28 Aug 2020
What is your greatest delight and satisfaction? Do your children know? Have they heard you delighting yourself in the LORD - giving voice to your heart’s greatest love through singing? Even if you can’t carry a tune, we as parents are called to model this area of our faith.
Did you know that the word “sing” appears in the scriptures over 400 times and at least 50 times as commands? But maybe you find singing uncomfortable – that’s OK. God’s not calling us to be on Britain’s Got Talent, he’s calling us to adore him. It’s been said that most of what our children learn from us is caught rather than taught. If singing around the house is common, our kids will naturally follow suit.
At church, be intentional about engaging your heart. Our children need to see that the elements of a church service aren’t merely boxes that are ticked out of duty. Worship songs are not simply didactic lessons. Yes, songs carry and convey truth, but music also allows us to express our emotion to God. As you sing, think about the words. Allow yourself to naturally express your feelings toward God on your face.
“What makes your heart sing for joy?” I once heard a pastor ask. Let’s take it a step further: what makes you put breath to that joy to give it an audible voice?
Psalm 34:1 says, “ I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (emphasis mine)
“Extol” means to “praise enthusiastically.” “At all times” means in church and outside of it, from Sunday to Saturday. Even if you don’t have a great voice. Even if you feel slightly uncomfortable. Let the truth of what you’re singing be expressed in your face and body language.
At university, I attended a campus ministry with a friend called Pat. When we sang songs of worship, Pat sang with all of his heart, even though he was tone deaf. Nevertheless, his face radiated with joy and he visibly expressed the delight he was feeling. Seeing him unashamedly engaged, even willing to look foolish, prompted me to want to know Jesus in the same way.
We can “extol” the Lord in song in our everyday family life as well, whether as part of structured times of family worship, or walking around in everyday life, as in Deuteronomy 6:7. We can seize every opportunity to model this our children with various forms of music – psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. You don’t need a music degree or stacks of hymnals. You just need a heart that adores its Saviour enough to risk looking foolish.
Here are some fun ways to incorporate singing to the Lord into everyday life:
• Devotional song
If you do structured family devotions, when discussing the passage you’ve read, ask, “Can anyone think of a church song we sing that reminds us of this?”
Then play it on Spotify or YouTube and sing along where you can.
• Compile a playlist of family favourites.
Use an app like Apple Music, Spotify or YouTube. Ask each family member to choose a few church songs they enjoy singing. Ask them why that song is meaningful to them.
As it’s playing in the house, sing along – even if it’s just a line or two that is especially meaningful to you.
Here are some of my favourite playlists:
• Car trips.
Whether on holiday or your commute with the kids to school, be intentional about including songs of worship to Christ - whether upbeat or contemplative. We once took a trip through the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and intentionally played and sang “God of Wonders” while admiring our Father’s majestic creative power on display in the misty mountains all around us. Another time, as we were driving through Custer State Park in South Dakota with its magnificent rock formations, we played and sang along to an old U.S. spiritual, “Rock in a Weary Land”, sung in a rock blues style by Ashley Cleveland. These songs can lead to great conversations centred on our faith.
• Feeling ambitious?
Write a song of thanks as a family. Compile a list of things your family is grateful for, or the attributes of our God, or struggles and pains you’re facing. Then take a familiar song tune (whether a hymn or a modern song) and re-write the lyrics using the list. (If you’re very ambitious and musically inclined you could even write a whole new tune!) Don’t worry about finding words to rhyme. It doesn’t need to be polished. It just needs to be an honest outpouring of the heart, like the Psalms.
Parents, our children can ‘catch’ our love for our Saviour as we demonstrate what worshiping God looks like, even if the sound is far from perfect. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!