Hide and Seek is a fun game we play as children. Usually one person is “It” and the rest of the people hide and “It” tries to find them. An alternative game is called ‘Sardines’ where only one person hides, and everyone else tries to find “It” and hides with him until there’s only one person left alone.

“Ready or Not, Here I come!”

But hide and seek is not a good way to be a family. Too many families have family members who stay hidden and away way too long.

Families spend an average of just 8 hours a week together. Weekend is best with 2:20 together. Weekdays it is just 36 minutes together. And even when they are together, 7/10 parents say the time is spent silent in front of the TV.

According to MSU, a strong family finds opportunities to balance quality time and quantity time. The more time you spend together, the better chance you have of sharing quality time together. Eating meals together, talking about the events of the day, sharing joys and defeats, doing household chores together or just spending evenings popping corn and watching movies are times to spend together. Some families even schedule one evening a week for special family activities.

Do you often wish you could spend more time as a family? More quality time? But how can we balance our time to give priority to the things that are important? Like hide-in-seek, too many of us are nowhere around.

I think there are three reasons why we let our busy schedule crowds out time with our family:

  1. The urgent takes priority over the important. Time with family is important. But the phone call at work, the emails that need to be returned, and the desire to make more and do more now seem much more urgent. We can always spend time with the kids later, we think.
  2. We’re all people-pleasers. We don’t want to let others down and it is hard to say ‘no.’ We get trapped by what others want us to do.
  3. We each have our own agenda. We all have things we want to do. So we say yes to what we want and fill our calendars. Our individual agenda often wins out over family agenda. We do want we want to do and our family misses out.

What kind of family are we to have? What should we do?

We find an example in the Old Testament. As the nation of Israel was ready to enter the Promised Land, God gave instructions to the family.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses restated the Ten Commandments. Then he talked about family life in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Child training begins in the parents’ lives.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is called the Shema. It is as familiar to a Jew as John 3:16 is to Christians. Notice what it communicates:

  1. There is a God.
  2. There is only One God.
  3. Our God is that One.
  4. Our God deserves our best devotion.

This is addressed to parents. The older generation is to model devotion to God themselves. Parents set the example for the children. Their heart, soul and strength set the pattern of action that will follow. The best way to learn how to follow God is to have a parent who sets the example.

Isn’t it interesting that the objective of family has little to do with education or skill, but rather heart. The goal is not knowledge, material things, or success. The goal is love for God. Because when your relationship with God is okay, everything else will fall into place.

Family Time - ClockLove is spelled T-I-M-E.

To avoid another lost generation lost in the wilderness, God spoke to the family. His plan for a strong nation was to have strong families. This advice is the foundation for a strong home. To create a strong family life, there must be shared time together.

Deuteronomy 6:6 talks about instruction in God’s Word. It is important that God’s Word becomes a central part of our family conversation and activity. It is not the Sunday School teacher or church ministry or Christian school that has the responsibility, but the parents who are to communicate God’s Word.

And notice where God’s Word is located – the heart. It is not just head knowledge, but heart knowledge. It is not just memorization, but meditation. This is not a micro-wave, but a crock-pot. It takes time to grow to be a mature believer. And parents have 18 years to allow God’s Word to form in children’s lives.

At first glance, it seems like the ideas presented to the Jews in Deuteronomy 6:7-9 just won’t work today. If you are a parent, this may seem a little over-the-top. However I think there are two important reasons to prioritize your time with your children.

  1. You greatly diminish the possibility of your children’s involvement in sinful, destructive behavior in the future. The psalmist said, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might sin against you.” (Ps. 119:11). God’s Word will keep a child from sin. We don’t want our children to become an alcoholic, commit a crime, addicted to pornography or abuse a spouse. But God’s Word in the heart of a child (and in ours) will protect against sin. If you could do something to keep your child from sin, wouldn’t it be worth it. The rest of Deuteronomy 6 tells how.
  1. You greatly increase the possibility of your grandchildren’s salvation and eternal destiny in Heaven. Here’s the question: What kind of family life will you need so that your children will have the kind of family life that results in your grandchildren trusting in God? Psalm 78:6-7 tells us to teach God’s Word so that “the generation to come might know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” You are not just raising a child. You are training a parent. The pattern you set will become the pattern of your grandchildren’s home.

So what does Deuteronomy 6:7-9 say:

All the Time, Everywhere

“When you lie down” – Talk about God at bedtime. Read or listen to the Bible or devotion. Ask them, “How did things go today?”

“When you rise up” – Begin the day with God. Besides giving thanks at breakfast, give your child a Bible verse or word for the day.

“When you sit in your house” – Thank God for blessings. Pray for needs and cares. Family prayer and time together affirms that God is most important in our lives.

Planned Time. Specific Time. Spontaneous Time. Any Time.

Life begins because two people spend some time together. God’s plan has been and always will be that real life is meant to be spent together. That takes time. Time spent with your family is time well spent.

Don’t be an absent member of your family.

One night a father told his daughter to brush her teeth. When she refused he asked her why she was so difficult and she presented him with a list of 22 landmark events in her life that he had missed because of work, including her first day of school, a Halloween parade, her first soccer game of the year, and many recitals. He had an excuse for everyone but realized that he had been gone too long. So Mohamed el-Erian decided to quit his job of CEO of PIMCO a $2 trillion investment fund and spend time with his wife and daughter. Erian said he kept a grueling schedule, sleep 9pm -1am, write until 4:30am, hit the trading floor until he got to the office at 9am. In 2011 he made $100 million.

Now, I don’t think we all should quit our job so we can spend more time with our family. That is unreasonable and for most of us, irresponsible. But I think we do need to revisit how we spend our time and make sure we are making our priorities our time priorities.

For some of my other articles about the family, check out these: Family Feud, Simon Says, 3 Keys to Effective Communication.