“Have you ever had so much to do that it made you not want to do anything at all?” I asked Andy, our youth pastor, earlier today. He politely laughed and replied, “My goodness, what all do you have to do today? How do you have so much on your list?”
I bet you can relate. Well, maybe? I HOPE you can relate so that I’m not alone! I’m currently leading a Sunday morning class called Visionary Parenting. It is based on a book with the same title by Dr. Rob Rienow. Two Sundays ago, our topic for the day was The Family Calendar. Did your heart just beat a little faster at the mere mention of The Family Calendar? Did it suddenly spark a panic at something you’ve forgotten to write down? More and more it seems like The Family Calendar is becoming the boss. We feel hopelessly out of control—we desperately want to be the master of the family activities! However, like quicksand, the harder we fight to become free, we just sink even deeper.
I guess we should start with a foundational question: Does God even care about our Family Calendar? In Exodus 20:8, we find #4 on the list of Ten Commandments (God’s Top 10): “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.” (Exodus 20:8-10 NLT). To go even further Jesus talks about the importance of the Sabbath in Mark 2:27.
I think it’s safe to say that God DOES care about The Family Calendar. Why? Because God knows that what we give our time to defines what we care about most. If you’re like most Christian parents, you desire for your children to grow to love God. You want them to find a good church they can attend while off at college, be generally obedient to God, find a good, Christian spouse to marry, and hopefully raise their children to do the same. Of course we find ourselves wanting these things in addition to high academic performance, star athleticism, and an overall “well-roundedness” that will be an eye-catcher for their future employer choosing to hire them.
So we pack The Family Calendar to fit all of these activities and opportunities for all of our children to accomplish. Dance on Monday, piano or guitar lessons on Tuesday, homework on Wednesdays, sports practice on Thursday, social activities with friends on Friday, sports games on Saturday and then travel team and more homework on Sunday. Our children are going to be so well-rounded, we beam. We weren’t even late to anything this week—I’m beginning to get a handle on this parenting thing, we think. But instead of being well-rounded, we’re exhausted. Instead of noticeable growth and maturity, we start to notice increased irritability and tiredness in our children. And if this lasts long enough, we add counseling to The Family Calendar, so that our children and teens can get the help they need sorting out their ever busy schedules and lives!* How can we, as parents, prevent this burnout? How do we help our children navigate the very murky waters of personal achievement, excellence, and spirituality without making The Family Calendar bulge and buckle under the weight?
A child learns what is important through the family schedule. There’s no way around it. Our family calendars are telling our children what we as parents value most. Do you want your children to be star baseball players? They can tell by how many teams and leagues you sign them up for. Do you want your children to be highly academic at the expense of everything else? They can tell by the way you respond to their school demands and their grades. Do you want your children to be spiritually mature and have a thirst and hunger for the one true God? They can tell by how often you make it a part of The Family Calendar.
I give you permission to become a Master of The Family Calendar! On average, you have 18 years of intense, personal influence over your children. Your close reach begins to decrease after age 18. The days are long but the years are short. Eighteen years can both feel like forever and too short all at the same time. Parents, don’t give into the lie that says your children will be at a detriment or a disadvantage if they aren’t “well-rounded”. The Bible never says they key to life is “well-roundedness”. No, it summarizes all of life by saying the most important thing ever is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your soul and all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This is your ultimate goal for your children. This is the ultimate test of successful parenting according to God’s standards.
We’d love to continue this conversation with you in more depth! It’s not too late to join the Visionary Parenting class on Sundays at 9AM. Please consider joining us for the rest of this series. We offer a judgment-free zone as we support each other in the issues that are facing parents and their families in today’s times.
*(I am not suggesting that counseling is never appropriate. I hold counseling in high regard as an additional tool in personal growth and recovery. There are times when counseling is the best option for children, teens, and families. In the above paragraph, I am simply alluding to the fact that our over-scheduling can sometimes create a counseling need because regular times of rest and reflection are not happening; and that our bodies, minds and souls were not made for 24/7 activities and engagement.)