My wife and I have five young children, ages 11 through baby. So between my job, church responsibilities and work, life seems fast-paced, from morning to night. Because of this, I have had to be more intentional about life, making sure the real priorities get proper attention. Here are several lessons I learned.
1. Put God first. Others second. Yourself last.
A few years ago, a powerful video testimony movement called “I Am Second” came about, when celebrities and athletes who profess to be Christians say that put God first and themselves second. In God’s economy, however, it would be better to put God first, others second and ourselves last. Do your career goals push others behind you, or put others first? Examine your habits and see if you are obeying the Great Commandment and the Second Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40).
2. Don’t take on too much/over-commit.
We have all been there. Our church asks for help, and we say “yes.” A friend asks for help, and we say “yes.” Work is always wanting more from our time. Before we know it, there is less and less free time for your family. Take time today to examine your schedule. Are there any commitments that might be good, in themselves, but are taking away from what is best? Use wisdom to say “yes” and “no” in a God-honoring way.
3. Take back Sundays.
I wrote this piece more than a year ago on this topic. What do your Sundays look like? Are they for ballgames or church, shopping or family time? Biblical commentators point out that Christians are no longer under the law, and we are not required to keep the Sabbath. At the same time, the Sabbath was given as a gift to man (Gen. 2:2-3) for rest; it has, from the very early Church, been the dedicated day for worship, and it offers a great opportunity for family time. Consider the power of taking back Sundays for your family and experience the joy of worship and rest.
4. Keep the table sacred.
Compared to nations like France, very few families eat the main meal of the day together. This is a mistake. We see in the New Testament, time and time again, Jesus sharing fellowship over a meal. Whether it was breaking bread with his disciples or visiting someone’s home, Christ teaches us that table time is sacred. In our fast-food lives, making the dinner time (or a meal time, even breakfast) could make all the difference in your family.
5. Unplug/Limit technology time.
According to statistics, people check their smart phones 150 times a day. That statistic is old and is likely much higher. Smartphones are growing more and more intrusive to family life. I don’t have to explain this, as you have seen it. One solution is to let your boss know you will not be able to check email as frequently during evening hours. Another is to set your phone down. Blogger Carlos Whittaker even has a “family bag” for their cell phones for the entire evening, so they are not distracted from each other. Depending on your family and your job, set some limits on screen time and see how God works.
Each of these lessons I learned the hard way and am still a work in progress. By God’s grace, I hope to live a more balanced life and bring Christ glory by keeping my priorities straight.