By Don Gentry
None of us intentionally make mistakes, and I still haven’t met anyone that intentionally set out to destroy their families. However, I have seen many, many, many, (are you getting the point) families and relationships destroyed by a little word that all of us have to figure out how to handle.
The little word that is the unintentional killer of relationships is the word “time.”
Time is not really to be blamed; it is actually how we fail to manage our time that is so destructive.
I have sat across the table to many couples and parents and asked them to help me understand when they saw the relationship start slipping. Two things happen: No one ever agrees upon how long ago the slippery slope started, and once I ask a few key questions, a much longer time has passed than they originally thought.
Is “Time” attacking your family relationships and values?
Andy Stanley, in Choosing to Cheat, talks about this topic in much more depth. One of his statements is “The problem is, you love your family in your heart, but you don’t love them in your schedule. And they can’t see your heart.”
Is that you? What does your calendar say to your spouse or to your children? And don’t get so focused on your work schedule that you forget to look at your family schedule.
Some of you may think, “Well, I spend all kinds of time running my child to ball practice, then dance class, then over to tutoring, and then drama club the next day, and we have to fit church in some time…” and the list goes on.
Let me offer a word of caution: How busy you are also defines your love. You may think you are showing your love by trying to give your kid every opportunity in the world, but in reality, busyness and your schedule is destroying the very thing you are trying to build.
Here is a quick test. Do you have enough time to do what you want to do as a family?
Or try this one. Do you control your schedule or does your schedule control you?
If your schedule and/or your kids’ schedule control you and your family’s time, then you are at risk of letting your family be destroyed by the quiet little enemy of mis-managed time.
I have had many people tell me over the years, “You’re a pastor and you just don’t understand.” Let me assure you, I want the best for my children just like you do. I want my kids to experience everything they can too. I want them to be a part of every great club and school, and opportunity as well.
All three of our girls are in high school now. I realize more and more every day how quickly the time is passing, and as a pastor I have never ever had a 9-5 job. Our girls have never ever experienced a full weekend unless we happen to go on vacation, and even then our vacations are dictated by my ability to be back on Sunday. Trust me, I get the stress of raising a family and being intentional about time.
“Busyness” encourages our children and ourselves to give into the lie that our value in life is based upon what we do. Because of this lie, we manage our time based upon “what we do” instead of “who we are.”
I am definitely helping to shape my children’s lives and guiding them to decide what they want to do. I am not overly concerned with what they do as they get older. My goal as a parent is to help shape who my children become. The reality is “what my children do” will change multiple times throughout their lives, but “who they are” will go with them to the grave.
I don’t want to discourage you, I want to challenge you.
Get control of your schedule, or your schedule will control you.
Learn to say no to yourself and your children.
There is no magic pill in any of this but if you evaluate your schedule with some of these principles in mind, you will be much more prepared to guard your family from the destructive force of mismanaged time.