Intentional Ceremonies & Traditions

So far in this series we have talked about why we need to be intentional and then how we are to intentionally disciple our kids.  The next topic we will cover will be developing intentional ceremonies and traditions with our kids.  I have a couple of guests that I want to interview who were not able to talk this week so, part 3 will be done in 2 entries.  The second entry will be a podcast containing those interviews.

About ten years ago I ran across a book by Robert Lewis entitled Raising a Modern Day Knight.  That book had a tremendous impact on me and has helped me to develop some simple ceremonies and traditions with my own kids.  One result of that experience that I want to share with you has been an annual camping trip that I take with my two boys along with my Dad, my brother and my nephew.  In two weeks we will leave for our 8th annual Martin Men’s Camping Trip.  This annual event has become the most protected and cherished entry on my calendar every year as well as for my boys.  They have told me over and over again that this is their favorite weekend of the year.

Let me begin by telling you how simple this weekend is.  I spend about 4 hours a year planning this event.  I start by picking a convenient location (typically a State Park in either Arkansas or Oklahoma) somewhere in the middle of where we live and where my Dad and brother live.  We then plan 5 easy meals that can be prepared at a campsite.  Believe me, we don’t come back for the food!  My brother, my Dad and I then prepare a short devotional to have at the end of our 2 dinners and our big breakfast before breaking camp on Sunday morning.  The rest of the time is spent enjoying each others company and doing what guys do the rest of the time.

We have picked some significant benchmarks in each of our son’s lives to celebrate through the years.  Last year, for example, we celebrated my oldest son’s 18th birthday (his actual birthday is in July but we wouldn’t be together for that day).  Part of that celebration was calling him to manhood.  We each took a few minutes to point out things in him we saw that God had gifted him with and then how we saw God using those gifts throughout his life.  We wanted to mark a time in his life when he became a man.  A big part of becoming a man is living into who God has made us to be.  I also had several friends of mine who have watched him grow up write letters to him doing the same thing.  To this day, those letters are sitting on his nightstand and I see him reading those periodically.

My nephew, who is now 22 years old and married, was the recipient of that same ceremony 5 years ago.  That event had a huge impact on him.  It also had a huge impact on my two boys who were 13 and 9 year old at that time and witnessed what we were calling their older cousin to.  They looked forward to when they would have the same calling placed on them.  This tradition in our family will hopefully never be extinguished.  My older son said the other day that he looks forward to doing this with his sons one day.

I don’t mean to make this all about Dads and their sons.  This is also important for Moms and Daughters, Moms and sons and Dads and daughters.  Finding an opportunity to have some fun, share some stories and memories and giving our kids the blessing of a calling or initiation into adulthood is the goal.  This does not have to be an elaborate exercise.  In fact, I think the more simple it is, the more likely we are to continue it.

So, what are some ceremonies or traditions that you have instituted in your home?  Share those with us so we can all get ideas on things to do with our kids.

Check back for some interesting interviews on this topic in the next week.