Balancing Financial and Family Needs

Augustine once said that his mother Monica travailed more for his spiritual birth than for his natural birth. What a blessing it would be if we would have a similar zeal to nurture our children with Biblical principles so that, like Obadiah, they would fear the Lord from their youth. In this competitive, busy world it is so easy to neglect our families. The oldest juggling act in the world may be balancing the need to spend time with one’s family and the need to work and provide for one’s family financially. Someone has said that when we reach the end of our lives it is not likely that we will say, "I wish I had spent more time at the office." It is much more likely that we will lament the fact that we didn’t spend more time with our children and spouse. Short tidbits of "quality" parent time can never compensate for mothers and fathers who are there for their children at mealtimes, study times, family devotions, and bed times. Making more money is not the right thing to do if it tips the scale against the family. Providing for the financial needs of our families is important but let us not sacrifice time with our families in order to pattern ourselves after the world and its obsession with possessions, fashions and entertainment.

Trying to juggle personal interests with family interests can also result in imbalance in our families. A few years ago at a specially designed running competition, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win. One boy, however, stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. They all turned around and went back - every one of them. One girl with Down’s Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." All nine linked arms and walked across the finish line together. Everyone in the crowd stood and cheered.

Dr. Paul Kienel, President Emeritus of the Association of Christian Schools International, reflecting on this incident responded, "Like the eight special runners who set aside their personal desire to win in order to help a fallen runner, we parents must set aside the world’s ’get a life’ philosophy and, to the best of our ability, see to it that our family members have every opportunity to cross the finish line together. To properly balance personal interests and family interests we must give weight to the spiritual, social, educational, and physical needs of our children and spouse. As adults, we need to think about our work, our profession, and the world but the purpose of all that should ultimately lead us back to our family responsibilities. Our primary thoughts and interests should be harbored at home."

As adults we must also maintain a balance between the little things and the big things in life. Missionary Hudson Taylor once said, "A little thing is a little thing, but faithful- ness to a little thing is a big thing." Dr. Kienel went on to write, "Many of us, men especially, regard ourselves as ’big picture people.’ We like to leave the finer details of parenting to our spouse. On this point we would do well to review the words of Moses: ’And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates’ (Deut 6:6-9)."

Clearly, the Lord is directing us to establish a home environment, where we are busily engaged in the serious task of nurturing Godly values in our children. To those of us overly busy developing careers and pursuing "important" personal interests, these words of God may be a little thing. But to Moses, and above all in God’s eyes they are very big indeed. Let us be there for our children when they need us most, while they are still children, and provide for them a legacy of instruction and admonition which may be an eternal blessing to their souls.