This is part 8 of a series of posts I’ve been sending out every Friday,  relevant to the theme of this year’s ENGAGE Family Discipleship & Home Education Conference (only 2 weeks to go for Christchurch, 3 for Auckland!!!). Here goes with the eighth post…

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Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Crazy-Paced World…

“Saying Yes, Saying No”.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NKJV – 6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

In the last post, we talked about the cost of crazy-busy, and how the actions we take or fail to take due to being busy and distracted, can have long lasting and costly consequences. Today, we will be looking at the importance of safeguarding time with our spouse and children.

The Reason We Can’t Say No

I remember hearing a phrase many years ago, that stopped me in my tracks and lodged itself into my memory banks for good. I can’t remember where I was at the time, or who said it, but it was simply this, “The reason we can’t say no, is because we don’t have a big enough yes”.

This really spoke to me, as early in our married life I always felt I had to justify why I couldn’t do a certain thing for someone, or take on a commitment – especially if that time in which I was needed was “spare” time.

After all, if I have spare time, why would I say no?

It always felt much easier to say no when I had something “important” happening already, but if I was just “at home” with Becky and the children, I felt uneasy about that being a reason to say no.

Maybe you can relate?

Maybe you are the type of man or woman who others speak of by saying, “they would do anything for anyone”.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but that’s not always a noble description, and sometimes it can indicate a flaw which needs addressing.

Quality or Quantity?

Quality time is never a substitute for quantity of time. This is simply because quality time, can only ever come from a quantity of time. Furthermore, it is in the “normal” moments we spend together as a family (“sit in your house”, “walk by the way” – Deut 6:7) that we get to normalise God’s Word, God’s presence, and God’s glory – so our children don’t just think that only kicks in on Sunday mornings.

Quality time involves bringing God into every aspect of life, naturally, joyfully, yet intentionally.

“The reason we can’t say no, is because we don’t have a big enough yes”

Yes, we should desire to be busy and productive for the Lord, but fruitful and effective ministry will only ever flow from a family environment in which much time, affection, energy, and emotion is invested.

If you want to read a sobering account of a man who said “yes” to the needs of others but at the same time said “no” to the needs of his family – with devastating consequences – click here to read the story of Bob Pierce.

 

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

So don’t feel guilty by saying no to a task or commitment, because you had planned to just “be” with your spouse or children.

Don’t feel like you have to justify spending your time this way, or even explain it. I used to do this, now I just say, “sorry I’m not available that night”.

Be proactive with time spent with your spouse and children, not reactive. To be reactive means we have seasons of neglect, broken only by erratic, pre-crisis circumstances. To be proactive means we are saying a big “yes”, to simply being with our family, which makes it easier to say “no” when we need to.

Of course, it needs to be said there is a time to say “yes” – even when it’s sacrificial for us, our spouse and our children. However, when it is the exception, not the norm, and when other priorities are in place, our families don’t suffer the consequences of sustained neglect.

In summary – when a family is committed to spending quality time with the Lord (personal and family devotions) and quality time together, without distraction, free from the expectations of others – such a family is then in a much stronger place to be very effective in serving others.

A family good at being together will be good at doing together.

For thought, prayer and application: One of the things our family has found very helpful, is to plan ahead each week or month the time we will commit to hospitality, ministry, meetings and various other activities – making sure we allow plenty of time for our family to be together. This ebbs and flows, gets neglected at times and is far from a perfect system. However, it does help us to say “no” when seemingly urgent demands come up, that can, in reality, wait. Likewise, it allows us to say, “yes” spontaneously at times, because we know the time we have already prioritised will absorb some flexibility and sacrifice. Prayerfully consider how you can make more of a “yes” with your family time, so you can avoid that time being used up on less important activity.

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