Is Your Family In Danger?
I grew up in a home with 5 children. By the time I was in middle school, our family was stretched a mile wide and an inch deep. Between me being involved with music, my brother’s varsity soccer, my sister’s dance recitals—time together as a family became a rarity. This reached a culmination for me when I watched my oldest brother drive away for college and I thought to myself, I will never live with him again. I’ll have to admit, that was an odd pill to swallow!
I am sure that many of you can relate to this. The sad truth is that many of our families today are simply too busy to spend time with one another. Now before you quit reading let me say this: this is not a post shaming you over the amount of activities your kids are involved in. However, have you and your spouse discussed reasonable limits on what you say “yes” to? In other words, are you just too busy?
As a youth pastor, I could give you a handful of examples of students within the last year who claimed to me that the number one thing preventing them from a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus was not some hidden sin—but rather being too busy. In light of this, I would propose to you that the largest lurking dangers to your students and your family are not political elections, cultural shiftings, or traditional redefinitions of family and marriage—but our own busyness.
How do you know if you’re falling into this? A simple question to ask yourself would be: when was the last time our whole family sat around our kitchen table to share a meal together? Let me explain here: not a meal in the car on the way to practice, but a meal with no phones, no T.V. on in the background, no iPads—just plates, forks, and genuine conversation. Even further, is a shared meal between your whole family the norm, or the exception? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, you may be too busy. If you want additional support, simply Google “eating shared meals together as a family” and easily spend an hour bathing in statistical evidence for the importance of eating together.
Hear me out—football, soccer, choir, band, piano lessons, dance—these things are not evil in and of themselves. But remember that Satan is referred to a prowling lion (1 Pet. 5:8). Lions are sneaky and prey on those least suspecting it. Satan would love for nothing more than for your family to be involved with every sport, every activity, and thus never have time for each other. It is when we are segregated and alone that he can begin to divide and conquer. So in light of these things, what can we do?
Have you and your spouse ever intentionally discussed what you want your family’s priorities are? Even more, have you ever run those across older, more mature believers to see if they are good priorities? Do you stick to your guns when culture, coaches, or even you own kids push back on you? What happens when practice falls on the same night as weekly family supper? I was reminded of how much our kids learn from us when my 4-year-old repeated something I said (to my amazement). What does it communicate to our kids when Sunday morning worship as a family gets consistently replaced with (insert whatever here)?
My wife is a planner. One of the best ways I can love her is sit down with her on Sunday nights and walk through our upcoming week. What this does is it gives us a tangible reminder of how quickly life can get busy. Calendars seem to fill themselves. My wife and I seek to find at least one day (or evening at least) that is intentionally set aside to be family time. Whether it’s a meal or a shared activity it is time carved out at the beginning of the week so we can say no to the undoubted other things that will seek to fill that time. If you and your spouse sit down and struggle to find even one meal time that everyone in the family can be at—something may need to give.
Think Big, Start Small
I can personally guarantee you this: no child will grow up, graduate from high school, and look back on his/her upbringing and think: gee, I wish I would have spent less time with my family and more time at soccer practice. I know that there is temptation to feel important by having your student be the starting quarterback or first chair in orchestra. Yes, these things have their place in a child’s development. But at the end of the day you are, and will always be, the largest and most significant influence on your child’s life. Saying “no” to the captain’s practice because it is on family night may get you a “you’re the worst!” or an eye roll—but that small conviction will have large dividends in the future.
As I stated earlier, this is not a post to shame you regarding your student’s activities. However, we all need to be reminded of what is most important in our families. There is no “formula.” Every family has different limits, standards, and values. However, these things can only be addressed when we address them intentionally. I am praying for fruitful conversations in your home.
For your joy and progress in the faith-