The following excerpt is taken from my daughter's blog. It speaks to an area of concern I often have considered. "Muse" along with us!
One thing I simply have to comment on in regards to the weekend outreach activities is my appreciation for the couple who headed up the children's programs at 2pm & 3pm yesterday and today. They did such a great job with planning and preparing, involving a number of children, and then presenting skits and songs and games. I sat there knowing firsthand just how tired their 3 young children were (like Daniel and I, they will celebrate 6 years of marriage this October and are expecting #4 this year) and exactly how many hours of their weekend were spent on these events, and I was very challenged by their sacrifice.
To be brutally honest, if someone like Daniel had asked me to oversee such programs, my first response would have been, "2 and 3pm? Are you crazy??? Don't you know that's my kids' naptime? Sorry, buddy." And even if I'd gotten past that point, I doubt I would have found a way to write skits and stories, prepare children for acting and costumes for children, thought through games and prizes, etc. But that was not their response.
Not at all.
They responded with enthusiasm and energy and then they went above and beyond what Daniel had asked for. And even in moments like when their not-yet-2-year-old was crying because of spent emotions and too little sleep, there were still smiles on their faces and expectation of good in their words.
It reminded me of a very wise man's challenge to Daniel a couple years ago: "How are you doing with leading your family in sacrifice?" I remember when Daniel shared that question with me, struck by the word in when I might have inappropriately chosen the word through. I was challenged because he was right and I was wrong. After all, the call to discipleship doesn't ask us to simply cheerfully endure the sacrifices (even this is often challenging for me, I confess), but to go so far as to look for opportunities to die to self.
I tend to be so over-protective of our family boundaries and I'm often afraid and hesitant to place demands on Gabriel, Bronwyn, and Jackson for the sake of local church and Kingdom work; and yet I simultaneously want my children to grow up with a willingness and eagerness to give of themselves. If my example to them is one of self-preservation-- even in the name of family-- how can I expect them to serve beyond what comes easily and pleasantly to their flesh? And who better to teach and lead them in sacrifice than their very own mom and dad?
At any rate, I applaud this family for their tireless work over the weekend. Not only were many small children blessed by their efforts, but this wife and mom was convicted and refreshed in a vision to sacrifice as a family-- gladly and cheerfully!-- for the Lord and His bride.
Great thoughts and observations, Bri! Here are some of my own along those same lines.
One of the pitfalls (as I see it) in a strong message on family is the tendency to respond by "hunkering down" to the point of non-active service in the kingdom. It's true that we need to have our minds renewed regarding the need to invest in children and families. Guarding our time and energy so that our children have all they need is necessary. Knowing boundaries is, therefore, essential - but, having set our boundaries, we must also then be willing to abandon those very boundaries from time to time for the sake of sacrificial service.
Being encouraged to love and good works, knowing how to sacrifice in service to the church, and continuing in giving above and beyond what is comfortable is the flip side of focusing on family. We must understand and practice both sides of the coin.
Kids learn to sacrifice for the church and the brethren when they've seen it, tasted it, loved it, and practiced it themselves. Nothing can replace modeling it before them, then doing it as a family, and finally, releasing them to it. Much as we all would like the world to go away at times so that we can just live life simply (at least, admittedly, that has been the cry of this mother's heart at times), we are called to serve the kingdom and the local church as well as our homes.
Learning to hear His voice becomes essential. Messages of family investment and then a call to local church service seemingly contradict, pulling us in two different directions. "What is too much? What is too little? Can someone just tell me how many hours or activities are allowed?"
Nope. It's not that simple. You are you and I am me. How we function, what we can accomplish, and what we should
accomplish are not the same. So don't feel condemned by what someone else is or isn't doing. Find challenge, yes. Feel freshly inspired, of course. Glean ideas and ponder anew what your family is focusing on, practicing, and sacrificing. And then do with confidence what He is asking you to do.
And remember, these two claims on our time and energy are not incompatible. Serving cheerfully and sacrificially side by side with your children not only kills two birds with one stone, providing inestimable opportunity for teaching and building relationship as well as fulfilling much needed ministry, it also leads them automatically (well, almost...) into a sense of accomplishment and purpose in His kingdom, cementing in their hearts a determination to serve Him always. They grow in a sense of value and worth as well as a love for Him as they see His blessing upon their labors.
Know the seasons, be sensitive to your family's true needs, sacrifice regularly with a cheerful heart, and regroup when needed. Make boundaries, but be flexible with them.
Sounds contradictory? I don't know if you've noticed, but many things in the kingdom can appear that way. I guess that's why He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. His true sons are lead by the Spirit - we'd be lost without Him on this one!