The Doc File

The online journal of Luke Dockery

The Example of Charles Spurgeon (Why You are Not Too Busy to Disciple your Children at Home)

I write and speak frequently about the importance of parents intentionally working to pass on their faith to their children, because parents are the primary spiritual influences in the lives of their kids. Certainly churches and youth ministries should partner with parents and provide additional teaching and instruction in this regard, but the reality is that this should be extra: the primary spiritual training a child receives should come in the home.

That can be challenging, though, because we live in a time when everyone is busy, and extreme busyness can almost become a badge of honor. In addition to this being out of place with the biblical principle of Sabbath and the importance of rest, I think it is also problematic because it is frequently used as an excuse for why we do not do the things that we know we should. For example, Christian parents know that they should regularly read Scripture, pray, and talk about God with their children, but our lives are just so busy that these important tasks can get pushed aside by other urgent-but-significantly-less-important tasks.

But this excuse is just that: an excuse. The reality is that we can make time for the things we truly believe are important. I was reading a book a while back, and the example of the famous 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon impressed this reality upon me (the quotation below came from a footnote, but was so amazing to me that I wanted to feature it in this post):

Some may think Spurgeon lived in a much simpler era that afforded him more time to practice family worship than Christians would have today. I’ve conducted a great deal of PhD research on Spurgeon’s life and pastoral ministry, and can confirm this isn’t so. Spurgeon’s autobiography, as well as many first-hand observers, tell us that Spurgeon (1)  pastored the largest evangelical church in the world at that time (with more than six thousand active members), (2) preached almost every day, (3) edited his sermons for weekly publications, and thereby (4) produced (in the sixty-four volume Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit) the largest collection of works by any single author in English, (5) wrote an additional one hundred and twenty books (one every four months throughout his entire adult life), (6) presided over sixty-six different ministries (such as the pastors’ college he founded), (7) edited a monthly magazine (The Sword and the Trowel), (8) typically read five books each week, many of which he reviewed for his magazine, and (9) wrote with a dip pen five hundred letters per week. God gave Spurgeon an extraordinary capacity for work and productivity. And yet, despited the ceaseless, crushing demands of his schedule, at six each evening, setting aside a to-do list that few could match today, he gathered his wife, twin boys, and all other present in his home at the time for family worship.[1]

This is absolutely mind-blowing to me, and convicts me of at least two things: (1) I need to pray that God expands my capacity and increases my efficiency so I can do more work in His kingdom, and (2) if Charles Spurgeon could make time to pray and read Scripture with his children, then I certainly can as well. We all can—we just have to truly believe that it is important.


[1] Donald S. Whitney, Family Worship (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016): 73-74.

5 Comments

  1. I think the main limiter of our capacity is our constant use of technology. We miss out on more fruitful lives, both professionally and personally (family). I, for one, am trying to do better.

    • Luke

      October 22, 2019 at 6:44 PM

      Adam,

      I think that is likely true in multiple ways both in that technology can take time away from other, more important/fulfilling activities, and negatively affect our attention spans, ability to concentrate, etc.

      Have you read “The Tech Wise Family”? I found this to be a helpful resource along these lines.

  2. That’s an inspirational reminder to be intentional about our families spiritual transformation, thank you for the post. I like your prayer, “God increase my capacity of glorifying You with my life.” Reminds me of Jesus saying, “…how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” I pray that the Holy Spirit might illuminate our lives so the words, the good deeds and the energy comes increasingly to do His good will.
    God bless your day,

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