Prioritizing what's important!
A guest blog post by Dorcus Morgan. Dorcus is the wife of pastor Errol Morgan of Parker Hill and the mother of three boys.
When we had our first child we were excited and nervous all at the same time. We now had the responsibility of forming and shaping another human being and, in a few short years, we added two more. During that time, my husband’s job was being a youth pastor, so are lives were filled with kids of all ages. We were given a glimpse of what our home and lives would look like as our children grew.
We had dreams of what we wanted for our boys and knew we would have to figure out what to make a priority in all our lives to reach those dreams. The prioritizing started out easy and then life got busier and more involved with each child we had and as they aged. I tell many people that the hardest part of parenting, at least for me, is being consistent. Consistency makes the prioritizing easier.
These are a few of the areas we choose to make a priority:
#1 If our kids were being cared for by others, we wanted the caregivers to want to be around them again. Priority – manners, manners, manners.
We insisted on please, thank you, yes sir/ma’am, you’re welcome, and addressing adults as Mr./Mrs. I am not sure how many times I asked them to say those words, at times I am sure I sounded like a broken record. There were also times they didn’t get what they wanted because they wouldn’t use those words. I am sure they still get tired of me asking if they used their manners when I am not around!
#2 Their character was more important than their accomplishments. Priority – winning and being perfect isn't everything.
Our kids were and are involved in church activities, school clubs and sports. We stressed being a gracious winner or loser. Congratulating those who finished before them and encouraging those who finished behind. Reminding them that their abilities are a gift from God and, regardless of how much work they invested, it would mean nothing without acknowledging the Giver. We encouraged them to be part of the team even when on the bench. Their attitudes leave a lasting impression.
#3 A relationship with Christ is more important than the events/activities in which they participate. Priority – do everything in our power to point them toward Christ.
When our kids were little, we would pray together before bed, read bible stories, and sing songs like “Jesus Loves Me”. We would show them Christ in everyday situations: pointing out nature, praying for people in accidents that we drove by, or buying them age-related devotional books. Because of my husband being a youth pastor, we learned how important it was to surround our own kids with people that cared about them and believed a relationship with Christ is important.
When we left our house, the people and things pulling their minds away from Christ increased greatly. For us, the best place to help with that was church. Church services/activities became almost a non-negotiable. If a sporting or school event/practice was scheduled for the same time as the church service we usually attended, we chose a different service time to attend. If it was practice, we communicated with the coach/leader to let them know the boy(s) would be a few minutes late or would be leaving immediately at the end. There were several nights that we pulled into youth group and they were still in their uniforms. There were times that the event was not routine (districts, tech week) that our kids missed church, but they were few and far between. Some may think we did a disservice to them by not making sports or (in our case) drama a priority. I am not sure our boys would agree - right now, we have a Division I athlete (with a scholarship) and one that has traveled getting to sing, dance, and act. As the kids gained more responsibility, work factored into this area. Our kids’ employers asked them to submit the times they were available to work. We knew working on Sundays might be necessary, but asked them to make their availability for after services were finished. On Wednesdays, we had them make it a day they were not available at all. Interaction with friends, being encouraged in the same areas, small group leaders, and pastors was more important.
We now have two kids no longer home full time. Both are continuing to learn about Christ and are working on forming a relationship with Christ that is their own. We have one at home for only a few short months and then he will be off, hopefully continuing to form his relationship with Christ. Our parenting has transitioned from 24/7 to as needed, but we are still encouraging the priorities listed above and trusting that that investment will continue to help them make their relationship with Christ their number one priority.