Our lesson with Andy Stanley today included comments from his wife Sandra as they discussed several areas of marriage and family life and the guardrails they have built in their own relationship and family. Andy mentioned that the guardrail principle is found in Proverbs 27:12: "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." Andy argues that the prudent Christian, the wise man will be able to discern threats and danger to his life and lifestyle and will take refuge or will build guardrails to prevent him from reaching the abyss or the point of disaster. Andy says that we need guardrails in every area where we have an appetite or desires. This would include the financial arena--our spending, saving, and giving habits, sexual integrity--our visual, physical, and emotional desires, family time and commitment to family, and any other area where we may experience temptation.
I felt like many of you would relate to this week's lesson because it makes reference to the season of life in which many of you find yourselves. You are trying to raise young children and attempting to spend quality time and meet their needs. At the same time, you are trying to build successful careers and you are trying to earn comfortable livings for your families. These goals often create contradictory demands on your time and energy.
One of the most important things I heard in the lesson today was the comment which Andy quoted from a seminar that he and Sandra once attended. "Kids are a welcome addition to the family. However, we should be striving for a marriage-centered family, NOT a child-centered family." In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes made by young Christian families. Given our love for our kids and our desire to see them excel in all endeavors, we often tend to make them the center of the universe, and if not the universe, at least the center of our family. This creates pressure on the marriage and the family and does not do justice to the child. As Andy Stanley said in today's lesson, the greatest gift one can give to their children is a great marriage. As such, you and your spouse need to take time to nurture your marriage. This includes periodic date nights, trips together in which the kids are not involved, frequent breaks in which the parents have the opportunity to talk, re-group, and enjoy a short respite from the challenges of responding to young children all day and all night long.
Having said that, it is important to understand that our family needs our time also. Therefore, it is critically important that BOTH parents develop strategies that allow them to spend quality time with young children. Sandra quoted a great scripture from Nehemiah in describing how she had to prioritize and was forced to turn down some opportunities to ensure sufficient family time together. The scripture was Nehemiah 6:3: "I am doing a great thing and I cannot come down." Nehemiah was focused on a great work and he refused to be distracted from this great work. Likewise, you are doing a great work with your children. Each of us should commit ourselves to focusing on this great work and refuse to be distracted by outside distractions.
Join us again next week when Andy discusses our financial habits.
REMINDER: MARK THE DATE!!! OUR AFTER CHURCH SWIMMING PARTY IS SCHEDULED AT THE EMERALD FOREST POOL ON JUNE 5, 2011. EVERYONE IS ASKED TO BRING A LUNCH AND DESSERT. WE HAVE SET UP TABLES IN THE PAST AND SHARED DISHES AND ENJOYED LUNCH AND FELLOWSHIP INSIDE THE CLUBHOUSE. THE POOL WILL BE OPEN FROM 12:45 P.M.--2:45 P.M. WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY THERE.