find out what is most important. It admittedly takes a while to get to this point—connecting God’s ways with ours, but the journey is well worth it.

In the end, we want our children to see the excellence of God’s ways rather than concluding that we are merely making life easy for ourselves. Training helps parents with goal-setting, clarification of values, consistency and guiding our children in knowing what to expect, what is essential, and conforming to what they become most familiar with.

Training and Routines

Training is another word for discipleship. God’s Word offers the best life for our children. Just consider the contrast between foolish and wise children portrayed in the Book of Proverbs (e.g., immorality Proverbs 5).

Wise parents prioritize what God wants for their children. It’s faulty to consider the need for salvation while excluding the expectation of godly change (i.e., sanctification). We train them to love God’s ways, seeing that it is so much better than the world’s ways. We brought up our children in an undesirable neighborhood, one with much loud swearing and few intact families. But our children have since told us that they could easily see that our ways—God’s ways, were so much more ideal than the world’s.

We use our book, Principles & Practices of Biblical Parenting: Raising Godly Children, to show how and why we need to implement good and godly routines. When parents set up daily routines, they need to stress the necessity of setting up essential, God-honoring routines. It’s this routine that helps us know when we need to break our other routines.

Long-term planning helps us gauge our present plans.

Worship-God’s Priority

We are excited to see parents implement good routines in their families. This enables both parents and children to know what to expect and discover God’s rewards for them as they carry them out. And yes, routines demand repetition—day after day, morning after morning, week after week. Our children well remember getting up at 7 am, every school day, but they also had to get up at a particular time on Sunday to get to church by 9:00 am in a fairly awakened mood.

Since I was a church leader, often serving as pastor, Sunday mornings always demanded a well-functioning routine. We needed to make it to church on time, but my wife and I often had to prepare briefcases and be ready to teach or lead.

 

The routine started on Saturday night, considered sick children and a million other issues that the evil one used to distract us from single-hearted worship. Our Sunday worship routine worked for us despite church activities starting at 9 am and not leaving the church building until a little before 2 pm. This schedule included eating lunch at church with God’s people.

A Sunday routine differs from the rest of the week, because it follows God’s weekly worship schedule. We piled into a big van and headed for church. Everyone must evaluate their own situation. Taking a bus, picking up a few children from other homes, work conflicts, sick kids etc., all influence your routine.

Children need to grow up setting aside one day a week to rest from work; it’s a day of worship with God’s people. Some people think of sleeping in as rest (this might be a dream of parents with little ones!). Not demeaning that hope or goal, we must set aside that inclination to proclaim God’s greatness along with His people in worship every week. This significant sabbath routine puts work and survival at the footstool of living in light of God’s glory (Mat 4:4).

Questions on Sunday Routines

Parents may raise questions when we speak of this God-routine. What if children don’t want to worship God? Is it okay to let them sleep in sometimes? Does God expect all people to worship Him? Remember, ideal routines come from heaven. God fixed this command at creation.

“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:2-3).

The supreme importance of worshiping God lies behind a willingness to set aside all to obey God and give Him our full attention. It doesn’t matter how we feel or what inconveniences we may face; we go in obedience. We train our children in the importance of worship through our willingness to likewise prioritize our worship. Children notice the sacrifices we make to worship regularly, though they might verbally detest our rules. (Parents’ attitudes toward worship greatly influence the family—but that is another article!)

Is it essential for the whole family to worship God? Yes, very much so. Routines like this will shape and influence our other schedules, at least they should.

We teach our children the importance and need to meet the Lord each day on their own—even before they have come to personal faith in Christ. We instill in them the first part of worship—scheduling our presence before God. We train them in giving. Again, we know as unbelieving children that it is only a beginning, but when they come to know the Lord, these routines help them understand the importance of God’s Sunday routine.

But what if we have a late Saturday night and the children are fussy in the morning? Do we still expect them to get up and go to church? We sure do. Late Saturday nights are only one thing that can interrupt our Sunday morning routines. We face all sorts of interruptions, which Satan assists in, including genuine wakeful nights due to sickness. There are other challenges, such as discerning if a child feigns illness so he or she can avoid going to church. However, if a child has the flu or Covid, it’s wise and honoring God not to spread it to others. Stay at home.

Worship is the most important call to life, something we often need to remind ourselves of in this secular age of convenience. After this virus scare, we will need to retrain God’s people on the importance of public worship and face questions like, “If it is okay to worship God through video these past months, then is it okay to continue to worship this way?” Let’s remember to identify and maintain God’s schedule the best that we can.

We love seeing parents set up all sorts of routines. Setting a day aside imitates God’s schedule. We modified what we could watch on Saturday evenings and Sundays to foster a godly environment.

Other Conflicts with God’s Schedule

But what happens when some of our smaller routines, such as feeding and nap times, conflict with God’s schedule? This is where we came to the resolve that some routines were to take second place. Although this advice seems counter to the whole point of routines—routines demand consistency, God exemplifies His creation schedule with sabbath rest and expects it to affect man’s plans and schedules.

