As you can see, we’re going to have some fun today. This is the third message in our series called Family Vacation. And I’m joining you on video today because my family is actually on vacation right now. But even though this message is on video, we’re still going to have some fun today. And I’ve got a Word for you today that has been rocking me.
In this series, we’re talking about this crazy thing called the family. And even the mention of the word “family” causes everyone in this room to conjure up different images in their mind. Every family is different. Every family has unique challenges. But the stuff we’re going to talk about today applies across the board.
If you are a parent, if you are single, but you hope to one day get married and have kids, if you are married but don’t have kids yet, if you are a single parent, if you are a stepparent…this message is for you.
I hope today encourages you, but I’ll be honest…I also hope it messes you up. I actually hope some of this message makes you uncomfortable, because that’s how things change in our lives. When we become uncomfortable with the way things are.
So let’s get this party started.If you are a parent, repeat after me. And I know it might be a little awkward since this is on video, but let’s do it anyway.
Repeat after me…I am, an irreplaceable presence, in the life of my child.
Do you really believe that, mom? Do you really believe that, dad?
As you can see, I wear glasses, because I have terrible eyesight. In fact, my eye doctor told me a few weeks ago that I’m on the borderline of needing bifocals…and I’m 36 years old!
But not only do I have glasses, but I also have prescription sunglasses. And if you’ve ever bought prescription sunglasses, you know they’re not cheap. So I’ve never lost them. Never sat on them. I always know where they are. I always take care of them.
My wife is another story. She doesn’t need prescription sunglasses because she isn’t blind like me. She can wear shades off of the clearance rack at Wal-Mart. If she loses them, we’re out like $2. So guess what? She’s gone through several pairs of sunglasses while I have had just the one. And I love her dearly, but there are times that I honestly think she loses them just so she can get a new pair!
What’s the difference between her sunglasses and mine? The replaceability. My sunglasses are very costly to replace, so I have no choice but to take care of them. Nicki’s can be very easily and inexpensively replaced, so it really doesn’t matter that much.
How you treat something is usually directly proportional to how replaceable it is.
Now, take that truth and apply it to your family. Think about this in the context of your parenting. There is one thing you have right now that is absolutely, positively irreplaceable. Once it’s gone, you can never get it back.
Time. Your time is absolutely irreplaceable.
But here’s the interesting thing…when we have an object that is difficult or impossible to replace, we treat it with incredible care. But a lot of us don’t apply that same care to something that is absolutely irreplaceable and much more valuable…time with our kids.
Say it again. I am, an irreplaceable presence, in the life of my child.
No one can replace you. Nothing can replace the time you give to your kids. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. It really, truly is irreplaceable.
You are replaceable in nearly every area of your life, except your family. Learning that truth has really helped me shape the priorities in my life.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize. Our church had a pastor before me. And our church will have another pastor after me. But I am the only husband and the only father my family will ever have.
I am replaceable here. But I am irreplaceable at home.
That has forced me to say no to a lot of stuff. And I remember a time when I got absolutely blasted by a guy because of this. I had told him that I couldn’t meet with him on a particular day because I already had some pretty important plans with my family. And he let me have it. He told me that I wasn’t much of a pastor, because a real pastor would never say “no” to anyone in his congregation.
I told him simply that if he really believed that, then he needed to find a church whose pastor was not married and had no kids. I told him that I have a family, and they are my top priority.
What critics like this guy don’t realize, or simply don’t care about, is that I am replaceable here. But I am irreplaceable at home.
I’m not going to wind up in divorce court because I chose to be married to the church instead of my wife. I’m not going to visit my boys every third weekend because I chose to put the church ahead of my family. It’s not going to happen. And that may mean there will be a time when I will say “no” to you. Not because I don’t care about you. But because I realize where I am replaceable and where I am irreplaceable.
I’m replaceable at church. I really am. You could replace me…probably with somebody much better than me. There are much better preachers out there. Trust me. I’m VERY replaceable here.
But I’m irreplaceable at home.
And it’s not just me. The same is true for you. You are replaceable at your job. You are replaceable on your team. You are replaceable in your club. You are replaceable in your school. But, moms and dads, you are irreplaceable at home.
If you own that truth…not just believe it…if you OWN that truth, it’s going to change the decisions you make. It’s going to realign your priorities. It will turn your life upside down in the greatest way.
Say it one more time, parents. I am, an irreplaceable presence, in the life of my child.
