The back to school season is one of the busiest times of the year for families with children. There are clothes and supplies to purchase, meetings to attend, teachers to meet and all of those wonderful forms to complete. It is easy to look up and realize it is October and God has somehow slipped to the bottom of your family’s priority list.
It’s not that you meant to ignore God. You love Him and really do want to obey Him. He somehow just didn’t seem as urgent as the teacher who sent home daily reminder notes. Now the school year schedule is entrenched with classes, homework and extra curricular activities. There is no time left for Bible studies, devotionals or most weeks even worship services. You feel good if you remember to pray at meal times (which rarely if ever happen at a table with the entire family present).
So what can you do to put God first in the life of your family? There is a way to sort things out if you are willing to carve out a little time to make it happen.
1. Sit down with your spouse and children if they are older. If they are younger, you can introduce this at a family meeting later in the process. Spend some time in prayer, asking God to help your family always to put Him and His Will first. If you believe your family has gotten far from God, this would also be a great time to ask God for His forgiveness.
2. Write down everything your family does. You may have a master list or one for each member of the family. Include chores, classes, friend time, “me” time, volunteer work – anything that one or more of you does on a regular basis.
3. Analyze your lists. Which things are mandatory? Which things seem mandatory, but really aren’t? (Do you really need to scrub the molding clean once a week?) What things are a burden? Is there one family member doing things others in the family should be doing for themselves or taking a turn helping complete? Which things honor God? Which things are actually pulling you away from God? What would God add to your list? What would God remove from your list?
4. Author Bob Goff makes a great suggestion in his book Love Does. He suggests we should sit down the same day every week and decide to quit one thing. He also sits down once a year and quits everything! (He then adds back the things which are a priority.) I know many of you teach your children to honor their commitments and finish a season or a semester. How many of us keep doing things though that not only no longer interest us, but don’t bring glory to God and in fact are separating us from Him in some way? Take a look at your lists and your analysis of them. What thing or things does your family need to quit right now? Which ones will you quit at the end of this season or school year? Will quitting those things help you move God up on your family’s priority list?
I will admit. Doing this takes courage. Your child may be the only one in his class not in Little League. You may have to turn down the request for you to run for President of the P.T.A. Your children may have to do an extra chore. Everyone may have to sacrifice something.
You have to be willing to do what you need to do to make time for your family to worship and serve God. Even if the other parents look at you as if you have suddenly sprouted a second head on your shoulders. You know the same look David probably got when he stepped up to say he was willing to take on Goliath with God’s help. It turned out pretty well for David and you may just be surprised how well it turns out for your family. I’d love to hear what happens if you will share in a comment below!