“[DisneyWorld’s] competition is anyone who raises customer expectations- because if someone else satisfies customers better than [them], no matter what type of business, [they] suffer by comparison.”
It happens all the time. You see an entire family in co-ordinating outfits, no one is arguing, dad isn’t glued to his cell phone, mom doesn’t look like the poster child for frump. They’re talking and giggling and everyone is polite. Then you glance over to your motley crew and wonder if anyone remembered to comb their hair or how they got out the door wearing mis-matched shoes. A thought enters your mind; sometimes briefly, sometimes it lingers…. ‘why can’t we be like them?’
I want to make it very clear that I am not an advocate of the comparison game. I think all families are unique and that while co-ordinating outfits are heavenly in some families they are a fate worse than death in others. When I talk about raising the bar in my family it’s not to show up other families, or try to keep up with other families. When I talk about raising the bar I mean it in terms of light versus darkness. If I don’t put effort and energy into shepherding my children towards Christ then the world will shepherd them away. That’s the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ for me.
The first lesson taught to the visiting business folk in “Inside the Magic Kingdom” is this: The competition is anyone the customer compares you with.
The fact is that in this competitive society the devil has a step up. So much of what he promotes is easy and fun, flashy, appealing, and what one would naturally choose to do. As a Christian parent it’s my job to reclaim that fun for Christ. It’s a competition, or if you prefer a battle; either way it is definitely not something we’re called to be passive bystanders to. The Word is constantly compared to the World.
There are two places in my life and home where I need to take a stand and fight the competition. The first is what we’re consuming. And the second is making sure that the effort I put in behind my front door matches the effort I put in outside my front door.
This year I am at the helm of our weekly Kids Club at church and that means I spend time on it. Making sure volunteers are in place and ready, taking care of the details for special event nights, preparing a weekly Bible Story time that is engaging and academic. It’s creating a vision, casting a vision and most importantly spending time on my knees for the ministry.
Aside from one great PA day where we started the day off with pancakes and Bible Stories and a few months where we did devotions at dinner I pretty much suck at intentionally teaching my kids about Christ. I’ll confess that I bought into the lie that it doesn’t really matter; they are taught lessons at Sunday School and Kids Club and I correct them when they’re out of line. It sounds like that is what goes on in most families, I must be doing okay.
Recently the attitudes in our house started stinking. No one is choosing helpful, selfless, encouraging, or even polite attitudes towards each other when we’re at home. In public my children are pretty great, and there is no shortage of people to tell me that, but at home…. well…. let’s just say we need an attitude adjustment.
This is one area that I don’t have any solutions for- YET. In the summer I tried having the kids listen to Adventures in Odyssey and drawing/journalling while they were listening. It didn’t quite catch on. I mentioned the one Bible Story breakfast, and the devotions we’ve strayed away from. I think I want to work at getting all of those things back into our routine. If the Word is to be our Daily Bread it makes sense to me that we would partake of it as often as we would eat. I’m going to have to work on a plan for that as our mealtimes are rushed and often single-parented and my children still need a lot of food serving and cutting and cleaning up spills. Most minutes in our day are already accounted for, but not many are set aside for Christ- and that’s out of balance with our priorities.
I want my children to see that I am putting effort into their Spiritual Training, just like I do for Kids Club, and so I am reclaiming Saturday mornings from laziness and being glued to the TV. (I wanted to start last Saturday, but a head cold knocked me down and out, see it’s a battle!) I’ve decided to go with the lessons from Focus on the Family- Kids of Integrity. They are already laid out, passages picked and activity choices. I decided to go with them because they speak to attitudes and relationships. A place to start while we create routine and habit.
My answer to this challenge is definitely ‘in progress’. I don’t have any best practices at the moment or inspiring stories to share. But I do know that when I am faithful to what God has called me to, He is faithful to show up. I know that because of one day I took a stand against ordering in pizza and watching a movie over dinner and instead made the food and ate all together and talked. And talked about God. Three more little souls entered the Family of God- He is faithful to draw near to us when we draw near to Him.
This is one area where I could get bogged down in that I don’t have it figured out, see it like a failure. But instead I choose grace and simply say: “Challenge Accepted.”
How about you? What do you do at your house to raise the bar on what the World has to offer? To intentionally shepherd your kids in the way they should go?