Let’s get into the Word that God has for us today. We’re going to start in Deuteronomy 6. This is one of the most classic parenting Scriptures in the entire Bible. It is just good, good stuff.
Deuteronomy 6, starting in verse 5. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9, NIV)
The first thing that you simply can’t miss in this passage is that parents are the primary spiritual teachers for their kids.
You want to talk about something that is irreplaceable? Parents, you really are the MOST important source for spiritual instruction and direction for your kids. The church is not. You are.
The most important source of spiritual instruction for your kids is not a children’s ministry. It’s not a student ministry. Now, we obviously believe in children’s and student ministry here at Connect. And there are amazing things happening in our kids and student ministries. I love that, and I never want to see those ministries be anything less than excellent.
But they are still not the most important source of spiritual teaching and direction for your kids. Some parents think their church has a kids and a student ministry to bail them out of the most important parenting responsibility they have. “The church will teach my kids about Jesus, so I’m good.”
The truth is, those ministries are designed to be your reinforcements. They are there to reinforce what you are already teaching to your kids. They are there to give your kids another voice of godly wisdom that is speaking into their lives. But they are not set up to be the primary spiritual teacher for your kids.
Josh McDowell wrote, “The most powerful impact upon a child’s ethical, moral, and spiritual development is the relationship with the parents. It is 300 times greater than the church.”
Think about that, moms and dads. Your impact on your child is 300 times greater than they impact the church has on them.
But now, let’s think this through at the most basic level. You can’t do this if you’re not there.
The passage we read in Deuteronomy is all about teaching and instructing your kids. But the one thing that is automatically assumed in this passage is that you will be with your kids.
Key in on verse 7. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7, NIV)
Look at all the things that are just assumed in this verse. This verse assumes that you will be home with your kids. It talks about “when you sit at home” with your kids.
And not only does it assume that you are home, but it assumes that you are creating unhurried, uninterrupted time with your kids at home. When you SIT at home with your kids. It doesn’t’ say when you work at home. It doesn’t say when you surf the internet at home. It doesn’t say when you watch TV at home. It says when you SIT at home with your kids. That refers to slow, relaxed, uninterrupted time. How much of that do you have in your life at the moment?
I know a lot of parents who are never home. But I know a lot more who are home physically, but they are mentally and emotionally somewhere else. How do you know if this is you? Just think through some basic questions:
How often is your iPhone in your hand while you’re at home? I saw a statistic recently that said that 70% of adults in the US now have smart phones. Most of you have a smart phone. But are you using your smart phone in a very stupid way, focusing on it instead of your family?
Does Modern Family get your undivided attention more than your own family? Do you care more about SportsCenter than the sport your child is playing? Can you name your favorite team’s starting lineup easier than you can name your kids’ best friends?
Do your Facebook friends get more quality time from you than your kids? Some of you need to go on a Facebook fast, starting today. Some of you probably need to take it further than you. You need to go home and just delete your Facebook account today, because you are living like a Facebook addict. If you’ve got young kids at home, you need to play Candyland a whole lot more than you play Candy Crush? And if it’s gotten completely out of hand, it’s time to just pull the plug.
We could go on like this all day, but you get the point. You can be present physically at home, and still be a million miles away.
This verse in Deuteronomy assumes much more than physical presence. It assumes that parents will be home physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I learned a valuable principle earlier in my life that has always helped me. Wherever you are, be all there. If you’re at work, then be all at work. But if you’re at home, then be all at home.
That’s not nearly as easy as it used to be because our culture has become so connected. It used to be that, when you left work, you left for the day. You weren’t at work until tomorrow. But then email was invented. And the cell phone came along. And now, all of a sudden, you are always reachable. Any time, anywhere, you are reachable.
Not too long ago, I was making a quick run to Kroger. And halfway there, I realized that I forgot my cell phone. You know what my first instinct was? Turn around and go get it. But then it occurred to me. I’m just running to Kroger. I need to get 3 things, and that’s it. The whole trip will take 20 minutes. And if I can’t be unreachable for 20 minutes without the world falling apart, then the world is in trouble.
It’s true, isn’t it? And here’s the thing that happens when we’re always reachable. If you make sure that you are always reachable to anyone and everyone, you’ll eventually become unreachable to your own family. They’ll see you at home, but they’ll realize that you are putting everyone else ahead of them.
