I'm sort of an unusual bird when it comes to running with an iPod. Where most people listen to up-tempo music to help keep their pace strong, I choose a much different genre. I like to listen to podcasts that range from ministers to marketing. It's just another way I can continue to grow as an individual. One of my favorites is Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA. His dad is Charles Stanley, the popular pastor of First Baptist Atlanta.
Recently, as I was on a run, my iPod finished the podcast it was playing and rolled right into the next one which was Andy's popular sermon, "Choosing to Cheat." This was a pleasant surprise as I had heard him mention this sermon (and book) on a previous Leadership Podcast and that he had re-branded it as "When Work and Family Collide: Keeping Your Job from Cheating Your Family ." It had been a while since I heard this sermon, so I was anxious to get refreshed.
The premise of the book and sermon is that everybody cheats in our allocation of time. We either give our time to things that are important and cheat the less important things or we give our time to the less important things and cheat the things that matter most. We ALL cheat. He really expands this with real life examples of work vs. family, hobbies vs. family, spouse vs. kids and even kids vs. house. It's worth the time to download ($1.00) and listen HERE. Having heard this sermon several times, I have to admit that I was half-way listening.
Typically, as I am out on my jaunts, I use this time to process all that's going on in my life (my marriage, my kids, my work, etc.) During this particular run, I found myself dwelling on a matter with one of my kids. It seemed as if they were sort of wandering through a stage of inconsistencies. Their grades were dropping, behavior was out of character and it just seemed they weren't connected as before (and they are not even a teenager). Being a male, I want to find the "fix" for my challenges and thus I was considering what I needed to do to help turn this matter in a new direction.
About this time, Andy began to share a visual illustration and was connecting several scenarios to the illustration by role-playing the one who had cheated and could not figure out what had happened to his family. Then he said it. He said the words I had just uttered to myself in regards to my dilemma. He said, "I don't understand. My kid was doing fine then all of the sudden his grades started dropping and he was not acting like himself." Wow! Talk about a divine appointment...
You see, I have been cheating. I had allowed the demands of others to force me to keep putting this particular child over to the side with a "In a minute" that never came or "I can't right now" because others were more important. (While I never said others were "more important" that is the message I was sending.)
This is by no means an attempt to justify my behavior. I was wrong and have since made major adjustments to engage more and say "No" to the lesser important things. I must remember, that my children are growing up and will be gone soon. I can't afford for trivial things or even some important things to take priority over my children or my spouse. I can't afford to cheat.
Ask yourself, "Am I cheating?" and "Where am I cheating?"
Obviously, the foundation of Andy's sermon is built on scripture. He uses the story of the early days of Daniel being tested with vegetables and water. The key part was that Daniel chose to seek grace from the king and not from God. In other words, he chose to violate the king's order so that he could honor his commitment to the God. In the end, because he chose wisely, God granted him favor or blessings.
The same is true with us. If we will choose wisely and seek to honor our heavenly Father, He will give us favor and blessings. Trust me, I've already seen a different kid in my house. All that was needed was my choice to keep the main thing the main thing.
Have you been cheating and made a change? I would love to see your story. It just might be the encouragement that someone needs to read.