I am sure you would agree that as we get older time seems to be going faster. I know I’m not the only dad who regularly feels that there are just not enough hours in the day!
Many of the men reading this may be very good at managing their time. For me, this isn’t a strength. However, as a husband and father, I know that I am responsible to manage my time well. Otherwise, life becomes absolutely hectic and unbearably busy.
I have found that deliberate planning and intentional prioritizing helps. When life gets too fast-paced, priorities get jumbled and important things are neglected. But, with the Lord’s help, there is much I can do to make things more manageable and peaceable again. I often remind myself that there are always enough hours in the day to do God’s will!
So here are a few simple suggestions that may help you develop a family vision (if you haven’t done so already). For our family, this takes place through intermittent family vision discussions. I will give you the loose format we follow, and you can adjust things according to your family’s needs.
OPENING PRAYER & FEEDBACK
We begin with a time of prayer in which we commit our time to the Lord and ask for His wisdom. We then discuss how things are going in general. What is working? What isn’t? What specific struggles, prayer needs, and problems need to be addressed? We also share our victories and growth and then thank God together.
This is also a time for me to be real with my children, sharing how I have failed and where I am seeking God’s help. Children can tolerate a lot of their father’s mistakes, but not consistent hypocrisy.
DOCUMENTING THE FAMILY VISION
I have a notebook in which I document our fluid family vision. It includes a list of those things we consider to be family priorities that are in line with God’s leading and call upon our lives. We also include the activities and actions that are the outworking of those priorities. So, at this point, our list looks a bit like this:
I then write out some more details for each heading. For example:
What is the whole point of this? Well, after covering the home education basics (reading, writing, and math), we want our curriculum to flow from our family vision, rather than be something separate from it.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NKJV).
Once our main priorities and activities have been noted, we evaluate the value, benefit, and necessity of our current use of time. This is where we see the importance of having a family vision. Where do you feel that God wants you, as a family, to serve Him? On what areas does He want you to focus? What gifts has God given to your children? How do you each feel burdened to serve God? Have certain activities contributed towards your family vision or distracted you from it? Answering these questions may take some time, but can lead to a draft copy of your family’s vision. From then on, you will just need to make minor adjustments.
Having done this, we shuffle whatever we need to in our lives, prioritizing those things which need more time and attention. Will one less weekly activity alleviate your wife’s exhaustion? Will time spent serving or ministering in a nursing home help your children become less self-centered? Is a weekly commitment to help someone out causing us to neglect something of greater importance? The answers will be different for everyone. MOVING FROM THE “WHY” TO THE “HOW”
If something new is to be implemented, how will it happen and when will it take place? If something is to be eliminated from the family schedule, when and how will that be done? I would suggest diarising another time to sit down as a family and reevaluate your vision, tweaking it where necessary. I only managed to do this about four times this year, but if I hadn’t aimed to do it more, it probably wouldn’t have happened at all! The goal is not perfection, but direction. Without that direction, we may just slip back into a hectic pace of life, with no real sense of purpose or goal.
When we have an established family vision, we can evaluate new opportunities, activities, and events in light of that family vision. That makes it a lot easier to make a decision, and will save a lot of unnecessary hassle later on.
Lastly, if initiating and leading these kinds of discussions sounds daunting, let me encourage you to start where you are. Ask God for the necessary courage. Perhaps begin by communicating your desire to your wife. Seek her support. Getting the family together in this way may feel awkward at first, but over time it will become easier. Your wife and children will come to appreciate it. Aim to make it an encouraging, inspiring, and special time. Know that God is with you.
I hope this article has been an encouragement to some of you dads!