Let’s read this verse again. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7, NIV)
This verse assumes that you’ll be at home, making time with your kids. This verse also assumes that you will travel with your kids. It talks about conversations with your kids while you are on the road.
There is nothing like traveling with your kids. Every parent needs to travel with their family. This entire series is called Family Vacation. We’re all about hitting the road with our kids.
Now, let me give the obvious caveat here. If you can’t afford to take a family trip or vacation, then don’t go. Don’t ever, ever, EVER go into debt for a vacation. Going into debt for a vacation has far more damaging effects than no vacation at all.
But who said that a trip has to be expensive? Who said it has to cost a lot of money? If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, it forces you to get more creative. However you can work it into your budget, there is nothing quite like hitting the road with your kids.
One thing that has become a core conviction for me is that I want my boys to accumulate experiences. I really don’t care how many things they accumulate, but I do want them to accumulate experiences. And I want to be there as it happens.
One of the ways that we accumulate different experiences with our kids is by getting out of our normal environment. Hitting the road. Taking a trip.
Maybe you’re wondering why this would be part of a sermon at church. This doesn’t sound spiritual to you. If that’s what you’re thinking, then you have no idea what spiritual actually is. Traveling with your kids is a great way to invest some irreplaceable time with them.
The point is, just do something. Do something to break up the routine of everyday life.
Mark Batterson likes to say that “Change of Pace + Change of Place = Change of Perspective.”
That’s true on a lot of levels. And it’s incredibly true for the family.
If nothing ever changes, your perspective and your kids’ perspective will begin to shrink. You’ll wind up with this teeny, tiny worldview that centers around all your problems and challenges and struggles.
It’s amazing how a simple getaway can remind you that, “Hey, there’s a big ol’ world out there.” It really enlarges your worldview.
And if you really want to go the distance, forego the family vacation for a family mission trip. Whoa, that’s radical isn’t it? Giving my vacation time to serve Jesus.
If you want something that is going to take your family to the next level, this will do it. If you’re not sure how to get started, talk to us. We can hook you up with organizations that will give you every detail that you need.
Some of you think I’m off my rocker. And that’s fine. Look, I’m not saying every vacation has to be a mission trip. This year’s vacation is probably already planned. But now is great time to start thinking about next year.
If you did this just once, I promise you that you would remember and cherish it more than any vacation you’ve ever taken because of what it would do in the spiritual life of your family.
You’ve gotta start thinking like this, mom and dad. Remember…300 times greater than the church. That’s the impact that you have on your kids.
Go back to our verse in Deuteronomy again. We said that this verse assumes a lot of things. It assumes that you’ll travel with your kids. It assumes that you’ll be home with your kids. It just assumes that you will create time with your kids.
A lot of us live at breakneck speed. There’s a reason we chose this spot for this video shoot. Because when you’re in a spot like this, everything seems to just slow down. I’m definitely bringing my family here for a picnic this summer, because I want to do things to intentionally slow us down.
Our schedules can get ridiculous, can’t they? But we need to understand that a crammed schedule is not the mark of wisdom. Most of the time, it’s the mark of foolishness.
It’s not easy, but whatever our situation, we’ve got to find a way. In Ecclesiastes 8, the Bible reminds us, “Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right, for there is a time and a way for everything…” (Ecclesiastes 8:5b-6a, NLT)
That pretty much disarms our excuses, doesn’t it?
I understand insane schedules. I understand that your kids have practices and games to go to. I get it. And it’s a good thing. Things like sports teach our kids a ton of good stuff. Our boys both play soccer. Last fall, I was an assistant coach on Ryan’s team. So I’m obviously not anti-sport.
But at the same time, we need to understand where things like sports rank in our list of priorities. Your kid isn’t going to play MLB. He’s not going to play in the NFL. She’s going not going to play in the WNBA.
Ok, I can’t 100% guarantee that they won’t play professionally, but the odds are way stacked against them. At some point, they won’t be playing sports regularly anymore. They will eventually outgrow it.
You know what they won’t outgrow? The influence and impact of your relationship with them. In fact, that influence and impact will outlive you. It will be passed on to your grandchildren and even beyond. Some of you who are grandparents are seeing that firsthand.
Honestly, there is nothing sadder than a parent who tries to live vicariously through their kids. And that’s what a lot of parents do with stuff like sports. You try to relive your football glory days through your son. Or you try to recapture your days on the basketball court through your daughter.
Remember Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite? He was obsessed with living back in ’82. If the coach had just put in him, they would have won state. No doubt in his mind. And he would have eventually gone pro.
