I know an exemplary Christian man who had conducted Bible studies with businessmen for many years. But he became convicted that he was not teaching his own wife and children. So he quit teaching the Bible study with businessmen for 10 years. He decided he should not lead other men unless he was doing it in his home first.
This is a powerful example of obedience. You may be a leader in your church. You may be a popular Bible study leader. You may be serving effectively on many fronts, but if you are not leading at home, you should stop and get your own house in order. Then, once your household is in order, you might think about resuming some of your former ministries.
If you are a pastor, and you have a man in your church who is spending time preparing for Bible studies or Sunday school classes or is mentoring others but who is not doing what Psalm 78 calls him to do in his own family, encourage him to stop and begin doing them for his family. After he succeeds in shepherding his own household in the Word, then he will be ready to do it for others, and to do it far more effectively because he will have had much practice.
Get your schedule in control
The problem is not prioritizing your schedule, it is scheduling your priorities. The problem is not usually lack of time, but time spent in occupations of little importance.
Commenting on Psalm 78, Charles Spurgeon paints a beautiful picture of the man who invests his time in teaching his children:
“Around the fireside fathers should repeat not only the Bible records, but the deeds of the martyrs and reformers, and moreover the dealings of the Lord with themselves both in providence and grace …What happy hours and pleasant evenings have children had at their parents knees as they have listened to some “sweet story of old.”
Treasury of David, Hendrickson Publishers, Vol II, USA,Charles Spurgeon, p331, ISBN 0-917006-25-9
Spurgeon’s picture of family discipleship is a difficult one to paint with the strokes of daily life in the twenty-first century because almost every force around you is saying that there is something better. Sadly, even the program of the church can prevent the creation of this beautiful scene in our families.
Churches in our day are a flurry of activity. It’s programs, programs, programs for everybody’s needs, needs, needs. People are busy cranking the gears of the church’s organization. There is a giant sucking sound that devours the resources necessary to keep the machine moving. With all the pressures of maintaining church programs, church leaders are very concerned that the programs are fed, but they are not as concerned that fathers are feeding their families the Word of God. For every Christian it is a matter of stewardship. God has given us the time and the resources to do the task He has called us to do. But we often spend our resources of time, money, and effort on the wrong things, and have little left for the really important things.
How does this happen? Here are a few suggestions that may help a man make changes he needs to make to accomplish what Asaph is advocating.
- Remove items from your schedule that are of lesser importance to their primary calling.
- Acknowledge the fact that your role as a trainer of trainers will cut you out of many things going on in the culture and maybe even your church!
- Remember that the world will constantly lure you away from your creation order mandate.
- Accept the fact that you will sometimes be thought of as “on the fringe.”
If being faithful to God puts you on the fringe, then so be it!
So what kind of activity are we supposed to be engaged in? Leaders have a responsibility to paint the target and say, “Put your energy here”.
The target for our energy painted in Psalm 78 is, break the patterns of your fathers, “open your mouth in a parable,” and train the trainer of the next generation.