Being “With” vs. Being “At”
Yesterday at Second Chance Church, I continued the series of messages we’re doing inspired by “Soul Surfer“. In light of the fact that it was Mother’s Day, the focus was on how to raise kids that can respond the the difficult moments of life with the same faith-inspired tenacity that Bethany Hamilton had after losing her arm to a shark.
We read the time honored passage from Deuteronomy 6 where Moses began to instruct the Israelites how to live in the Promised Land and how to raise their children in a way that they would remember, love and serve God. I offered the following three main ideas from the passage. Your children should:
- Experience God with you.
- See you sacrifice for the cause of Christ
- Serve beside you.
Number 1 and number 3 got me thinking about something. Both of those require time together. Time is one of the most precious commodities we have at our disposal….and the world we live in seems to require more and more of it. As a result, the last several decades have seen parents talk about “quality” time with their kids rather than “quantity”. It seems to me that it’s always the parents who define what quality time is, not the kids.
And with the emphasis in our society becoming more and more child-focused, parents now feel obligated to have their children in ever-increasing numbers of extra-curricular activities…sports, dancing, scouts, clubs, music, gymnastics, etc.
The resulting dynamic is that parents turn into little more than shuttle-service drivers but often feel justified because they are giving their kids a “better opportunity” than they had themselves. They tend to define this as quality time because they “attend” the events or the practices, therefore, they are being a good parent.
While some of this is commendable and understandable, it creates a startling distinction that is the title of this article. Being “AT” something FOR your child, is not the same as being WITH your child. According to the teaching of Moses in the passage from Deuteronomy, the only way to truly raise our children to remember, love, and serve God is by being WITH them, doing it together. That becomes quality time. Not only because you are together, but because you are instilling in them the only thing that will ever truly last.
If you’re a Christian parent, do yourself and your kids a favor. Ask God to show you how to spend more time “with” your kids, and less time “at” the things they do. Your family and the cause of Christ will be the better for it.