If you are a regular churchgoer, no doubt you’ve heard some variation of the following sermon on “busyness”:

We Christians get so busy doing “good things” for God that we neglect our relationship with God. It’s easy to spend such a large amount of time attending church, visiting small groups, singing in choirs, cooking food for baby-having friends, serving on committees, etc. that we run out of time for important practices that draw us closer to God–things like Bible-reading time, devotional time, prayer time, or quiet time. Obviously, doing “good things” like attending church or singing in choirs aren’t bad practices in and of themselves (I personally view the practice of preparing and taking meals to friends who’ve recently had a baby as a holy sacrament.). The problem is this: the more that we neglect our relationship with God, the less powerful and/or effective our “good things” become.

Yes, I just condensed the 45 minute “busyness sermon” into a far less impactful handful of run-on sentences. You’re welcome. Hopefully the underlying message still changed your life. Anyhow, allow me to put a different spin on this sermon…

Fellow parents: we face a similar problem when it comes to raising children. As my kids get older, I’m noticing all to well how easy it is to fall into the trap of busyness. I don’t know about you other parents out there, but sometimes I get so busy doing “good things” for my kids that I neglect things that build relationships with them. It’s easy to spend such a large amount of time enrolling for sports, cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing dishes, shopping for clothes, scheduling appointments, working extra hours to pay for [insert item children want here], etc. that we run out of time or energy for important relationship-building activities like family dinners, bedtime stories, uninterrupted-by-cell-phone car conversations, uninterrupted-by-cell-phone [insert any activity here], or one-on-one prayer time. Obviously, doing “good things” for our kids isn’t a bad practice in and of itself. We all want our kids to succeed (or, at a minimum, it’d be nice if they ate off of clean plates). The problem is this: the more that we neglect spending time on the things that build our relationships with our kids, the less effective we become at raising healthy kids.

To sum it up another way, here’s what I feel like God has been telling me lately. Perhaps you can learn something from it as well.

Dear Josh,

Focus less on doing laundry or cleaning house or searching the Internet for the best decorating ideas for your kids’ rooms. Your spiritual gift is not decorating. Focus more on facilitating conversations at family dinner or reading bedtime stories or playing catch. Also, get off of your cell phone.