Husband: Honey, I have to work later than usual tonight and Thursday night so you are going to have to find a way to get Joseph and Abbey to their commitments on those days. I don’t know is Susan has anything but check with her and see.
Wife: Honey, I also need work late on Thursday, so who can we ask to help get our kids to their commitments? I also have something I committed to on Saturday so you are going to need to get the kids to their events and figure out meals for them.
Kid #1: My friend is going to church and learning about God why don’t we do that?
Dad: Because we have so much going on we are not able to do that right now. You’ve committed to this team and you need to take responsibility and be committed to your teammates and not let them down. God understands that we are busy and that we love Him.
Kid #2: Mom, can I go to the middle school youth program every Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 6:30 – they have lots of great things going on and my friends are really excited about hanging out at church?
Mom: That sounds great, but I have to get your brother to his practice and then run to the store to pick up groceries for the week. Maybe if we don’t have anything next week we can do it.
Kid #3: Mom and Dad when are we going to go out for Pizza like you promised?
Mom: Your Dad and I will look to see when we can do that, but probably not this week because there is a lot going on.
Kid #1 &3: But that is what you said last week.
Chaos, I tell you, Chaos
Our world is spinning at such a fast pace and well intentioned parents (myself included) say yes to doing x, y and z. It’s mostly for my kids or for my work or for an organization I help out at. With all the well intentioned committments parents make where is the time for God, for Religious Education, for family time and for quiet? If you ask me it seems that the devil is pretty happy right now about the state of our busy lives. We are so busy doing “good things” that we don’t have much time for God, much time for one another, much time for silence and prayer, much time to clear our minds so that we can make sure what we want most is happening – to get our family to heaven and to do it according to how God wants us to do it.
Ok, Ok, I know what your thinking: I bet I could list 20 challenges and you are beginning with #1. Challenge #1 is key: Do you have a clear picture about what is most important and how we can accomplish this with our family? Usually the answer is no. Families often jump into the rat race becuase they want the best for their kids, they want to provide for their family and they want their kids to be involved. However, what ends up happing is that at the end of the day or more specifically the end of the year, or “the years” will we see the fruit of all we did or will we wished we’d spent a little more time and energy on other things – time with our kids, time growing in our faith, time with our spouse?
I have never heard someone say: I wish I would have spent more time on the practice field, more time at work making a little more money, more time watching the football game or “The View”. You know where I am going with this.
The World… It has sold us a bill of false goods. Our friends, extended family, surrounding influences are encouraging us to get our kids involved, that we are building character in our kids through all these activities, that working more at work will help us provide well for our families and numerous other commitments often don’t lead us to the place we hope to arrive at. The problem is we don’t know how to begin again, or change direction.
Not so fast. The solution is not singular yet it is simple. One of the most important steps is to take time to consider what is most important for your family. And doing this with the lens of faith. After all we have been created for a purpose: To know, love and serve God here on earth so we can be happy with Him forever in Heaven.
When we look back on our lives will we see the decisions we made as intentionally helping our spouse and our children not merely be a “good person” that is well respected in society, but will they be a person who desire to live for the glory of God and to serve as Christ would serve?
My friend Ryan, speaks about his intense involvement in middle and high school and how he was told that it built character and all the other things that justify the intensity of his involvement. As a parent he now says what it didn’t build character as much as “bring his character out”. He shares now how important family time is and how important helping your kids development academically. He will have his kids be involved in sports but is clear about how it is not as important as God, family and or academics. I would add helping kids interact with adults properly and have proper etiquette makes them much more successful and happy than the busyness of their childhood and not getting to see Mom and Dad enough because they were so busy “doing good things”. Also, Mom and Dad were so busy that they put aside the “best things” — faith and family until later and when later came it was too late.
How do we help families discover what is most important or put another way how do we help families realize that having their kids (and themselves) over-scheduled is not what is best for their family (and that fact that it doesn’t have to be that way)? It goes back to what I said earlier – parents struggle to stop once they have gotten on that busy schedule and the “next level” is expected of their kid and of the parents.
Families find their joy and peace most in seeking and serving God. Currently too many families are so busy that they don’t have time for this and at times don’t see the great benefit to be holy. Too many families are ok with just being “good” or “nice” person. We must continue to pray for families and encourage them one by one to seek the things that are above. This is not an easy task but with persistence and the Holy Spirit’s help we can help families create a more balanced and grounded family life. Our world desperately needs this!