Christian Home Builder - Lesson 2

The Spiritual Discipline Of Family

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can explain the difference between the active and passive spiritual disciplines.
  2. The student will be able to identify ways family living contributes to spiritual growth.
  3. The student will explore their own style of spirituality from a balanced (active and passive) standpoint.


  1. The teacher may want to reflect on his or her own experiences with the spiritual disciplines - prayer, Bible study, solitude, fasting, etc. How were they enriching to your spiritual life? How did you struggle? Has regularity been difficult for you?

  2. Discuss your observations with your class. How have they succeeded or struggled with these practices?


This lesson is designed to help the student identify ways relationships in Christian marriage and family can enrich and deepen ones personal spiritual life.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class


  1. Prayer and announcements.

  2. Review of last week's lesson.

Learning Experiences:

  1. Monastic Motherhood? 1.I have heard many young mothers complain, "I just cant' find the time for prayer and Bible study with two small children hanging on me day and night.”
    1. How do they feel and what do they assume?
      1. They feel guilty for not having a personal devotional time.
      2. They assume they are weak Christians.
      3. They assume they are not growing.
      4. They assume others are spiritual giants.
      5. They have unconsciously separated relationships in the family from spiritual growth.
    2. Are these correct assumptions or are we missing something?
  2. The Active And Passive Disciplines:
    1. Training
      1. Recently, I paid a former professional athlete to train my son and me. His routine focused on regular activity followed by rest for the major muscle groups.
      2. Perhaps spiritual growth is a balance between the active disciplines and the passive ones.
    2. Does Solitude Mean Superior? The Passive Discipline
      1. We normally think of spiritual giants as those people who get up before the sun rises, read Deuteronomy for the fifteenth time and pray without ceasing.
      2. The passive disciplines include prayer, Bible study, solitude, giving, memorization and fasting.
      3. There is ample evidence to document these are effective ways of building spirituality.
      4. "Jesus rose early and went to a quiet place to pray.” (Mark 1:35). Why?
      5. But is this the only route to spiritual growth? Do those of us who rise early to get the kids to school after a sleepless night with a spouse that snores find ourselves second class citizens?
    3. The Active Disciplines: Spiritual Growth In Relationships
      1. Family life can be a significant source of spiritual growth.
      2. Wendy Wright points out that while the passive activities are seen as a "journey” in solitude, the active disciplines are a "dwelling together.”
      3. See God's instructions in Jeremiah 29:5-6.
      4. The active disciplines can be more demanding.
      5. Defining the active without the passive maybe one sided, like training without rest.
      6. Living my faith out in front of my family, wife or children is a testament to what I believe. This is an active spiritual discipline.
      7. Have you known someone who attended church regularly, knew their Bible, could quote scripture and served as a leader but was impossible to deal with? They maybe a giant in the passive disciplines and a midget in the active ones. They do not know how to get along with other people.
  3. Spiritual Giants In Daily Routines:
    1. The teacher may want to brainstorm with the class some models of spiritual men and women that handled their relationships well.
    2. Two Examples:
      1. I have watched the lives of two relatives as they raised five children. One child has been mentally retarded since birth. Another adopted child became an outlaw and left a child for them to raise. They have seen sickness, despair, divorce and death. They lost a grandson in a tragic car accident. But through it all, they have maintained their honor, faith and sense of humor. They have served their family, community and church as leaders for decades. Their spiritual discipline "dwells” with people through the victories and the tragedies.
      2. Would you characterize yourself as an introvert or an extravert? Do you like people or solitude? The lady that was chiefly responsible for my wife and me marrying is a delightful extrovert. She has people in her home every week. She has kept innumerable college students in her home as "sons” and "daughters.” She is an apt and successful modern day matchmaker. She is a delightful teacher and oral faith historian. Her spiritual growth is bathed in relationships and those relationships have deeply affected other people.
  4. Should Joe Be An Elder?
    1. It is provocative to note that Paul instructs Timothy to evaluate a man's potential for leadership by examining his home life. (I Timothy 3:1-5) My guess is they did more than check attendance and ask if the teens were baptized and in the youth group.
    2. Paul was saying what we all know. If a person has trouble getting along with others at home, he is not going to magically change when he comes to church.
  5. What Can I Learn From The Spiritual Discipline Of Family?
    1. I can learn to see things from someone else's perspective. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
    2. I can learn to hold my tongue when I am tempted to say something harsh or cruel. (James 1:19)
    3. I can encourage a child who acts "just like I acted.”
    4. I can understand a child who is "not like me at all.” (1 Peter 3:8)
    5. I can make that bed or pick up those clothes when someone doesn't have the time. (Matthew 20:28)
    6. I can help out by running an errand when he/she forgot.
    7. I can dry a tear when bad news comes. (Romans 12:15)
    8. I can demonstrate forgiveness by saying, "Forget it, it doesn't really matter.” (Ephesians 4:32)
    9. I can give hope by saying, "You are really good at that.” (Romans 12:10)
    10. I can create possibilities by saying, "Have you ever thought about doing it this way?”
    11. I can communicate love by saying, "You are always on my mind.”


  1. In your journal, reflect on your own personal style.
    1. Are you a "passive discipline” person who needs to add some active disciplines?
    2. Are you an "active discipline” person who needs to add some passive pursuits?
    3. Do you need to work on both sides?
  2. See Christ's discussion of his personal habits in contrast to John the Baptist. (Luke 7:31-35) What were the religious leaders criticizing him about in that instance? (He was a drunkard and partied with sinners.) What was his point?
    (I am active, John was passive - and you have rejected us both! Perhaps we are not the problem.)
  3. Make a list of some small ways you can serve your parents, spouse or children by the way you live around them.
  4. Read 1 Samuel 20 in preparation for the next lesson.


  1. W. M. Wright, Sacred Dwelling: A Spirituality Of Family Life, New York, Crossroad, 1990.

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