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Your Most Precious Possession

January 22, 2020
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If you read Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, or saw the movies made from them, you’ll recognize Gollum. He was obsessed with The Ring. It was his “Precious.” A good bit of the plot of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings revolves around him. He’s both comic and tragic at the same time. And he’s dangerous to Bilbo Baggins. He has plans to eliminate anyone and anything that stood in the way of his possessing his precious.

What’s your precious? Everybody’s got one. What is the thing you are most likely to obsess over? What is your most precious possession?

Since the pretext for this blog is marriage and family, you’d assume I’m aiming at a tie between your marriage and your family being your most precious possession. And since I’m a Christian, endeavoring to live and teach from a firmly Christian world-view, you might think I’m aiming at your personal relationship with Jesus. Now we’ve got a three-way tie. I wouldn’t want to give in on any of these three things They’re each precious to me. My relationship with Jesus is the very most precious thing in my life. I hope it is for you, too. So I guess it’s not a three-way tie. My walk with Christ is in first place.

But after that, what? After this most self-evident of most precious things, what’s your Precious?

My answer to this might not be what you think it is. My answer: T I M E.

Like every other thing in my life, time isn’t something I possess. It’s not mine. I am only a steward of it. I won’t go on a long sermonic diatribe about this, but I believe the idea of being a steward is one of the biggest and most powerful ideas in the New Testament. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 4:1-2. “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”

I am only a steward. And I want to be found faithful. Ownership is a myth. Everything you or I may think we own can go away in a blink. An L.A.D. Widowmaker heart attack proved this to me. Hurricanes, wild fires, tornadoes, stock market crashes (now called “corrections”) that wipe out half your retirement savings, divorces, death and a few hundred other things make my point. So does the Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 3:10. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will pass away with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be burned up.” 

In the end – and I mean the REAL end – it’s all going to burn. It’s all temporary, even if it seems permanent. I think one of the reasons the Holy Spirit gave this to Peter is because we need the reminder. Our default isn’t to treat things as temporary.

OK. So it’s all gonna burn. And because of that, we get to be stewards of what God puts in our care for temporary use. This is a VIT (Very Inportant Thought). It should change our point of view on “our stuff.”

Time is in this “our stuff” bucket. It’s not ours, any more than the rest of the stuff in the bucket. It’s entrusted to us temporarily to steward. Good stewardship requires thought. Often, deep thought. A wise steward is always thinking about what’s the best way to use what has been put in their care.

I want to focus on two places where your time-stewardship is critical. Your marriage and your family.

The question is pretty simple. How are you doing with stewarding (managing) your time in your marriage and family?

How do you even know how you’re doing? You have a sense of how you’re doing. Just the feelings side of it. These feelings are sometimes accurate, but not always. A better way to discern this is pretty mechanical. Take your calendar and carefully go through it for the last two weeks, and track how much time you’ve spent investing in your marriage. Then go back through those same two weeks and track how much time you’ve invested in your family life. You’re not looking for dramatic events. Some of the things you’ll see may have happened almost accidentally because you showed up. It’s pretty amazing what happens when you just show up. Notice those things. But also notice when you were intentional – when you showed up because you intended to.

If you see that you’re doing great, pat yourself on the back and start writing a book about how you got there. If you’re like most normal people, quit spanking yourself and decide today that you’re going to take measures and baby steps to get better at it. This is how you become a faithful steward.

I’ll give you one little thing that has helped me get a little better at it. Make appointments on your calendar for investing in your marriage and family. Write in blocks of time for this. I’ve noticed that most of what gets on my calendar gets done. At least it has a better chance of getting done than if it doesn’t get on my calendar. If I make an appointment with myself to go to the Y and work out, and put it on my calendar, I’m more likely to get to the Y and work out. When I think, “I’ll get around to that,” I often don’t get around to it.

Of course, appointments on your calendar can be ignored. And things come up that get in the way of doing what’s on your calendar. Life’s that way. But if you don’t get it on your calendar, it stands far less of a chance of you getting to it. So schedule it. I told you it would be simple and mechanical.

OK, so you block time on your calendar. What should you plan to do with that time? Just show up and see what happens? Sometimes that’s a great plan. Especially if you’re a highly structured, Type A person. You showing up without an agenda and without expectations might be a life-giving breath of fresh air for your spouse and/or kids. Just showing up and asking, “What would you like to do?” might be a very good start to wise time stewarding.

There are a couple of things on this, though. First of all, you may have had the experience of asking that question and getting, “I don’t care…” as the response. It kind demotivates asking again to get an answer. One thing that might help with this is offering 2 or 3 options. With your kids, it might be, “Would you like to play a board game, or play cards, or play a computer game?” These are just three random things. You know your kids, so you’ll know the right 2 or 3 options to offer.

If you don’t know them because you’ve not been engaging with them, your best first move is to say something like, “I figured out something important. I don’t know what you like to do. This is very bad of me, and I’m sorry. Will you help me learn some of the things you like?” Use your own words, but say it. This isn’t a silver bullet or an instant cure, but if you’re sincere, and you pay attention (turn your phone off…), you might be surprised by what can come out of this.

With your spouse, the same idea might work for you. It depends on how well you know them, just as with your kids. They may not want to play a board game or cards or a computer game (but they might). Offer them a couple of options for things you could do together. Sounds easy, right? It is if you and your spouse like to do the same things. But if your interests are different, it’s more tricky. Because the best options for your spouse aren’t going to be 2 or 3 things you like to do, but 2 or 3 things they like to do. This makes it tricky.

You might need to make the same admission to your spouse I suggested you make to your kids. Humbly and sincerely ask them to be your teacher, and then be a good student. Then take the risk and push through your pride and engage with things they like to do.

Here’s a second thing. It’s more spiritual. At first it will probably feel mechanical. Start your day with a simple prayer asking God to help you to make your spouse and your kids a priority today so you can steward your marriage and family time faithfully and well. Even though it seems like a little thing, it’s not. For most people, it’s such a little thing that it’s incredibly forgettable. You’ll have to build a habit for this. And you’ll need reminders to do that. Write yourself notes. Set a reminder on your phone. Email yourself a reminder. Whatever it takes. But if you start the day with this prayer, you’ll set yourself up to make stewarding your marriage and family time more wisely and faithfully.

Here’s one of the greatest things about this prayer. Nobody wants you to be a faithful steward of your marriage and family time more than He does. It’s a prayer you can know God wants to answer. Those are the best prayers to pray, really.

So this isn’t brain surgery. It’s not like you need to go to a class on it. It’s pretty simple. But it won’t just happen. Get intentional and set yourself on a course to be a wise and faithful and effective steward of your time with your spouse and kids, and see what God will do with this.

From → Marriage, Parenting

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