Justin Whitmel Earley is a lawyer, author, and speaker from Richmond, VA.
He graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in English Literature before spending four years in Shanghai, China, as a missionary. Justin got his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center and he now runs his own business law practice in Richmond, Virginia at Earley Legal Group.
His book, The Common Rule – Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, was published with InterVarsity Press in 2019. He frequently speaks at businesses and legal events on habits, technology and mental health; and at churches and conferences on habits, spiritual formation and parenting.
His second book, Habits of the Household – Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms, released with Zondervan in November of 2021. He filmed Habits of the Household Bible study, released in January 2024.
Justin also writes fiction and poetry, and is working on a children’s book. He is married to Lauren and has four sons – Whit, Asher, Coulter and Shep.
Get to know Justin in a few questions –>
Why was this study filmed in the location it was?
We filmed this study in my actual house because it just felt right. We originally looked for some Air B&B’s that would have easy set up for filming, but it didn’t seem true to the message. Habits of the Household is all about the everyday family rhythms in your actual life. That life is usually messy. So we moved a bunch of furniture around to fit the cameras and even filmed a family dinner and some scenes with the kids. It turned out to be really fun for the kids and felt really authentic at the same time. It was surprisingly meaningful filming scenes about bedtime liturgies and screentime habits in the places where God had convicted me and taught me about those things.
What is on your music playlist right now?
Lot’s of Lone Bellow. The Lone Bellow is hard to categorize. They’re southern, but started in Brooklyn. Indie rock-ish, but LOTS of three-part harmonies. Intimate story-telling lyrics, but sing-along anthems at the same time. Lauren and I have seen them a bunch of times over the past decade, and so they’re a meaningful band to us and the kids like them too. If you haven’t listened to them, you should go do that right now.
Name one of the most epic things you’ve ever done.
When I was in college I hopped a train in the middle of the night to another town. It definitely qualifies as epic. I rode through the night, slept in a field in another city, and then hitchhiked home. But it was also the absolute stupidest thing I’ve ever done and I definitely don’t recommend anyone ever try it! I laugh now, but as soon as I was riding on a coal car I realized how ridiculously dangerous it is. I now tell the story to my kids as an example of things not to do. It’s a miracle I came back alive. So fun story, but terrible idea.
Where is your favorite place outside of home?
I love the James River. It’s the river that runs through the city of Richmond, and honestly it’s a national treasure. Lauren and I love taking the boys out there on a Saturday morning. You can swim, rock-hop, fish, hike, find hidden rope swings, white-water kayak and so much more. I’m always amazed at God’s generosity when I go to the river, there is just such an abundance of beauty and it feels so much bigger than us. On a humorous note, Lauren and I always say that we like to get the boys outside because “they can’t break the outdoors.” But in all seriousness, when we all get into nature together something opens inside us and it’s one of the best kinds of family time. We’re so blessed to have the James River in the backyard of our city.
If you could only have the same meal/dessert the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is the easiest question I’ve ever been asked: rib eye steaks. I’m absolutely crazy about a good steak, really red meat in general. Once someone took me out to dinner and bet me that I couldn’t eat the 45oz bone-in tomahawk rib eye. I polished it off like an appetizer. I think I could have eaten two. (My friend tried to finish his but he got sick the next day.) I feel like I was made to eat steak. And my boys love it too, so it’s always a special family meal to make nice steaks.
What is one thing you always have with you when you travel?
My journal. Really, I have it everywhere, but when I travel it feels very important. If it’s a work trip, I know I’m going to feel scattered and pulled in a lot of different directions, so having a journal to collect my thoughts in the hotel at night is so important. If it’s family vacation, then one of my favorite things is going to be getting up before everyone else to write some thoughts and memories down. In any case, one of my absolutely favorite places to write is on a plane ride. For some reason being stuck in a seat on a plane gets my creative side going, so no headphones for me, I like to just read and write. Finally, journaling is usually how I pray. So having one with me for a good quiet time in a new place is a must.
What is your most-used emoji?
Probably the crying-face-laughing with tears emoji. (😂) With the kids, so many things that happen in life right now just seem like they merit a “can you believe this is seriously happening right now?” response. And Lauren and I often feel like we’re not sure whether to laugh or cry. I used to hate emojis. But now I actually think they’re so good for expressing tone in texts that are otherwise hard to read. So I’m often sending the laughing-crying face because I’m doing both.
FIND MEANING AND PURPOSE IN THE DAILY CHAOS OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD
Parenting happens in habits. We make meals, shuttle our kids to events, answer their questions, discipline them, and do bedtime. But did you know that even these ordinary routines can serve as extraordinary opportunities to live out God’s love in profound ways? In Habits of the Household, you will discover simple practices you can implement around your daily routines and seemingly mundane moments that will lead to a lifetime of growing closer to God—both for you and everyone in your home.
Each session includes practical examples of prayers, liturgies, and activities that you and your family can put into practice right away. As you create rhythms around your everyday routines, you will find your family has a greater sense of peace and purpose as your home becomes a place where you learn how to love each other and love God.
WATCH THE FIRST SESSION BELOW!
Justin Whitmel Earley is a writer, speaker, and lawyer. He is the author of the award-winning The Common Rule and Habits of the Household, though he spends most days running his business law practice. Through his writing and speaking, Justin empowers God’s people to thrive through life-giving habits that form them in the love of God and neighbor. He lives with his wife and four boys in Richmond, Virginia, and spends a lot of time around fires and porches with friends. You can follow him online at justinwhitmelearley.com.