A recent survey sponsored by Publisher's Weekly magazine revealed that once again, America's favorite leisure activities are reading and watching television, both of which ranked higher than spending time with family. Although books are wonderful (I am working on writing one myself right now) and television can provide an enjoyable escape, it seems sad that these two relatively meaningless activities are ranked above the life-giving role and God-given mandate that we have to raise, spend time with and enjoy our families.
I am not sure if this sorry state of affairs came about because people just do not enjoy their families as a result of the disarray many families find themselves in today or if people just do not realize how important it is to create families that everyone can enjoy.
Although reading a book or watching TV may bring momentary pleasure, it is important for me that I always remember that sowing into my family life will be the most richly rewarded leisure activity that will affect not just me and my children, but their children and their children's children. In the Bible, Proverbs 13:22 tells us "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children...". I believe that this inheritance refers not only to material wealth, but the more precious inheritance of all of God's blessings and character that we desire for our children.
My pastor at New Song Church, Mark Miller, is fond of talking about the importance of how we handle our time, talent and treasure. He reminds all of us that he can tell what our priorities are if he looks at our checkbook ledger and our calendar. I think that this prioritizing refers not only to our roles within the Body of Christ but also to our roles as parents.
----Time- the number one key ingredient that families need to thrive is time together. I have identified time as the "secret weapon" in my work with families. Almost always, more time together as a family and more time with parents specifically, can eliminate or greatly improve behavior problems in children and marital problems of parents. I can not count how many times someone called for a referral and I gave them a few simple tips on how to spend more time with the troubled person or persons and they called back to tell me that they no longer needed a referral. All the books and psychiatrist visits in the world can not make up for the hard work of finding ways to spend more time together. The harvest that will be reaped as a result of the time spent with family will include closer relationships that will lead to fewer emotional, relationship, behavioral and academic problems later in life. The quality of our children's relationships with us now will directly impact the quality of their relationships with their children and so on. Ultimately, spending time with your children and teaching them about the Lord and leading not only by word but be example (and you can best set an example by spending the maximum amount of time possible with children), will lead your children to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, guaranteeing them Eternal Life!
----Talent- so many of us are very caught up in finding our purpose in life. The problem becomes that sometimes once we identify our purpose and along with that we begin to appreciate our unique talents, we are usually very quick to use them outside of our homes. We often forget that our talents should also be used for the betterment of our families. Remember the old adage "The shoemaker's children never seem to have shoes."? We must all be aware of that tendency and strive to use our talents directly for the good of our families. My husband, Sam, is a professional photographer and there was a time when my son was first born that he did often forget to take pictures once he was relaxing at home. He came to see this deficit in the use of his talent and now he is always wearing his family-use digital camera on his belt so that he can take pictures of whatever funny things the kids are doing at a moment's notice. Now, we just need a new hard drive on the Mac to store all those thousands of photos!
----Treasure- The way that I spend my money has always been somewhat of a struggle for me. It has been difficult for me to balance future needs with the needs of today. Of course when it comes to children, proper planning for education, insurance needs and mom and dad's retirement are all important. But equally important are sowing a seed by giving. How we give will not only teach our children how to give, but because giving is an act of obedience it will also help us and our families realize all of the blessings that God has in store for us. In our high-consumption society, I also believe that is important to invest smartly in children's toys, clothes and other needs. Buying the highest-quality items that you can afford can actually pay off in the long run because of longer times to replace items, less maintenance and often higher educational value. I often have to remind myself that saying "no" to some cheap, thrill-of-the-moment toy may bring momentary sadness but being able to save up for a more durable, timeless, higher-quality educational item will be well worth it.
Let's make up our minds to enjoy our children today and to put our efforts into what will will really count!
"And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." Hebrews 9:15 (NKJV)
Dear Father in Heaven,
I thank you and praise you for the inheritance that you have arranged for us through the Blood of Jesus Christ. May I leave a godly inheritance for my children, the children you have put under my care. Help me to be mindful that the seeds I plant within my family today will reap a harvest in the future. Help me to wisely sow the best of my time, talent and treasure into my family today. Even as I sacrifice for my children Lord, remind me that my sacrifice for my children does not even compare to the sacrifice that you, O Lord made for me. May I walk confidently in the belief of the riches of Eternal Life that You, my Heavenly Father, have established for me and may this confidence give me a joy that fills my family and our home. In Jesus name I pray.