Apologized to my 12 year old last night for not paying enough attention to him. I told him there is absolutely NOTHING that should detract me from spending quality time with him. He shouldn’t regularly get my “leftover” time… he should know that I love him enough to prioritize him. And although he played it off (as a preteen would do), I could tell my words meant a lot (now, I need to really live out what I said!)
Prioritizing our relationships doesn’t mean that they get ALL of our time, but it does mean that they should not regularly get our leftover time. And it’s so easy to do… to fall into the trap of giving leftovers, isn’t it?? I mean, the things that we do WELL, we tend to do to an extreme… go overboard with… because THAT’S where we feel successful… THAT’S where the accolades come from. I mean, Seth is never going to say, “Yay, Dad! You came home on time… you hit a home run today!” then run and give me a huge bear hug! LOL! AIN’T gonna happen! 🙂 And so, if I’m not careful (which sometimes can be a lot of the time… ugh), I can end up neglecting him… and without even realizing it. And the way he’s wired, he won’t say anything about it, either… but when he gets quality time — and I mean GOOD TIME — it’s written all over his face how much he appreciates it.
I can’t afford to lose my kids. And you can’t afford to jeopardize those relationships that mean so much to you. But the very REAL truth is… if we’re not careful, we’ll blow it. And the sad thing is that we most often don’t even realize it until it’s too late. Andy Stanley wrote a book (a very GOOD book, by the way) called “Choosing to Cheat“… and the basic premise is this: Somebody’s gonna lose. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to equally divide among all the important things in your life. But consider this — your ministry relationships, your work relationships…. those can be replaced. You can always get another job, you can always get another ministry. But lose your family, and you’re in a heap of trouble! So… go ahead and cheat… you’re gonna do it anyway… someone is gonna lose, because there simply isn’t enough of you to go around! But choose wisely… and always… ALWAYS… choose FOR your family; NEVER against them. Our spouse and kids will tolerate neglect for awhile, because they love us, and generally want the best for us and want to see us succeed… but not at their expense.
Listen. I know we mean well… but good intentions are not enough. The Principle of the Path applies here: It is not our intention that leads us to the right destination. It is our direction that leads us there. Seth won’t feel valued and appreciated simply because I intend to spend quality time with him… he will only feel that way as I plan and prioritize spending quality time with him.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we know this is true, this is right, this is the way it’s supposed to be… and we know, from our own checkered relational experience, as well. All we have to do is look back over our past, and see the bad relational habits we’ve accrued over the years… and the relational carnage left in the wake. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to check myself. And I bet it isn’t yours, either. We can do better. We must do better. We have to work, we have to make a living and put food on the table… that can’t and shouldn’t change. But let’s stop giving the best of our time to our ministry, our workplace, our friends, our hobbies, or whatever else we’re “good” at and feel like a success when we’re there. Let’s give the best of our time to those who walk beside us and love us, no matter what. Let’s prioritize those relationships that God has graciously and divinely given us, and treasure them.