What helped us a lot was to think through the purpose of each routine. The point of feeding the baby is to care for him/her. Still, a higher goal is to keep the child alive so he or she can worship and serve God. Routines of feeding and sleeping are to help the parent gauge and care for their children’s needs and to present them ready to serve God. Learning or schooling routines are critical, but we must remember the larger goal-so they can better learn how to learn from God Himself.

We concluded that we always need to be ready to interrupt our schedule/routines to adjust to God’s greater schedule and purposes.

In time, we found this adjustment helped our children keep from legalism and secularism. We should allow God’s laws to break human and family laws and routines when they come in conflict with God’s. This prioritization establishes God as King on the throne.

Practically Carrying Out God’s Sunday Routine

It takes some doing to get this Sunday routine working right, but as parents seeking to raise godly children, we want our children to know we all make the necessary sacrifices to serve God rightly. Sometimes we need extra grace and strength.

Instead of complaining, we show our children how to trust Him for what we need—strength, alertness, gentleness, money, etc. As children get older, some have a harder time interrupting routines We found it better to adjust them to our ministry schedule early on, as much as possible.

When we went to small group, our children would come. But if the small group was on Thursday night, then they would have school routine in the morning. So we tried not to stay too late but also expected God would give us extra strength and stamina to keep up with our Friday routines. We could push back the Friday routine (thinking of homeschooling many children here), but often we persisted with our regular times. We have discovered that it’s our attitudes as parents that help our children follow easily along. If they find that Mom or Dad has a problem with each other or about the schedule, the children will notice and reflect that poor attitude. “Oh, do we need to go to church again?”

What about young children in church worship? We brought them. Our church had a Junior Worship program but always decided that the routine of attending the church service was more important. We did not judge the parents who brought their children to the “Junior Worship program” and were happy the church could offer this service. (We realize not all parents have trained their children for sitting in a worship service.)

There are challenges, however. For example, how do you handle a squirmy child during worship service? What if they get noisy? The difficulties that pop up are endless.

Once Mom sufficiently recovered from childbirth, we brought them to church. If the baby needed feeding during service, then Mom would go to the nursery. We adjusted. If Paul was not preaching and the children got antsy (usually persisted in making loud sounds-fake farts, laughing, crying, etc.), he would take the child to the back. He would stand and hold him or her until they could quietly return to their seats. We didn’t allow candy or treats (bribe him for silence) nor let him run around (make this a rewarding time). Nor did we bring him to junior church, assuming he couldn’t sit still. He could sit still but didn’t want to.

Paul stood and held that child in the back—as far away so that he did not disturb others. (Yes, sometimes he had to go outside.) After he or she quieted down, he quietly reminded them of the importance of worshiping God and not disturbing others. Again, he would not set the child down and be able to move about. That would defeat his purpose of making the time of disturbance somewhat desirable. He did not want to reward disobedience.

They knew the protocol; if they disobeyed us, then upon arrival home, they would face discipline in the way that we had earlier warned them. There would be no surprises; they knew this sub-routine. Linda wisely often reminded them of the church routine on the way to church. She would say: What do we do at church? What do we not do at church? They would answer: sit quietly, stand to sing. The disobedient child knew the consequences and knew of our restoration routine that followed—making everything normal and fine between us.

Conclusion

Routines help us identify and reach God’s standards for our children’s training. No matter how good they are, child training routines do not make our children Christians but aim to make their lifestyle compliant to God’s laws on the outward. We still need to maintain good relationships with them prayerfully and to share the Gospel with them appropriately.

As helpful as routines are, we must be willing to take all of our routines and consider their ultimate purpose of raising God-loving children. Due to this, we gain faith and strength from God to “interrupt” hard-fought-for routines so that we can carry out God’s sabbath and worship training. Sometimes Christian parents have imitated the world by idolizing their child and esteeming their schedules over God’s instructions. However, we have learned to uproot them from comforts and conveniences so that they can be attentive to God’s expectations for their lives. We pray that they will love the King and live for Him in His kingdom forever.

God's truth guides us in the best life possible!

Discussion Questions for Children and Routines

  1. What is a routine in this context of raising children?
  2. What are the two reasons we ought to maintain these child-raising routines? Why?
  3. What can routines not do?
  4. Why does the author say that we need, at times, to “break” our children’s training routines?
  5. Why is it important to allow God’s greater expectations to encompass our smaller routines?
  6. What child-raising routines are you familiar with, either through your experience or are now implementing?
  7. What advice would you give to parents who bring their children to worship services?
  8. How do sub-routines help children adjust to Sunday’s routine?

Other Reading Material by the Bucknells on Routines and Raising Godly Children

Paul and Linda’s book on Biblical Parenting! (for purchase)

Principles & Practices of Biblical Parenting: Raising Godly Children ...

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Setting Boundaries for Children: Biblical Parenting, Session #8

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Principles and Practices of Biblical Parenting– Raising Godly Children

....... Child Training & Routines. English || Chinese. Enable parents to understand, use and create effective routines to further their parental training.

A Case Study on Delinquent Youths - 2 Samuel 12-18

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GBF Front & Back

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Discovering the Real Barriers to Helping Your Teenagers

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Catch : Confront : Correct – The Proper Correction of Our Children

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