Leading Your Family Through A Move

by Andrew Lee

Family with moving boxes in the living room

Screams echoed down to the basement as I sat on the couch for a few minutes to review some moving details. My family had moved into our rental that afternoon after two days of driving from South Carolina to Wisconsin. Things were winding down––we had just gotten back from grabbing supper as a family and our boys were getting ready for bed. In a moment of excitement, one of the boys had shut a door quickly and his younger brother had gotten his finger caught in the door. As I headed up to see what was going on, my uninjured son started to yell for help for his brother too. Within a few minutes, we left my sister-in-law with the other kids and my wife drove to the children’s hospital while I sat in the back and held my son’s hand in a towel. I spent most of our first night in Wisconsin in the ER, waiting on an excellent hand surgeon to come and sew the finger back together.

Transitions, like moving, are hard. They put a lot of pressure on our families. How can we as fathers lead our families well through the transitions God gives to us? Here are some lessons I learned as our family moved this last August.

Embrace the unexpected.

James 4:13-17 warns us against planning without acknowledging God’s right to adjust our plans. The passage doesn’t say live an unplanned life - God is orderly and planning well is part of stewardship. We are supposed to use our time wisely and do as much good as we can, but we have to keep in mind that our plans are always in submission to God’s plans. The more plans you have, the more likely something is to change. Moving requires so many plans, but we must hold those plans with an open hand.

God provides opportunities for us to grow as he changes plans. The night I was in the hospital gave me time to think about how God had led our family to Wisconsin. God used that quiet time after all the mayhem of the last few months to see how he led my family. Even as I sat wondering whether my son’s finger could be repaired, God reminded me that I could trust him. When God changes our plans, it is always good for us.

Accept help.

God hasn’t designed us to live alone. Even from the earliest pages of Scripture in the creation account, we find that God doesn’t want Adam to be alone. In the time that we live in now, God has established the church as a place for followers of Jesus to live in dependence on one another. God has gifted each believer with specific gifts to use in the church to help each other.

It’s easy as a man to feel independent. I want to try and do things on my own, but usually that is just my pride that prevents me from letting others use their skills to be a blessing to me and my family. So many people helped us pack, provided food for us, and helped us unpack and set up when we arrived. As I look back, we couldn’t have made the move without the help of so many friends.

Even if you think you have it under control, I would encourage you as a father to accept help from others. You’re giving them an opportunity to serve and your family a chance to see God’s care through the people around you. Don’t forget to thank God and the people that help you!

Maintain family rhythms.

When things get busy, it’s easy to neglect really important times as a family. Moving can be one of the busiest times of family life. You’re always going to have something else that you could be doing, but don’t neglect spending time together as a family. Prioritize spending time talking about God, reading Scripture, and praying.

I can remember several really special conversations throughout the months of moving when we spent time as a family focused on the Lord . We aren’t going to skip eating for weeks on end as we prepare for a move, and we shouldn’t stop feeding our family from the Word during that time either. Other family fun times like playing games or Saturday mornings enjoying pancakes for breakfast also provided some stability and normalcy as we spent many hours packing.

Think about what family rhythms you can maintain as you move. You don’t just do it for efficiency, but your kids (and you!) will be much more refreshed for the times of work if they have fun times to look forward to in the chaos.


This might seem simple (or impossible), but God established patterns for rest right from the first week of history. After every day comes night. God made us to sleep at night. One day out of every seven we have an opportunity to rejoice in his good gifts and worship him. Don’t cheat yourself out of these on a regular basis. There are obviously times that we stay up at night (in the ER with a child, for example), but the regular pattern should be to get enough rest so that you can function well to God’s glory.

Emphasize the good.

When we told our boys about moving to Wisconsin, we weren’t sure how they would respond. They had friends and relatives that they would be leaving behind. My wife and I decided that the best way to tell them was to focus on the snow that they could enjoy in Wisconsin. They were so excited about moving! Of course, there were hard goodbyes along the way, but throughout the whole move they talked about looking forward to playing in the snow soon.

Philippians 4:8 calls us to focus our thinking on things that are worthy of praise. This isn’t simply positive thinking, but rather a focus on what has eternal value. The snow is a bit of a humorous example, but when we focus on what is true about God in uncertain times, the result found in verse 9 is that the God of peace will be with us. Peace is not the first thing you might think of when describing a move, but God promises something better than a feeling. He promises his presence.

My son’s finger healed beautifully and we love our new church family and Wisconsin. As I think back on these lessons learned in a time of transition, I realize that they’re always important as I lead my family. Moving just provided extra pressure that revealed their significance. I certainly did not lead in these areas perfectly, but I’m thankful for God’s grace through Jesus to offer forgiveness and the chance to continue growing. I hope you are able to lead your family well through whatever transitions God puts in your future.

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