I’m not Amish. The reason I write about them is because my grandfather was raised “Plain”—one of eleven children on a farm in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The home I grew up in had a flavorful Penn Dutch influence. I admire much about the Plain people, but I don’t think you have to “go Amish” to incorporate some of their principles into your life.
Being Amish is not a lifestyle. Life among the Amish has to do with faith. Faith can’t be squeezed to an hour or two on Sunday morning; it infuses their entire life like a teabag in hot water. What they do and how they do it is rooted in the spiritual question: What is pleasing to God?
The Lesson: To pray about my day’s activities and offer them to God, first, for His purposes. And then trusting interruptions (such as bumping into a chatty friend in the grocery store) or de-railings (those frustrating days when everything goes wrong) to be God-managed.
Cherish your family. A family that works together, grows together. Amish families spend a lot of time together and try to keep their work close to home. Children are valued as gifts from God, wanted and enjoyed. They’re included in all of Amish life—from barn raisings to three-hour church services. An Amish bishop once said, “We don’t prepare our children for the future, we prepare our children for eternity.”
Amish proverb: “Tomorrow’s world will be shaped by what we teach our children today.”
The Lesson: Involving children in chores and activities may not be the most convenient or efficient way to accomplish a task, but the benefits are long lasting. Look for ways to get everybody involved—cook together, sweep out the garage together, set the table together. And have fun while you’re doing it!
Draw a line in the sand. The Amish want to be good stewards of God’s resources—time, money, material goods. They know that convenience comes with a cost. They don’t want to be dependent on outside sources (such as electricity or gas!). Convenience means loss of something valuable. For example, fast food means less nutrition. More stuff means more maintenance. They’re willing to say no.
Amish proverb: “Things that steal our time are usually the easiest to do.”
The Lesson: Technology has its limits. And technology isn’t all good. Evaluate purchases more thoughtfully. Think of where a purchase or an added expense will lead your family. More time together or less? More stress or less? Reframe your view of time and money and goods as God’s resources.
The Lesson: Say less. Prayer more.
Nothing replaces face-to-face visits. Back in the day when telephones emerged on the scene, the Amish bishops made a deliberate decision to keep the telephone out of the house. They didn’t want to interrupt family life. But they drop everything for a face-to-face visit.
Amish proverb: “Use friendship as a drawing account, but don’t forget to make a deposit.”
The Lesson: Strive to make Sunday a different day than other days. A day of rest is important on so many levels—time to worship, time to reflect, time to re-energize. A re-charge your battery day.