It should go without saying, but don’t be that guy, dads. And moms, you don’t want to be that, either.
There are a lot of parents who are so insecure in who they are now that they try to relive their past through their kids. So many parents define themselves and their lives through their kids’ sport. Or their kids’ grades. Or their kids’ activities and clubs.
This is absolutely a spiritual issue, because your identity is not found in your kids. It’s not found in their accomplishments. It’s not found in awards or trophies or championships or scholarships.
Your identity is found in Jesus.
But when you start to find your identity in your kids, you end up placing a crushing weight on them. Your kids can’t bear the weight of you living vicariously through them. That makes failure unbearable. It’s hard enough for your child to fail on their own, but if they know that you find your identity in their performance, that takes failure to a whole new level. And that’s not fair, parents. In fact, it’s cruel. It’s immature. And it’s stupid.
“Whoa, pastor acts all big and bad when he’s on video.”
Talk to me when I get back. I’ll say it to your face. I’ll say it to you face because I care about your child and I care about you.
You’ve got to stop finding your identity in your kids. And you’ve got to start finding your identity in Jesus, because He’s the only one who’s actually up to the job. And it will save both your child and you a ton of grief and discouragement and disappointment.
And remember this, too…when you stand before God one day, He’s not going to ask you, “So how many rushing yards did your kid have?” “How many three pointers did she make?” “He really pitched a no-hitter?” “How many goals did she score?”
He’s also not going to ask, “Did your kid make straight A’s? Were they popular? Did they get into the right club? Did they go to a good college?”
I’m not saying any of these things are bad, but I am saying that it’s really, really easy to make them into a lot bigger deals than they really are. And when we make it a bigger deal than it should be, we wind up wasting a lot of precious time. Time that we can never recapture. Time that is irreplaceable.
For some of us, the truth is that we are just flat too busy. It’s as simple as that. We have overscheduled our family. And you may not like this, but I love you enough to tell you the truth. You choose your schedule. Your schedule doesn’t choose you. There are no victims when it comes to schedules.
“I just can’t help it.” Yes you can.
“It’s just the way our lives are.” Make some changes. Make some hard decisions.
You are not a victim. You choose your schedule. Your schedule doesn’t choose you.
If time is getting away from you, it’s up to you to get proactive and make some changes. Sit down with your kids. Ask them questions like, “How many sports do you want to play?” It’s possible they actually don’t want to play four sports. Ask them, “Is there anything you would like to cut out of your schedule?”
One thing I learned over a decade in youth ministry…a lot of kids are stressed out. Just flat stressed out. And the saddest part was that this stress was put on them by their parents.
Parents, you don’t want your kids to grow up and resent you because of the pressure and stress you put on them. You want them to grow up and be thankful for the time you created for them. The time you intentionally spent with them.
The Bible says in Psalm 90, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NLT)
Wisdom comes when have the right perspective on time. When we realize that time is short, we will learn to treat it wisely. That’s especially true when it comes to time with our kids. Wise parents understand the need to maximize their time, because they realize how much time they DON’T have left.
Here’s what we have to understand. Jesus didn’t just die to save our souls. He died and rose again to turn us into totally new creations.
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984)
Jesus doesn’t just save your soul. He turns you into a totally new creation. And, as a new creation, you have a new perspective.
Once Jesus invades your life, you see relationships differently. You see opportunities differently. You see problems and hard times differently. You see time differently.
But as a new creation, you also see second chances when you have failed. And listen…when it comes to this whole parenting thing, I feel like I fail way more often than I succeed. Honestly, I feel like the last person on earth who is qualified to preach a message like this because I feel like I get it wrong more than I get it right.
But here’s the beauty of parenting under the grace of Jesus…second chances are the norm. It doesn’t mean that you can replace the time you’ve lost, but it means that course corrections can happen. Things can change. If you are in Christ, you are set free from the baggage of your past, which means you can act differently in the future.
The death of Jesus on the cross for your sins is the game changer. And not just in eternity. It’s the game changer in your life. It’s the game changer in your home. It’s the game changer in your marriage. It’s the gamer changer in your parenting. If you are in Christ, you are a completely new creation because of what Jesus has done for you.
And some of us need to claim that grace, we need to own that second chance, and we need to go home and call a family meeting. We need to tell our family that, by the grace of God, we’re going to make some changes. We’re going to make the most of the time we have left.
Let me pray for us.