Life is busy. When you stop to think about it, there are so many things that an average family has to do: school, sports activities for the kids, church, church activities, work, maintaining work relationships, exercise, witnessing to your friends and family, taking care of your own household, and the like. How on earth are you supposed to manage it all? How am I supposed to do my job, take care of the kids, get them to school, sports, doctor, mow the yard, go to church, attend the men’s Bible study, and also be a witness to my neighbor? It sounds like life has me by the throat and I’m ready to toss in the towel.
I think the first thing to keep in mind is that you should not over commit. Always give careful consideration to the things that you sign-up to do. Second, you need to set priorities. Christ must come first – prioritize worship and the means of grace. You would no sooner cut yourself off from food because you are too busy, so don’t do this with word, sacrament, and prayer. Third, ensure that the needs of your family come next. You may not be able to participate in every church event, and perhaps you shouldn’t have your kids participate in Little League if it means missing church on Sunday or taking too much time away from your family. Fourth, look around at your other relationships, such as extended family, co-workers, and neighbors. You can’t be all things to all people, and neither can you help everyone all the time. But you should do your best to keep an eye on these different areas so you can offer assistance, prayer, and witness when needed.
One of the things my wife and I did, for example, is we made a goal to get to know our neighbors around us in a one-house radius—the neighbors to our left and right and in front of us. We invited them over for dinner here and there, and even invited them to church. My wife started her “pool ministry” where she would invite neighbors and unbelieving friends over to the community pool so she would get to know them, witness, and invite them to church. We weren’t worried about the tempo of these invitations, but we did want to ensure that we made an effort. And we prioritized the means of grace and family first, and then looked around to how we could serve and reach out to others.
Another factor of which we are aware is that life isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. In other words, you will have seasons in your life when you won’t be able to participate in church as much as you like or reach out to your neighbors. The parents of small children, for example, typically have their hands full. It’s all they can do to get the family in the car to go to church let alone helping others or inviting neighbors over. If you have older children, or are empty nesters, you might have much more time and ability to help the church and reach out to neighbors. Since life is a marathon, don’t worry if you have to slow down or take a break. Just remember to reengage in neighborly hospitality and witness and service at the church once you’re able. Don’t allow other commitments to crowd out these important elements of life. That is, you get so swept away with your son’s traveling baseball team that you stop your involvement at church, never reach out to your neighbors, and don’t even use the opportunity to witness to your son’s baseball team.
The biggest point to remember is—you don’t have to take care of family, church, and neighbors all at once at the same time. You can afford to juggle things and move from one thing to the next while at the same time prioritizing the most important things.