Christian Living

Family Basics – Vision and Priorities

We all have visions in our lives, whether we know it or not. Do you need some examples?

I will do everything I can to get that next promotion. Your vision = the promotion
I need to work some overtime to help pay the bills again this month. Your vision = to pay the bills on time
I want to be a better dad than my dad was. Your vision = to be a better parent
Mom and Dad said I have to get a job before I can get a car. Your vision = to buy a car

We have visions for our kids. These are evidenced by how we talk about them everyday.

Johnny will make a great baseball player one day.
Susie has a great singing voice.
My kids won’t behave like that.

We have visions for our families. Our daily routines and activities are signs as to what those visions are.

Yeah, I have to work late again. I’ll spend time with you and the kids on Saturday.
It’s rainy and foggy today. Let’s just sleep in instead of going to church.
No, I can’t schedule those meetings on Thursday nights. That is my night at home.
Don’t forget to bath the kids and iron clothes. We want to be on-time for Sunday school in the morning.

In his book Visioneering, author and pastor Andy Stanley shares his heart with parents.

Moms, Dads, we are the premier visioncasters. We must paint a vividly clear picture in the minds and hearts of our children of what they can become in their character, conduct, and even their careers. We must pour into their spongelike souls a vision of what they could accomplish with their lives… We must ask God to give us a clear vision for our children and cast it every opportunity we get.

Part of the buildup to these statements involves his declaration that we all cast vision for the people around us. Every word we say, every comment we make, is a positive or negative deposit into that person’s self-image. “So in a way, we are all visioncasters. Every relationship is a potential visioncasting opportunity.” We must understand that we are, in one way or another, casting vision for ourselves, our family, our marriage, our children, with every decision that we make. We do it with every statement that comes out of our mouths.

Now, honestly, I do not really know you. I cannot say what God is doing in you, or your family, or your children, or your workplace. But He is doing, or wants to do, something. So allow me to give you a picture of priorities that you may have heard a hundred times before. But I want you to write it in the flap of your Bible, or in your Palm Pilot, on a scrap of paper you can tuck into the frame of your mirror. Remind yourself of these priorities, not changing the order because there is no other order for them. If you keep this mind at each turn, your decision-making process will become easier, and so your visioncasting will start to take a biblical shape.

My priorities in life are:

– God

God spoke to Moses, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt where you were slaves. You must not have any other gods except me” (Exodus 20:2-3, NCV). In an effort to trick Jesus, teachers of the Law came and asked Him which were the greatest commandments? Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength’” (Mark 12:29-30, NCV).
Each and every one of us must know Him, truly know Him for ourselves. And He must be the first priority in our lives.

Well, I love my family, and I don’t think God will look down on me when I choose to be with them instead of going to church. Do you know how Paul would respond to that? “Fools – what has bewitched you?”
God said no other gods except Him. Anything placed above Him is a god sitting in His rightful place. And that is idolatry.

This is point 1 out of 5. It’s a lot plainer on paper. Anything above God in your list is out of place.

– Family

That said, God gave you a family. Maybe your not married; you have parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters, don’t you? He put us in a family for a reason.

We cannot survive this life alone. I know I couldn’t do it alone. I could not even be a parent all by myself. But do you remember something said in an earlier posting about love? Deep within us we want both to love and to be loved. We are made to love. Other than in God, where can you find love outside of a family? True love. Remember, this is love without condition and love without measure.

God deserves first place. But our family must take second chair. To put anything in its place is to fail in loving without condition and without measure.

– Work

So someone out there has to be thinking, But, man, I need to provide for my family. I have firsthand knowledge of what is like to be with my family, out of work and struggling to pay the bills. I also know what it is like to work like a dog, seemingly non-stop, and still not have the bills paid. Jesus asked whether it was good to gain the whole world and lose your own soul. I ask, is it good to gain the whole world and lost your family?

Do you need that Toyota Land Cruiser? Won’t a Kia Sportage do? Do you need a 25 room house, hire a maid to clean it, and landscapers to mow and trim the hedges? What about a bungalow? Why not have your two sons share a room for a while – they’ll have to do it in college anyway.

What are you working for? Did you lose your family because you weren’t home enough, so the kids got attached to the youth pastor instead of you? Or were you so concerned about keeping up a certain style of living that you started three businesses out of your home that keep you wrapped up all weekend and all summer that the whole family missed out on being a family?

– Ministry

Well, you must have heard by now that God has given you talents and abilities. If you haven’t, He did. You probably know what they are; teaching (or training), singing or other forms of music, being gracious, having a home people feel welcome and invited in. These are just a few examples.

But God did not give you your abilities and talents to make you rich. He called you to be part of a Body. You were planted in your church for a purpose, not to keep a pew warm. You cannot eliminate the local body of Christ from your priorities. To do is to neglect God’s greater purpose for your life.

– Myself

Well, if you are concerned that you got the short end of the deal here, that you to have yourself last before everybody else, I hate to tell you but you missed a lot. And that’s not your fault. That is way this priority list has been communicated for years. Still, think about you have gained by putting your priorities in this order.

You have a relationship with the living God who created the universe, and made you special and for His own. In doing so, you have eternal life with the only One that can give that to you.

You also have surrounded yourself with a family that you love and returns that love to you. You have companionship and intimacy with a spouse you are committed to. You have a legacy, a trophy of sorts, in your children.

You have a position in a workplace that not only helps you pay the bills, but that, because of your previous priorities, you are salt and light in. You stand out because you go home at night to be with your family. You shine because you have the Spirit of God in you. You find accomplishment in putting your hands, your mind, towards completing something, even if it is for someone else.

And you have greater fulfillment in being part of a larger cause, the Church of Christ. You see souls saved, discipled, and stepping out on their own in Christ. You worship, you study the Word, and you know that you have others to support you in the Body.

Now, take time for yourself. Recharge, rest, grow, relax. No one is telling you cannot do those things. But find a way to take emotional and spiritual “power naps.” Don’t lose out on the rest of the blessings waiting for you because you need a “break.”