Is Your Family Stressed Out?
With overly-full schedules, there is no time for families to just enjoy doing things with each other. Everyone has to be somewhere doing something.
Have you noticed that the majority of Christian families are really stressed out? Often, when I speak at conferences, I will ask, “How many of you are living too fast?” The reactions are very interesting. Folks look at each other with an expression of despair, heads nod enthusiastically, and hands are quickly raised. It seems that everyone is quick to acknowledge that we have been pulled into the “fast lane.” I would expect this from people living in urban communities, but even the “country folk” have been victimized by the “rat race” pace. Is anything more destructive to family life than this?
It’s like a snowball rolling down a steep hill. As it gains momentum and speed, the size increases until the centrifugal force causes it to explode. And families are no different. The faster we live, the more force is exerted until, finally, we reach the point that nothing can hold us together. We disintegrate without even knowing what has taken place.
We may be living in a world that has gone crazy, but do we have to go crazy with it? One of the reasons why our world is in this condition is because of the emptiness so many people are experiencing. Their lives are so void of meaning and purpose, they go to every imaginable extreme to discover something worth living for. But for us who know Christ, that should not be so. No one has more meaning and purpose for living than a born-again Christian. The reality of our personal relationship with Christ gives us the greatest motivation for living.
So what’s happened to us? Please pardon me for saying this, but I do not believe our churches have helped us very much. I say this based on 30 years as a pastor and ten as an evangelist. Just look at the average fundamental church calendar. It is usually packed so full of events, activities, and programs, that one gets out of breath just reading it. In asking one pastor why we are doing this, his reply was, “If we don’t keep them busy, the devil will!” Is the purpose of the church to keep God’s people so busy they don’t have time to get in trouble; or is it to teach them how to live the life God has given them? I’m afraid that busy-ness is now equivalent to spirituality! We see too many pastors building up the church’s activities program instead of building strong families as the means to building a strong church.
Nor have we helped ourselves. The majority of Christian families are struggling with the issue of busyness for one basic reason, a lack of discipline. And I’m not referring to punishing children for disobedience. What I mean is simply the inability to say, “No!” – a failure to properly prioritize, to recognize what is really important and what is incidental. In too many homes the incidental is crowding out the essential.
With overly full schedules, there is no time for families to just enjoy doing things with each other. Taking a quiet walk, throwing a ball, baking a batch of cookies, reading a story, building a strong relationship. Family worship has been crowded out. Mealtime has become a disaster area. Many families seldom sit down together to enjoy a well-balanced, home-cooked meal. Like many other areas, we eat on the run. Everyone has to be somewhere doing something. We can’t stand inactivity. Even the Lord’s Day is being used to do all the things we couldn’t get to during the week.
TV, videos, CD players and computers haven’t helped us either. They have done more to create restlessness than we’d like to admit. They are time-wasters for many families who don’t know how to do things together.
Is there an answer? Can we salvage something that has been taken away from us by the high-tech, high-speed society in which we live? I believe we can, but we must start with several important things. First, we must recognize what has happened to us. Stand back and take an honest look at what and where your family is. Nothing will change until you see the need. Second, determine to do something about it. Things will be no different unless you want them to be. Third, evaluate your priorities. Determine what matters and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to get rid of the incidentals. Fourth, get your direction from God, not the world. Study His Word, spend much time in prayer, seek godly counsel, and determine together as a family the changes you must make. Finally, make solid commitments and stick to them. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn back into the “rat race.” The biggest problem with the “rat race” is the rats always win – and the family always loses!
Set The Pace
Get ready, because others may not understand. You may find your family being criticized by other good Christian families, when you choose to drop out of certain activities. But remember, your family is your greatest earthly treasure, and you will answer to God for what you do with it. Don’t be afraid to be different.
I honestly believe God will bless you if you will set a sensible pace for your family. You’ll have more time for the Lord and for enjoying each other, as you relieve your family from those stress factors that you can live without.
By Jack Palmer
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA.