A Profile of an Actually Spiritual Family (1)

[NOTE: If you’re following this 3-part rambling, you’ll know it is from a response I gave to a good dad in our church who felt that perhaps he was committing idolatry because he sacrificed so much for his family and loved them so intensly and actively. So he wrote me, and much of what follows about “actually spiritual families” is my encourgement to him.]

First, the actually spiritual family has the courage to prioritize people and relationships, and they don’t think the one they’re in, which tops their list of priorities, is a hindrance. You can call me crazy, but I have actually met people who have told me things like, “If it weren’t for my kids, I’d have a much better ministry for the Lord.” Or, “As soon as I get this kid raised, I can move on to more important things for God.” Or here’s my favorite: “My spouse/children just doesn’t/don’t understand how much I love ministry.” Hey idiot – yes they do! And that’s what got them righteously ticked. They feel replaced. Perhaps expendable. For sure in second place. And not to Jesus, but to things about Jesus (i.e., ministry, events, etc.). So for starters, if you’re thinking you should feel guilty for being such a good dad, don’t. Those sacrifices you’re making are no doubt your best moments of worship to God and his Son Jesus, and your kids are really seeing a picture of their Heavenly Father’s love and commitment.

I personally believe the nano-second we think our family (assuming it is the normal, biblically-based but humanly-stained family I know this man’s was) is keeping us from serving God, the real problem is inside us, not inside our family. Years ago I had similar thoughts about my situation, and God showed me the real error was in my selfish and abnormal thinking, not in the other normal people and seasons of life that comprise this thing we call family life. I am deep-down glad God rescued me from such an evil mindset.

Here’s the reality someone should scream at all engaged couples before they say “I do” and get in bed to make babies: When kids come along, they need a dad. A mom. For children, a family is not a luxury; it is a necessity. To think you can keep the same schedule you had when you were “singly-married” (that’s what Julie and I called ourselves before we had kids) and be a good dad or mom is insanely stupid. Your kids need you. They want you. And you need them and should want them. That “needing” and “wanting,” which is very normal and actually very spiritual, takes time. God designed it that way from the beginning. You have to be with them, which means you will need to NOT be other places and with other people sometimes. Probably a lot of times.

So hear it again — the actually spiritual family has the courage to prioritize people and relationships, and they know the most important one is the one they’re in, for that is the one they will answer to God for. Sure, you’ll feel humanly guilty at times because you’re comparing your lifestyle to the one you had BK (before kids). But comparing kills, so stop. Bottom line? When we start thinking our family, a gift from God that he calls a treasure, prevents us from the mission of Jesus instead of realizing they actually help protect us from the enemies of Jesus, we are way wrong! Wicked wrong! So the first thing to do is ask God to forgive us for thinking and acting wrongly and agree to adopt his values and perspective. In a word, repent of thinking our family is in the way of God’s blessing and realize our family is the way of God’s blessing. That’s what actually spiritual families do.

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