As a child, my bedroom was across the hall from my dad's office. I always left my door open because I was scared of the dark and I always loved it when I would wake up early, before it was time to get out of bed, and see the light on in his office. It signaled two things for me: 1) that the morning was about to chase away the darkness and 2) that my dad was up reading his Bible and praying for our family. Every morning at 5:00 he could be found in that same spot, reading his Bible and praying. It was the pattern of life that I knew, the tradition of my father that shaped the way I revered God's Word and wanted to know it for myself.
What is a Tradition?
As we've prayed through how we could encourage families in 2017, the Lord led us to call families to consider their traditions, because traditions transform us. We've said that a tradition can be defined as something you always do that transforms who you are or are becoming.
3 Types of Traditions
Think about it. Your childhood shaped you and what shaped you the most were the patterns or traditions that were modeled for you daily, monthly, yearly or in significant moments. Yes, traditions are how you celebrate holidays or birthdays, but it's also what you do around a meal or at bedtime each and every day. All of these patterns of life shape what we value, who we value and why we value those things or people.
There are 3 types of "Transforming Traditions":
- Ordinary: What you "always do" in the ordinary, day-to-day rhythms of life.
- Extraordinary: What you "always do" on special occasions (i.e. holidays, birthdays, summertime, etc.)
- Out-Of-The-Ordinary: What you do to recognize or celebrate special moments in the life of family members (i.e. birth of a child, starting Kindergarten, baptism, 13th birthday, graduation, etc.)
The Commandments of God vs. the Traditions of Man
In Mark 7, Jesus issued a word of warning about the impact of our traditions. The Pharisees had noticed that Jesus and His disciples had not washed their hands according to the tradition of the elders and had asked Jesus why they were not following these age old traditions. Jesus rebukes them and issues this stunning statement in Mark 7:9, saying, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!"
This statement should serve as a measuring stick for us as we consider the traditions of our home. Are our traditions leading us and our kids to follow the greatest commandment to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) or are they leading us away from Him? To put it another way, how can we transform our traditions so that the traditions that are transforming our families are transforming us into the image of our Savior?
Reclaiming the Ordinary
To start with, let's focus on the ordinary traditions that transform us. As was mentioned, Deuteronomy 6 commands us to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and then tells us to teach our children to do the same, talking about it "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up." Every day, the Lord gives us as parents at least 4 times of day where we have an opportunity to pass on traditions to the next generation to grow their love for Him: Meal Time; Drive TIme; Bed Time; and Morning Time.
Reggie Joiner and our friends at Orange have put this helpful chart together that shows how these 4 unique times play out in our world today and the role we can play as parents in each one of those. The Watermark Kids team wants to challenge you all this year to RECLAIM THE ORDINARY by establishing or continuing traditions that draw your family towards a greater love for God and for others, so that we might not be guilty of "rejecting the commandments of God in order to establish your tradition!"
Have a B.A.L.L.
Our team wants to equip and empower your family to "Be About Life's Lessons" or have a B.A.L.L. This is a simple question you can ask one another to remind you to be intentional and purposeful with these 4 key times of day. "Is our family having a B.A.L.L.?"
To go with this, we've created a simple resource for you to use at your dinner table. Take this set of questions, cut each one out and place it in a mason jar that you sit on the center of your table (we've even included blank spots for your family to write original questions). Each time your family sits down for dinner, take a question out and talk about it as a family. You might even consider buying a "Ball Mason Jar" to remind your family to have a B.A.L.L.
In addition, we asked some key families, staff and elders for their best ideas they've implemented in their family. Here are 20 Transforming Traditions to Reclaim the Ordinary. Consider implementing one or two more of these as a family and/or leave a comment below with traditions your family already does that might be an encouragement to others.
Traditions that Transform
Our hope and prayer for the families of Watermark is that we might be about the greatest commandments of God, to love Him and love others, and pass these traditions on to the generations to come. These are the traditions that will transform us, our families, our church, our country and our world for the glory of God and the good of all people.