“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, ESV).
As a spouse and a parent, this can be especially hard! Let me suggest some habits to help make the best use of our time. Despite everyone's busy schedule, commit to eating meals together as often as possible. Make sure your table is a place for discussion with no electronic devices nearby. Talk about your day, your joys, your sorrows, what you read in the Word that morning or what you experienced at work. Ask your children about their day in turn. A preschooler won’t necessarily be eloquent, but you both can still experience a beautiful moment of sharing.
We have practiced this for years. Even today, our adult children and now our grandchildren have conversations with us about faith, life, our society, politics and a host of other topics where they feel passionate. These moments are some of the most precious that I have ever experienced as a husband and father. If you were invited to one of our family dinners, you would have to be proactive about jumping into the conversation because at the Houde's, people talk a lot and loudly!
Have special ‘buy back time’ evenings with your spouse and children where you put aside your work and concerns. For years, the special night at our house was Friday night. We didn't have a big budget, but the children were young, and their needs were relatively simple: to eat chips and chocolate! Chantal and I devoted these evenings with them to watching films and playing games together.
If you have children, make time for special evenings without your children. I’ve met too many young couples who have not taken a romantic vacation in years. I'm not necessarily talking about long stays at an all-inclusive resort. Organize a two- or three-day getaway. Ask the grandparents to watch the children and allow you some respite. Hire a babysitter for an evening. Find solutions within your means in order to buy back time as a couple. A rested, happy couple is the first ingredient of a fulfilling family life. Redeem time by seizing every opportunity to experience moments together and build your relationship as a couple or as parents.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.