Great family life doesn’t come easy. But there isn’t anything else in this life that compares with the joy and fulfillment one has when family life is going well. There is a sense of ease and fulfillment and shear excitement to just be with each other in such times. Tons of time and attention has been given to all the family must do to be a successful, productive family unit. I suspect too much attention has been given to it. About a week ago one of the members at Central church died and I went to visit with his wife. It intrigued me that as she talked about him she was all smiles. She said he was one that never got in a hurry to do anything. He talked slow, he ate slow, he moved slow and if he asked him to do something he would get to it in his own time.
Later when thinking about her description I began thinking how different that is from most in our day. Especially in family life, we have brought the business mentality home from the office and are looking for efficient means of getting things done at home. I often hear people complain about how messy their mate is and how things just aren’t kept in order. If they would just have a system it would all be great. This is a time when people have their calendar’s on their phone or computer and find it filled not just with appointments having to do with work, but stuffed with activities that go one with their children.
Great family life isn’t efficient and wasn’t ever meant to be. Effectiveness is what we are looking for at home. Effective parents don’t try to fit their family into the calendar. They are always planning something to do with the child. Much of their life with their children is about being with them. Some of the most effective ways of spending time with our children is in doing chores together. If a child doesn’t learn to work at home, they may never learn it. It is great to play games together, to have devotionals together, to work in the yard together and just about any other way we are together, relaxed and demonstrating what it is like to be a Christian in regular life.
What I observe all too often is that parents are so focused on providing a nice home, nice cars, nice clothes and nice everything else that they are both working long hours on their jobs trying to make certain they can pay for all these nice things, that they don’t have the time or energy to just be with their children. The result is that kids become more of a project than a significant part of the family community.
Very few things put as much pressure on a family as trying to pay for all the nice things we purchase to fulfill some image of what we are supposed to have if we are successful. Most families I know would be far better off as a family if they owned half as much and g treasured their family life more. While we are trying to keep up with the Jones’ the Jones’ are filing for bankruptcy because they can’t pay for all the stuff they have.
Jesus, the pattern for our lives, said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on this earth where moth and rust corrupt and thieves break in and steal. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust corrupt and thieves cannot break through and steal. FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE WILL YOUR HEART ALSO BE.” Where are your treasures? If your answer is that it is in some fund or stock, gold, or property you’ve got your treasures in the wrong place. On this earth the greatest treasures of a physical nature are always your wife or husband and your children. If you lose those it won’t matter a whole bunch how big your bank account is.
It is never the size of the house, or the expensiveness of your car that determines what your child will grow up to be or become. It won’t make an ouch of difference whether or not they had the newest brand of shoes “Everybody is wearing” or the best line clothes that one can wear. It will matter greatly if they have seen what family life is supposed to look like. It will make a huge difference if they have developed a faith of their own that they can stand up for when it is being ridiculed by some professor who may know his subject well but is woefully ignorant of spiritual matters of God and the Bible, yet speaks as though he or she were an authority on the subject.
Listen closely to Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus in Ephesians 6:1-4. “Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this right. Honor your father and your mother that you days may be long on the earth, for this is first command with a promise. Fathers, do not provoke your children to angry outbursts, but bring them up in the training and discipline of the Lord.” Notice he taught us to focus on bringing our children up, not keep them as our babies forever. It is to bring them up in the discipline and training of the Lord.
Every parent is meant to be God’s missionary to their children to train them in the ways of God. The church can help. Children’s ministries, youth ministries, and the whole community at church can make a difference. But they can’t make up for parents taking the time to train and discipline them in God’s ways.
Instead of considering “Focus on the Family” I want to challenge you to have a “Family Focus” that is right with the Lord.