Priorities, Presence & Prayer
Nearly two months ago, I wrote a guest post about a journey Joy and I have been on lately. You can read it here for a little background. Recently, I realized (with the help of my lovely wife and a merciful God), that I was neglecting some major things in life. Namely, I was failing to lead my family in critical areas and allowing my relationship with Joy and the kids to suffer.
None of it was anything people would call “critical.” We weren’t in desperation or “on the brink.” But we were on cruise control – in a bad way. You probably would have looked at our life and figured everything was fine. But if mediocrity and misplaced priorities are acceptable, particularly among Christian families, then there’s some major readjusting that needs to take place.
I suspect our journey is so common within our community (extended family, church, school, etc…), that I’ve been fearful for other families since this began. So I thought a follow up blog post (or 4) would be worthwhile in hopes that even one guy might identify with our walk and make some “radical” changes as a husband and father. By that I definitely mean something uncomfortable. Something that is foreign to modern culture – even Christian culture.
So after the blog post in July, three words kept coming to mind. They don’t come from a book or a workshop on fatherhood. They’re just a few words that kept coming up as I processed what Joy and I were experiencing; they are priorities, presence and prayer. I think these capture the essence of what we (and me in particular) have been struggling with, and over several posts I hope to unpack what each of these means for our family, and especially for me as a husband and a father. I pray they speak to your family in some way as well.
As a precursor, far too often, we men view ourselves principally as providers rather than spiritual leaders. Yes, we see ourselves as fathers, and husbands, and coaches. But principally, we see ourselves as providers. If we adequately provide for our family then we feel like we have pretty much fulfilled our role. If we have abundantly provided for our family, then we’ve basically earned bonus points, which we cash in from time to time. On the flip side, if we are not able to provide for our family then it can be devastating to us. So to a large extent, our identity is wrapped up in our ability to provide for and support our family.
As a result, this (among other factors) can lead us to have misplaced priorities (I would argue idolatrous at the root). It can distract us from our family, it can lead us to not be fully engaged, and ultimately it can destroy our spiritual headship in the home resulting in a weak prayer life and little time spent in God’s Word and teaching it to our children.
In a word, we “settle.” We settle for so much less than God intended for us and we don’t fulfill our calling to be the husband/father that God called us to be (a true servant leader in our home). Instead, we find fulfillment in other things. One of those may be work. Maybe it’s possessions. Maybe it’s the prestige that comes with climbing the ladder at the office, or completing a large deal, or traveling to exotic locations. Whatever it is, it distracts many us and unfortunately our wives and children suffer.
On the outside, things may appear fine to friends and family, but on the inside the foundations may be crumbling. We are so good at playing church that most people may never realize something is destroying us from within. Hopefully we stop playing church, start being the church.
For us, that means living out the gospel. Not living it out kinda sorta while we pursue other treasures, but really living it out keeping our eyes on the eternal. It also means being humble enough to acknowledge that we’ve bought into a culture (including a Christian culture) that promotes and idolizes lifestyle above family, and selfishness above sacrificial love for others. Prosperity is the gospel most of us reject yet everyone seems to live. And it’s destroying us from the core.
Ultimately, what does a life that is utterly surrendered to Jesus Christ look like? What does a family that is sold out to the gospel live like? For us, the answer certainly was not the status quo. It was remarkably different and we will share some of that in the next few posts. But it started at the top. It started with dad.