Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Simple May Be Better

Jackie and I were flying back and forth to the Midwest last week. We usually bring things to read on the plane and I was reading a book that discussed how if churches were to intentionally become simpler they would perhaps actually accomplish more. However, at one point in the flight I looked up to also see a man near me reading a book called The 36 Hour Day.

I thought, "What a contrast!" A simpler life vs adding even more hours to our day so to speak. Hmm. . . I decided right then that I really don't want to have a 36 hour day. My twenty-four hour one is quite long enough thank you.

I wonder how many families wish they could pack just a little more into each day. And would it help? I'm not sure it would. Have we simply added more activity to our lives but less meaning and significance? Will we say ten to fifteen years from now, "Gee, I wish we would have been busier!" I doubt it.

My hunch is that many of us will be lamenting that there was too much time spent in the car going from place to place and not enough time looking each other in the eye, playing together or simply talking about life. I have a feeling we'll wonder where the time went and then wish we had stopped and just done nothing a little bit more, which would actually be doing something important.

We need time to connect again. No, I'm not suggesting we go back to the 1800's. We can't. And we shouldn't. We live today and must try to live life to the fullest in that context. However, what if all of our activity isn't really where true life can be found? What if simpler were better in some ways?

Of course there is no one template on time that will fit every home and family. We have different numbers of children, unique interests and varying job and school demands. However, have we ever compared our goals and real dreams for our marriages and children with the actual time we give towards their fulfillment?

For example, if you as a married couple want your marriage to become more intimate in body, soul and spirit, where you don't just live together but grow together, then ask yourself, "How much time in a week do we give to that goal?" When do you seriously talk, do you have time to enjoy one another physically, do you have fun together, do you think about spiritual things?

If you can't come up with many ways to answer those questions you probably need to re-arrange some things in your schedule, quit some others and figure out how you're going to become more intimate.

Or if as parents, you want your kids to enjoy time as a family, learn about spiritual things, remember some special moments you enjoyed together and the like, ask yourself, "Does our schedule encourage those things or take away from them?" Do our kids need to be in all the activities they're in, do we need to work as much as we do, are we ever intentional about reaching these goals or do we just expect them to happen?

When our son Tim was in the 8th grade, we were given an opportunity to spend a week in Colorado. It was around that time that I suddenly realized that he was only going to be actively in our home for another five years or so. And while we'd done some good things, I think, as parents and certainly spent time together I decided that I needed to consider doing something with him that he would never forget.

So that summer in Colorado we climbed our first 14er (a mountain over 14,000' of which there are fifty -two in Colorado). It was challenging, dangerous at times, but a blast. I'll never forget it and neither will he. I committed to doing three mountains like that before he graduated from high school. And you know what? We did four and at least one since then, including our last with him, his wife and my daughter. I'm so glad we decided to be intentional rather than just hoping it would happen.

To do that however, we had to simplify in some other areas. We had to decide to give up some other activities that the kids could have done, some other personal pursuits and work commitments that we could have taken on so that we could reach that intentional goal to do something special together.

I challenge you as married couples or parents to do the same. Your goals and ways of reaching them don't need to be the same as ours or anyone else's but you'll be glad you slowed down and focused on what really matters.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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