The Bible says nothing about date nights, the Billy Graham Rule, sleep training, and so on. Don’t hold strongly to what the Bible holds loosely (or vice versa). And that includes pretty much everything I’ve included in this article.
Not every idea is worthy of an entire article. Hence, this one contain a long list of brief, random (and unsolicited) pieces of advice for living the Christian life, most of which I’ve gleaned from others over the course of the past 45 years. I hope there is something here that benefits you.
When offering counsel to others, always carefully distinguish between what the Bible says and what is simply your best attempt to apply wisdom to a particular situation. Get used to saying, “This is me, not the Bible.” There is a reason I have made this the first in a long list of pieces of advice.
Learn to appreciate the ways in which other people are different from you, not just the ways in which they are similar. Contrary to the way you tend to the think, the world would actually not be a better place if everyone was just a little bit more like you.
Learn to apologize. Learn to apologize first. Learn to apologize often. Learn that to apologize is a mark of strength of character, not weakness.
Remember that your children are sinners who are beset by the fierce enemies of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Be gentle with them and have pity for them. Don’t be yet another enemy to them.
Don’t let yourself slip into believing that growing older will magically confer you some gift of godliness. Who you are now—or who you are becoming now—is a pretty good predictor of who you will someday be. If you want to be godly then, you have to learn to be godly now. This is true of young men and women as they ponder marriage and parenting; this is true of middle-aged men and women as they ponder retirement and old age.
Understand that you don’t need to have an opinion about everyone and everything. In fact, it is a mark of maturity to deliberately not have opinions about things that don’t concern you and things you know nothing about.
Find a couple whose grown children you’d be proud to call your own. Ask that couple if you can spend some time with them to either ask them questions about parenting or to simply observe life in their home. This may prove more valuable than any book on parenting. (Make sure their children are old enough that the parents have proven they can do more than raise obedient toddlers or submissive tweens.)
Change churches as seldom as possible and only when necessary. Never change churches without seeking the counsel of the church you are considering leaving and the church you are considering joining. When you do leave, it is almost always best to leave in a quiet and dignified way that preserves the church’s unity.
You get no free pass from the sin of slander when it pertains to an enemy, a heretic, or a politician. Each of these people is made in the image of God and each of them deserves to be spoken of in a way that befits their humanity. Only ever speak of them what is demonstrably and provably true.
Try raising your hands in worship at least once. It’s okay to get used to the idea in private first. Perhaps you’ll find that a little bit of physical expression engages your heart in unexpected ways.
Don’t put your hope in a particular method or system of parenting. Put your hope in the gospel, then consistently teach it to your children and consistently model it for your children during the 18 or 20 years they are in your home. It is the gospel that is the power of God, not any method. But we are easily confused.
In any given situation, it’s always good to ask “What does the Bible tell me to do?” or “what does the Bible say about this?” A great follow-up question is “why am I not already doing it?”
When the church service ends, make it your goal to meet someone you don’t know or connect with someone you don’t know well before you spend time with friends. Make a beeline for anyone who is alone or who looks awkward.