Too Busy For God’s To-Do List
by Kristina Matz
“A field trip on Monday and then two play dates on Wednesday. Oh, and I can’t forget about our nature walk on Friday. Plus we still have church and ministry commitments on Tuesday and Thursday. Phew… It looks like another busy week for us!”
“We better just grab a bite to eat on the way to soccer practice tonight. And I can’t forget to take the kids to their piano and karate lessons this week. Then we have AWANA on Thursday and a school report due by Friday. Oh, that reminds me. We’ll need to stop at the craft store tomorrow after school. Phew… It looks like another busy week for us!”
I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel like I'm so busy that I'm tempted to just yell at my children to "stop fighting" without stopping to actually teach them how to practically and biblically work through their conflict. Perhaps you can relate to the idea of "overlooking" one of your child's clear acts of disobedience because you're rushing out the door, late to another practice or meeting? Unfortunately, it’s all too easy in today’s fast-paced world to make time for extra circular stuff but fail to make the time for what God says is the priority. I've been convicted lately. I've been burdened with this idea that we sometimes make the "extras" the "main things" and the "main things" the "extras."
We can all agree that life is busy. Whether we have one child or ten children! And this is not an article to tell you whether or not you should quit karate or stop meeting together for your weekly nature walk. Rather, it’s an attempt to make us all pause for a moment. Whatever is physically written on our calendars each day of the week, we all have an extremely vital “to-do” that God has assigned to us each and every day. And we need to be sure that our own personal “to-do” list isn’t crowding out His list for us.
Our Spiritual To-Do List
If I’m being honest, sometimes I wish the Bible had more to say about parenting. I want to know exactly what to say when a situation comes up that has stumped me. But, try as I might, I cannot find the “what to do when your 2-year-old sticks a Lego up his nose seconds after you told him not to” verse in Leviticus. But that’s where God forces me to daily rely on Him and His wisdom. To seek counsel first from the pages of Scripture and then from mentors and pastors around me when the situation escalates past a Lego in the nose.
But God has truly not left us wanting when it comes to direction. While there will be plenty of opportunities to seek wisdom and wise counsel throughout our journey of biblical parenting, God has also given us plenty of instruction. And if we look specifically at the passages that are directed to parents we can quickly see that God is very clear with His daily “to-do” list for us. I want to look at just two of these passages. They are not the only parenting passages, but I promise they are quite comprehensive and will keep us plenty busy.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
In these two verses, the Lord is commanding us to teach our children about His commandments, talking about them all throughout the day with our kiddos, and then spend time investing in the consistent correction of our children when they fail to obey those commandments.
The Joy of God’s To-Do’s
It’s tempting to look at our role as instructor and corrector as a burden rather than a blessing. And I’ve heard it said that, with our kids, “more is caught than taught”. If we view our role as a burden, our children will take note and look at our instruction, and by relation God’s instruction, as burdensome rather than the blessing that it is. The Apostle John made this fact incredibly clear in his first epistle.
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3
This is a truth that we reiterate to our children over and over again. We remind them that God alone is our Creator, and as such, He is the only one who truly knows and understands what is best for us. In Deuteronomy chapter 4, Moses asks the people, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8). Clearly Moses saw the connection between the care and nearness of God and the rules that He has set in place for His people. We need to see the same connection and then help our children to see it for themselves!
I cannot imagine that any of us would allow our children to run and play without first giving them a stern warning regarding the dangers that exist in their little world. Hot stoves, electrical outlets, driving cars, and precarious heights just to name a few. We warn them and instruct them because we love them and desire their good and not their harm. In the same way, God has shown His incredible love for us in giving us clear instructions regarding what is for our good. In following His commandments we experience great blessings and avoid the things that cause us great harm. And what a privilege that He has then untrusted you and me with the opportunity to pass those loving rules and statutes onto our children! I pray that we all see this as the blessing that it is and help our children to see that there is great joy in keeping God’s commandments.
Making Time for Our Parental To-Do
So, we know what God has assigned to us as parents and we understand what a joy our task ought to be, but what does any of this have to do with being busy?! Unfortunately, it is far too easy in our fast-paced culture to be so “on the go” that we simply do not make time for God’s very important “to-do” for us. When we read through Deuteronomy 6:7 and Ephesians 6:4, one thing should be clear, this is a call to intentionality. Talking about God’s commandments all throughout the day does not “just happen.” And correcting our children when they miss the mark of those commandments does not “just happen.” Quite the opposite! Without being intentional these things will quite simply never happen.
Like we were saying, how many times have we been busy about our day and simply yelled, “Stop arguing!”, “Be nice!”, or “Give that back!” without ever stopping to explain to our children why those things are important and what God’s word specifically says about grumbling, kindness, and generosity? Or how many times have we been rushing out the door when a child disobeys and we simply “overlook” it because we don’t have the time to properly correct them. If either of these scenarios is familiar, our calendars and our priorities need to be reevaluated.
If we are making time for karate and baseball, but find the day passing too quickly to intentionally teach our children about God’s Word then something is out of balance. If we are making time for one more play date and our book club, but we are all too often overlooking sin so that we won’t be late then something is out of balance. We cannot look at these God-given tasks as “extras” while making the extracurriculars of life our priorities. May we all take the necessary steps to correct our thinking in order to align our priorities with God’s priorities.