This article is in the present issue of ‘Families First’ UK magazine. This was the text I wanted; it has been edited down in the the magazine.
stewardship of myself, my family, Thanksgiving
When I was a principal of a large high school, I was rarely home on weekends. Sporting events, parent meetings, Saturday school, plays, Robotics, mentoring all clogged my days and nights. Thanksgiving was one of the few weekends I did not work. After the classic Turkey and stuffing and football and apple pie on Thursday, I really wanted to refocus on my wife and children. As a Christian husband and father, I knew that the holidays could easily become about shopping and food; friends and self. Or for me, work.
My desire was to see my family become a community that was focused-for at least this short time-on listening and being totally present with each other. And I had to model this somehow. So I did the counter intuitive thing-the one thing that you shouldn’t do on this most travelled weekend of the year-I decided we would take a family trip.
After the larger family event on Thursday, we woke early on the Friday and travelled to an East coast city to visit a museum together as a family. We always stayed overnight and at least until Sunday morning. Then we returned home to New York City. We never stayed with friends in the city we visited; never told anyone exactly where we were going. We always walked the museum together, usually through a special exhibit.
One time in Washington DC we went to the National Geographic museum to see the Chinese earthen soldiers; another time we visited Philadelphia to see a Van Gogh exhibit. For the first couple of years, I planned the trip with my wife. Once the kids hit their early teens, they took over. They planned the timings and routes, the hotel and museums; they became the stewards of our family time. They also planned our evening devotional time right after supper and before dessert. They owned it then and still talk of these trips today. One of our favourite memories was when mommy and the girls chose a Moroccan restaurant to eat in. They were surprised when the belly dancer came out right before dessert! (That night we skipped devotions.)
These unexpected adventures united us. We had to depend on ourselves in new places. Yep, with other family pressures-Grandma and Grandpa; Uncle and Aunts and cousins and all the time demands that first Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it was hard to claim that time. But this was our time; our family.
So we hit the road, shared, listened loved and prayed together for two plus days. We needed it; and I needed it most of all.
I had to put the beauty of art and the beauty of my wife and children back in my life. I needed to reconnect with my household because without a listening family –which for me was my community – I could never really listen to the school, the students their parents or the teachers. I had to look first at my family before I could try to create other families because that is where Jesus began His earthly life, in a family. There is where he first modelled stewardship.
Paul sings of Jesus’ stewardship in Philippians 2:6-8
Who being in very nature God, /did not consider equality with God
Something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, /Taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself/and became obedient to death-even/death on a cross!
Jesus left His heavenly family; Jesus humbled himself to death on a cross from birth in a manger. This was His road trip. And He did this so that I could enter His family by faith.
The Amplified Bible speaks about faith as “the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness”. The holidays, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas, are times when the stewardship of our time and resources can be stretched and challenged. But if we lean onto and into him, we can do greater work as His stewards, (John 14:12) whether in our work, home, community or church.
We are built and designed by God to serve. That is what stewardship is and it began first in a family.
In His eyes, it is all about family.
And that is where it continues today.