Shopping as a family comes to my mind.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in a store, and each member of the family (including me) seemed to have their own separate mission. My wife usually wants to accomplish the original reason for the trip, whether that’s just looking with no specific intention to buy, comparison shopping for something specific and expensive, or buying a specific list of groceries. I, on the other hand, often spontaneously think of a few very specific things that may or may not be in that store. And I have sometimes gently pushed the rest of the fam to move a little faster until we got to MY treasure (confession is good for the soul). A few times, I’ve even abandoned the shopping ship and swam straight for my stuff. Note to self: that rarely goes well when we said we were “going shopping together“. At least one of the kids usually has the sole desire of getting back home as fast as possible. And they pursue their mission passionately with repeated interrogations of both parents, “Are we almost done? Are you ready to check out? Do you know how long we’ve been here?! If we don’t leave soon, I’m going to die!” And at least one of the other kids seems to find something interesting on every aisle. Something that grabs their attention until they grab it. And gaze at it. And shake it or smell it. In fact, it might be six aisles back, and they feel the need to back-track to re-examine their newfound treasure and yell across the store, “Mom! Dad! Can we get this?!” prompting at least one parent to delay their own mission for a search and recover operation.
What to do, what to do.
Proverbs 15:21 reminds us that “Folly is joy to him who lacks sense, but a person of understanding walks straight ahead.” That doesn’t mean we’re to abandon our kids in the frozen foods aisle (or anywhere else, for that matter). But it does imply some important truths for anyone in a position of authority with others under their care.
* Some things are more valuable than others and require priorities for success
* We must say “no” to likely dangers and distractions in order to pursue real treasures
* We must often say “no” to good things in order to pursue better things
* When we want to do good, evil will be right there to tempt us (Romans 7:21). And if we’re pursuing something for our own glory, that temptation could be our own sadness, anger, or fear at being taken off course from our selfish mission. Again, note to self.
* Focused people are not always popular people – they might spoil the fools’ fun
* People who focus on good things invest in others and are blessed by God (2 Timothy 3)
What treasures are worth forging straight ahead? Anything that reflects God’s character, commands and promises as revealed in Jesus, the Son of God. Here’s a few that come to my mind: graciousness, candor, protecting the vulnerable, providing “seeds” for others’ godliness, personal and corporate worship in private and public for God’s glory, opportunities to trust and obey him, living in Jesus’ likeness as prophets and priests and kings for Him, and resting in joyful dependence on Him.
May God bless you as you forge ahead in truth and love, calling on Him for grace and guidance to honor Jesus. It won’t be easy, but you won’t be alone.