A devotional on the Titanic and women and children first

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Overcoming Family Struggles

Here’s a great resource for understanding the philosophy of “women and children first” from the Titanic. Also consider attending Vision Forum’s Titanic 100 years remembrance this April.

For dad only, a devotional about the Titanic:

Blood on Your Hands


If you were on board the Titanic, would you have jumped overboard and swam for safety, leaving your family behind? Well, of course you would not think of that. However, sometimes we men do ditch our families in other ways which are just as damaging.

Man overboard!

Paul was riding on a ship through tempest-tossed waves. Heading toward being dashed on an island, the ship’s passengers braced for the worst. About that time, the Apostle Paul noticed the sailors abandoning ship. They put the lifeboat over the front of the ship, letting it down on ropes as if they were putting down anchors (Acts 27). Paul called their bluff and the soldiers on board cut the ropes—letting the skiff fall free.

We men tend to bail out on our families when they need us most. Under pressure, we might escape to a few more hours of overtime, block out reality with the internet, run off for a weekend with the guys, or let just about anything else distract us from being there for our families. Even church activities and other forms of ministry can be lifeboats to get us out of the family storm.

Perhaps I can be a voice to a dad who had been jumping overboard and leaving his family to brave the elements without him.  The soldiers were the ones who got their passengers into this turmoil, just like many dads bring the storm into their family. If I have dragged my family into a mess, I should do all I know to get them out of it. Thanks to Paul, the ship made it to an island an no one was lost.

Blood on your hands?

Before that shipwreck, Paul spoke to the leaders in Ephesus. He told them he was innocent of the blood of any person. We dads should be able to say that about our families. Sometimes we are guilty of hurting our own. More often, dads are guilty of neglect. They do not take the time. They damage with their words.

When you stand before the Lord, will you be guilty of innocent blood because you jumped ship instead of staying close with your family?


Read this to teach the principles of “women and children first” in a family devotional:

Going Overboard

Last time Rusty and Misty went to eat ice cream and visit with their cousins.


“We are going to the lake?” Rusty asked.

“Yes,” Dad answered as they drove down the road.

“Well I had a good breakfast,” Misty said, “and I liked that motel.”

“Are Auntie and the kids on their way?” Rusty asked with a sigh.

Misty rolled her eyes at him.

“They are running a little late,” Dad explained. “But we will still have plenty of time on the water.”

“What are we renting for a boat?” Misty had to know.

“I don’t know yet,” Dad said, “I need you to pick it out with me.”

“Are they getting their own boat?” Rusty asked.

Mom turned to look at him. “No, Rusty. We are here to spend time with them. You are not getting an attitude toward them, are you?”

“No.” Rusty shrugged. “I don’t mind Jimmy so much, but Sally is like… I don’t know.”

“Let’s be loving toward them,” Mom said softly. “They have been through a lot and it is not our job to change them. Then need to know someone loves them, honey.”

“I know,” Rusty said. “I’ll try.”

When they got to the marina, they hopped out together to look at the boats for rent.

“I like those boats with the big tubey things, Misty said.

“Pontoon boats,” Mom said.

“That’s a good idea,” Dad said, walking onto the dock. The others followed him.

“We probably need a boat that big for all of us to fit anyway,” Mom said.

“Can we go fishing?” Rusty asked.

“Well, we didn’t bring anything along for fishing,” Dad explained. “Today we are just going to tour the lake and enjoy the fresh air and the wonderful view of God’s great outdoors.”

Inside the marina shop, they looked at the many fish mounted on the wall. Some were really huge and Rusty wished he had brought something to fish with.

After selecting the boat they wanted and paying for it, Dad led them out to the park area onshore where they could play until his sister and her kids came.

Misty played on the swings and slide while Rusty went down to the water’s edge to find shells. Dad walked along beside him as he searched around.

“It would be fun to swim today,” Rusty said. “I love swimming.”

“Maybe sometime,” Dad said. “But your cousins do not know how to swim. We need to do something we all can do together. Remember, Rusty, family is more important than fun.”

They walked and talked for a while until Auntie and the kids came. It took half an hour to get all the kids smeared up with sunscreen and fitted with life vests before they could load up and go. The kids could hardly sit still with excitement. In fact, the younger ones didn’t.

Dad put the boat in reverse and slowly inched away from the dock. Rusty looked over the edge and watched the water gush past the pontoons. Once they were clear of the other boats, Dad put the boat in gear and they moved forward a little faster.

“I want to drive!” Sally said.

“Okay, come here,” Dad said. She climbed up in his lap and grabbed ahold of the steering wheel. “Don’t turn, too far,” he said.

“I want to go faster,” she demanded.

“Not yet,” Dad said, “we have to get out of the no-wake zone.”

“What’s a ‘wake’?” Misty asked, sitting by Dad’s shoulder.

“It’s the rooster tail,” Rusty said.

“Yes,” Dad said, “it’s the big wave behind a boat when it is going fast.”

“Can we make one?” Misty asked.

“Sure,” Dad said. “First, let me get used to driving a boat again. It’s been a while.”

Once they were out of the no-wake zone, Dad pushed on the throttle and they started going faster.

“Wee!” Sally said. She tried jerking the steering wheel around, but Dad pulled it back steady.

After a while, Sally got tired of driving, so Jimmy wanted a turn. Then Misty got a turn. Rusty went from the front to the back to watch the water rush under and out from the boat.

Mom and Auntie talked while Dad watched the kids as he showed them around the Lake. After a while the kids wanted to fish, wanted to swim, wanted to go back to shore, or wanted to go faster.

