What the Amish Can Teach Us about Family Life
- Monday, September 26, 2011
Enjoy nature and take good care of it. Just as Amish people spend lots of time outdoors in God’s creation and try their best to treat it with respect, you can spend time in nature whenever possible (from hiking to picnicking), teach your children how to take good care of it (such as by taking care of animals as pets), and model creation care for them by making environmentally responsible choices for your household (such as conserving energy and recycling).
Pray for and with each other often. The Amish follow a pattern of praying for each other as they go through each day, and also praying together during regular family prayer times. Incorporate prayer both for and with your family into each day.
Take your marriage vows seriously. When Amish people say marriage vows, they see those vows as promises made to God rather than just their spouses, so they make every effort to be faithful to those vows and rarely break them. Give your own marriage as much commitment and effort.
Discipline firmly yet gently. Hold your children accountable for their actions, and when they misbehave, discipline them. But instead of venting anger on them (such as by yelling at them), ask God to help you remain calm like Amish people strive to do when disciplining their children. The balance of accountability with gentle respect will encourage your children to learn better ways to behave.
Place your trust in God’s sovereignty. Amish people believe that God knows what’s best for them, so when situations don’t work out as they’d hoped or planned, they have faith that God is working out good purposes through those situations – even when they’re difficult to go through. Ask God to give you the faith you need to trust in His sovereignty for your family’s life together. When you catch yourself worrying, pray about your concerns and trust God to do what’s best in response.
Forgive. When people sin against them, the Amish follow God’s command to forgive with His help, and trust God to bring about justice in His own way and timing. Remember how much God has forgiven you, and let the gratitude that you feel for God’s forgiveness motivate you towards forgiveness in all of your relationships – with family members and others.
Let your children grow up. Amish people work to prepare their children for productive adult lives by giving them age-appropriate opportunities to take on new responsibilities, make their own decisions, and learn from their mistakes. Be willing to let go of your children gradually as they grow, while teaching them to work hard and think critically about the situations they encounter. Keep in mind that when you let go of your children, you invite God to take hold of them and work powerfully in their lives.
Adapted from Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life, copyright 2011 by Suzanne Woods Fisher. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, and A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of an Internet radio show called Amish Wisdom, and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California. Visit her website at: http://suzannewoodsfisher.blogspot.com/.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: firstname.lastname@example.org send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
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