Once Jesus was invited to come over to a friend’s house to sit down, relax, and swap stories. One of the hostesses was a lady by the name of Martha, and she was your typically type A personality. She spent the entire morning cleaning, cooking, and preparing the house for Jesus and the other guests to arrive. Then Martha spent the whole time during the party cleaning up used plates, wiping up spills, refreshing everyone’s drink—basically running around like a chicken with her head cut off!
But her sister Mary was quite different. She spent the morning excited to see Jesus. And when He came, she plopped down and listened to everything He had to say. As Martha scurried about the house, she noticed her sister Mary relaxing and enjoying herself. And this got under Martha’s skin BIG time. If she was busy, why shouldn’t everyone else be as well? Well, Martha finally had it up to here, and she asked Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” (Luke 10:40)
Let’s be honest. We’ve all been there! Our modern life is busier than ever. Our schedule is so jam-packed with appointments, events, meetings, deadlines, goals, and pressing expectations that finding a quiet, uneventful evening is a rare luxury. And this lifestyle spills out to our families and our teens. If we’re busy, we expect our teens to stay busy as well. So we all end up like Martha, going a hundred miles an hour, and maybe even feeling resentful of those who actually have some downtime.
To Martha’s demand for help (and to our modern schedule) Jesus gave some much-needed advice. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things … [but] Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 41,42).
Jesus hit the nail right on the head, didn’t He? We’re often so busy that we tend to miss out on “the good parts” of life. We get so distracted by the marginal stress that we forget to spend time with our kids and our families, those relationships that add true value. We may be like Martha, but we need to be more like Mary.
It Starts with You
When we are burning the candle at both ends, everything in the middle starts melting. Our kids start to drift away from us. Our marriages suffer. Relationships take a hit. Before you burn out, take some time to relax and take a breath. Even God rested on the seventh day, giving us a model to follow. Set the tone for your home by initiating periods of relaxation for you and your family.
Also, remember that God hasn’t given us a family so that we can ignore them in favor of other busywork. Quite the opposite. The reason God has given you the kids you have is so that you can take the time to nurture them, love them, and spend time speaking into their lives. Often, we’re so caught up in directing our kids and providing for them that we forget that the most important gift we can give them is time.
So what does your busy schedule look like? Do you plan your calendar around what needs to happen outside your family, and give your kids the leftovers of your time? Or do you first pencil in your family, and divvy out the rest of your time to other projects? Make family your priority, and let other activities fall in behind. I realize that we’re all busy these days, and we carry the weight of a thousand different responsibilities. But your family needs your time more than they need anything else. And we’ll miss those good things with our kids if we spend all of our energy pursuing other goals.
Here’s my challenge: find one block of time on your calendar that you can give to your kids. Maybe it’s a weekly date where you and your daughter can eat ice cream and watch a movie together. Or perhaps you can carve out a couple of hours a week to take a bike ride with your son. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it’s you and your child, away from the phone, e-mail, and anything else that would try to steal your attention.
Help Your Teen
Did you know that doctors and therapists report that clinical anxiety is at an all-time high among teenagers? It’s no wonder when you think about how busy our kids can be. There’s band practice, football practice, church functions, school events, and whatever else we can cram into a 24-hour period. Our teens are infected by our busy lifestyle!
Of course, there is nothing wrong with your teen being involved in activities. I’m not knocking those things. But as parents, we need to be intentional about the activities our kids are involved in. If a teen’s schedule is too tight, something has got to give.
Growing up, my daughter was heavily involved in gymnastics. She went to every tournament and has tumbled and somersaulted in every gym in the country. But recently she told me, “I wish that wasn’t so heavily involved in gymnastics growing up. I missed out on a lot of things.”
I firmly believe that many teens are over-committed and under-nurtured. Their lives are full of activities, but they’re missing out on quality memories. If your teen comes home tired, burned out, and worn out, it’s time to intervene and help them slow down. Take a family vacation. Now, I know that many people will say, “Mark, I can’t afford a vacation!” But it’s possible you can’t afford not to! Both you and your busy teen need to take a breath, relax, and spend time making memories that last far longer than any trophies or GPA scores.
Even beyond the vacation, make your home a place of rest. Create an environment where kids can find respite, enjoyment, new experiences, and a sense of value for what matters most.
You’ll never hear someone at the end of their life say, “I wish I had been busier.” But you might hear, “I wish I had slowed down to enjoy the time I had with family.” Don’t live with the regrets of wasted time. Throw off the need to be busy 24-7, and grab hold of what Jesus said were “the good parts.” You and your teen will be glad you did.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, radio host, and the founder and director of Heartlight, located in Hallsville, Texas. For more information and helpful resources for moms and dads, check out our website. It’s filled with ideas and tools to help you become a more effective parent. Go to www.heartlightministries.org. Or read other helpful articles by Mark, at www.markgregston.com. You can also call Heartlight directly at (903) 668-2173. Hear the Parenting Today’s Teens broadcast on a radio station near you, or download the podcast at www.parentingtodaysteens.org.