This summer I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my priorities. It could be my age or the fact that my son graduated High school and is starting college this fall. Or it could be that I have had many conversations with friends who are wrestling with their own unmet expectations which has caused me to ponder my own. Either way, I am learning to value my family more and thus prioritize them more every day.
If you grew up or are growing up in a loving healthy family, you have tasted a slice of heaven. There is nothing like coming home to warm smiles and caring hands. And on the flip side, if you grew up in or are growing up in a troubled home full of anger, outbursts, and toxic relationships, you have smelled the very stench of hell. Although you cannot change your past, you can change your future. So even if you grew up in a troubled family, you don’t have to relive it again with your own family. Whatever your situation looks like today, you can make the most of it by making your family your priority. God intends for your home to be a place of connection and joy rather than a place of isolation and pain. He wants your home to reflect the glory of heaven not the shadows of hell.
I know from my own experience that unless you make your family a priority it won’t be a priority. For years I spent more time building the church I serve and my other businesses than I did building my own family and my family paid the price for it. I have apologized to my kids and my wife and have turned things around so now I can speak as someone who has been there and done that. There are three why your family should be your priority. First, your family is your first responsibility. God obviously comes first according to Deuteronomy 6:5, then, if you are married, your spouse comes next and then your kids follow. If you are parents, it is your responsibility to raise godly children. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Second, your family is where spiritual formation starts. Paul wrote Timothy affirming that spiritual formation starts in the family. Paul wrote this to his understudy Timothy: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5). Timothy’s grandmother was a believer, his mother was a believer, and now he is a believer. Timothy’s family impacted him in a positive way. Research has proven that most decisions about faith are made before the age of 13.
Third, your family is where your faith is fleshed out in a very real way. My family teaches me patience and endurance and it is where I give and receive love like Jesus wants me to. Spiritual formation starts with you, is cultivated with your spouse, modeled to your children, and lived out through relationships.
If your family has not been your priority, think about how you can change things. Often a few small changes can change everything. If you are on your phone all the time, create phone-free times at home. Turn off the T.V. during dinner or try to eat together as often as you can. Don’t bring your emotions home with you, learn to set them aside before you come in. And take a vacation. It doesn’t have to cost much, just take some time off together even if you do a stay-cation. I don’t want to live a life filled with good intentions. I want to live a full life with no regrets and that starts by making my family a priority. You can make your family a priority too.