A speed boat came zipping by and Jimmy shouted when he saw the big wave spiking up in the air behind it. “Rooster tail!” he shouted.

The sloshing of the waves rocked the boat heavily and Dad turned in toward the waves to stop the boat from rocking side-to-side.

“What’s that?” Rusty asked as they picked up speed.

“Where?” Dad asked, standing up to get a better look.

“Straight ahead,” Rusty pointed at the dark object floating just at the surface of the water.

Dad squinted to see what he was pointing at. Just then, Jimmy said, “Rooster tail!” and pushed the throttle to full speed.

The boat jerked forward and Dad fell to the deck. Rusty grabbed his hand to help him up. Dad leaped up and grabbed the wheel to turn it away from the object in the water. The boat did not turn sharply enough and hit it on the right side.

“What was it?” Rusty asked, as Dad slowed down the engine. He peered over the edge at the floating object. “It’s a broken piece of a dock or something.”

Mom was looking closely, too. “It has metal sticking out of it. Lord Jesus, help us. It’s a good thing it didn’t—”

“Oh, no!” Rusty exclaimed.

Dad looked over the edge now, too. Bubbles were coming up from the right pontoon. “We gashed the pontoon! Lord, we are going to need your help.”

“Are we going to sink?” Misty asked.

“Ladies, get your life jackets on,” Dad ordered, all the children already had them on. “Kids, get on the good side of the boat. I will try to signal for help.”

The boat was beginning to tip.

“Honey,” Mom said with a shakey voice, “we’re not going to sink, are we?”

“Okay guys,” Dad said to the kids, “you wanted to go swimming, so here’s your chance. We are all going to get in the water! Now! Honey, Sis, you two first, and I will pass you the kids.”

Mom and Auntie climbed over the left side into the water. Dad handed the baby to his sister.

“My kids don’t know how to swim,” Auntie gasped.

“We’ll be just fine,” Dad said, helping Misty overboard.

Rusty pulled off his shoes, tied the laces together and buckled his life jacket strap over them.

Jimmy climbed over and jumped in the water, too. “This is cool!” he said. “Look at the boat.”

Rusty held onto Sally. She was shaking from fear. “We are going to be all right,” he told her. They were hanging onto the rail of the boat because the deck was tipping so badly. The right side of the deck was already touching the water.

“Okay, Rusty, climb over and I will hand you Sally.”

Rusty jumped into the water and found it chillier than he thought it would be. He caught his breath and put up his arms for Sally. The life vest held him up well.

Dad lowered her into the water gently in spite of her cries of protest. She grabbed onto Rusty like a monkey.

A big splash let them know Dad was in the water now.

“Let’s swim away from the boat,” Dad said. “I don’t think the whole thing will go under, but you never know.”

He got a hold of the back of Auntie’s life jacket and said, “Hang onto the baby; I will tow you to shore.”

Mom swam over to the kids to help with Jimmy. Misty was struggling to swim and hold his hand, too. Her flip-flops floated to the surface beside her. She grabbed them and put them in her hands to paddle with.

“Hang onto my back,” Rusty told Sally. “I will swim us to shore.” He started paddling alongside Mom, Misty, and Jimmy. Dad was far ahead with Auntie and the baby. The longer Rusty swam, the farther away the shore looked. Fortunately the lake was not very big. Dad was halfway to the shore already.

“Are there sharks in this water?” Sally asked.

Rusty laughed while Mom explained. He struggled to keep paddling. It seemed like forever, but Rusty kept going and watched Dad get Auntie and the baby to shore. After a minute, Dad came swimming back out to them, faster this time. When he reached them, he checked to see if Rusty was doing okay, and he said he was fine. Dad took Jimmy on his back and swam for shore. Mom came over to help Rusty.

It seemed like hours, but a few minutes later, they were all safely on shore. It was a campground and the owners had already called for the sheriff’s patrol and the marina owner.

Dad put his arms around the family and said, “Thank the Lord we are all here safely!”


Now discuss it!

What did Rusty have to learn about the importance of family?


Do you have family members you have a hard time getting along with?


Why is family so important?


Why is it important for men and boys to take care of the womenfolk?


How have you learned to care for your family?


Read God’s Word together:

Caring for the Lord’s Lady

Standing close to Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there; so he said to his mother, “He is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “She is your mother.” From that time the disciple took her to live in his home.

(John 19:25-27, GNB)


Special supplement for this devotional:

Women and children first!

Douglas Phillips

Learn about the shipwreck that publicized the principle of women and children first when you read this article.
After reading that, share the following poem by Doug Phillips. Do not pass up the powerful principles in the message of the Titanic for putting women and children first!

Once you finish reading both of those selections, go on to the discussion on this family devotional on the Titanic.


Let’s talk about it!

What do you think about the morals behind “women and children first”? Is that how you think?


What would you have done if you were on the Titanic?


How did Jesus put His mother first even when he was dying?


To the boys: How do you put your mother first? How do you put your sisters first?


According to Proverbs 18:22, how does God feel about the women in your family? Do they have koodies? How should you feel about them?


Role play: There is only one piece of your favorite pie left and your sister wants some. What will you do?


The house is on fire and you know you should get out quickly but your sisters’ bedroom door is still closed. What will you do?


Your mom is sick and has not been able to make any breakfast for herself. What can you do?


Memorize it!

Proverbs 18:22


Whoso findeth a wife

findeth a good thing,

and obtaineth favour of the LORD.

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