School is starting soon. Sorry students and teachers but summer break is almost over. I wish everyone a successful school season. It is hard work being a student and a teacher. I pray that the summer has given you enough of a break that you are ready to go back at it and do your very best. That is my transition to the Pastor’s Page. What does it look like for Kingdom people to teach and learn about the Kingdom in an effort to do our very best?
Christians are Kingdom of God people. This is the place where God is king and everything is subject to the king’s will and rule. The door to the Kingdom is Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection. We are invited to put the Kingdom first and to not let our loyalties be divided between the kingdoms of the world and the Kingdom of God. Eugene Peterson the writer of the Message Bible, writes,” You can’t have on foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world.” So what is our challenge as pastors teachers, parents, and students to learn and teach about the Kingdom so we can be successful?
Let me address one issue that seems to be plaguing the families I know; busyness. Here is what busy people tell me about their life. I am tired. I am running kids here and there trying to keep up with all they are doing. I don’t have time for church, prayer, family devotions, family meals, and even time as a couple. I am constantly stressed, frustrated, and sometimes angry with the kids trying to get equipment around, socks washed, shoes found, and make uncaring coaches happy. I barely have any time for myself. Even the youth feel it. Listening to a group of high school juniors and seniors from a variety of schools in Shelby County, one of their top five concerns for themselves and their peers was emotional and mental stress. They also are exhausted trying to keep grades up, be involved in community activities, clubs, teams, churches, +and have a functioning relationship with family and friends. Why? Are we insane? What about this demonstrates Kingdom Living?
Much of the motivation for this is fear- “I don’t want my kid to miss out”, greed- “I want my kid to get a scholarship”, ignorance- “I just don’t see what I am doing to my child”, or spiritual indifference,-“I don’t care what it is doing to my child.” How does that look like the Kingdom of God?
What have we sacrificed for all this busyness? Look past the obvious use of time, money, (today a family may spend up to $10,000 a year on “select” league cost according to Mac Engel Dayton Daily News), and emotional energy. What has it cost us spiritually? What has been the cost to our participating in the Kingdom of God? What have we really taught our children?
In an ideal world parents would teach the importance of family, both biological and the Christian family. The meaning of personal prayer and how to put margin in our lives for rest, recharging, and reverence. We would teach how to say no to somethings, even good things, for more important things. We would teach what it means to put the Kingdom first. We would have appropriately busy lives that enable us to give what is good to our children without stressing everyone into exhaustion. Our activities can teach some of this and sometimes fail to do so.
I am not against band, sports, cheerleading, or anything else. I am for the Kingdom of God and I am inviting you to consider what it looks like to successfully live in the Kingdom and successfully teach that to the children. I am praying for all of us. We are all in school.
The writer is the senior pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church, Sidney.