It isn’t uncommon for us to hear a homeschooling mom vent a little frustration about how much trouble she has accomplishing school, keeping her house clean, and preparing meals. In the next sentence, she will, without even realizing it, give us a clue as to why she is struggling. She herself won’t be aware of the cause and effect of her two statements because she is so close to the situation. However, as an outside observer only knowing what she tells us, we can quickly discern the problem.
Priorities are very difficult first to define in our lives and then to live by. It seems fitting that a starting place for our priorities would be God’s Word. For example, there are two verses particularly aimed at Christian women to which we could look for direction in setting godly priorities for our heart focus and time usage. In Titus 2:4-5 the older women are admonished to “. . . teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
In 1 Timothy 5:10, we see what Paul gives Timothy as criteria to look at in a Christian woman’s life that will determine whether she qualifies for church support if she becomes a widow at some point with no other source of care. She is to have been “well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.”
We can easily see in these verses a blueprint of a woman’s priorities. Everything in these verses grows from our relationship with the Lord, so that is a first priority. Then we are to love our husbands and children, be keepers at home, and finally, minister to others. This is a simple list, and yet it appears to be quite powerful. Consider what would happen if we took everything in which we invest time and evaluated each in light of these priorities.
Let’s start with setting aside time each day to spend reading the Bible and in prayer. That one is easy since it fulfills priority number one plus is instrumental in helping us with every other priority we have. Not only do Bible reading and prayer take precedence on my “to do” list, they also receive the first part of my day.
What about exercise time? That doesn’t seem to fit clearly into one of the priorities—or does it? What is the result of not exercising? Poor health and lack of energy. That means if I don’t have exercising as a priority, I may not be able to fulfill my other responsibilities as a Christian woman. Therefore, for me, exercise time stays on my list of profitable time usage.
Does housekeeping make it in my list of priorities? Absolutely. The verses in Titus tell me to be a keeper at home. A part of that would be staying current with the cleaning tasks in my home. This makes a pleasant environment for my husband and children and is a demonstrative way of showing my love for them. What about the directions in 1 Timothy to wash the saints’ feet or lodge strangers? I can tell you from personal experience and talking with other moms, we don’t want anyone outside our family in our home when it is dirty, messy, or cluttered. That means we aren’t willing to have our homes used for ministry and outreach to others when they are in this condition. However, if my home is continually maintained, then preparations for dinner guests are an afternoon affair rather than something entirely avoided or requiring a week-long cleaning marathon.
Many Christian women have chosen not to work outside the home. They often feel they should, in some way, be contributing to producing income for the family. As I evaluate these verses, I don’t see this as a priority at all. It isn’t even implied in either of these verses. On the other hand, consider what a home business often does for a homeschooling mom. It causes her to live under constant stress and time pressure. It limits and sometimes completely robs her of time for the higher priority of homeschooling her children in order to keep up with business demands. It consumes her thoughts and emotional energy. It can even cost her health.
Where do outside activities for the children fit into a list of priorities? Once again, I don’t see them in these verses. For our family, a part of loving our children is teaching them at home. Taking them out for music lessons, sports practice, and co-op classes simply means we wouldn’t have the needed time for our schooling. This then would cause me stress, time pressure, angry responses, impatience, discouragement, and sometimes depression. This is the exact opposite of the directive to love my children.
It isn’t uncommon to hear a mom say that she needs time for herself. One vehicle she may choose for this is computer time in message boards, blogs, or personal e-mails. She plans to take five or ten minutes but commonly ends up taking a half hour to an hour. In the meantime, the housekeeping, homeschooling, or meal preparation she could have used that time for is left undone. Now she feels rushed and frustrated, which leaves her more susceptible to angry outbursts. If my personal socializing can’t be confined to an allotted time and not disturb other priorities, then it needs to be curtailed.
Our priorities are vitally important in determining how we spend every minute of our day, particularly when we are in our child-raising years. Personally, I would vote for children who “miss out” on soccer, homeschool co-op classes, and piano lessons but have a joyful, sweet-spirited mom because her priorities are in line with Scripture. The alternative is too often children who are involved in every possible church, homeschool, and other activity but are growing up in a home filled with anger, stress, frustration, and impatience while not even having time to accomplish homeschool.
I would be thrilled if this Mom’s Corner challenged many who are reading it to sit down and determine your priorities. They may not be just like mine, but I encourage you to take them from Scripture and know what they are. Then hold up how you spend your time against those priorities. Evaluate what the outcomes of your time usage are on your family and on you—spiritually, emotionally, and physically. May we be women with godly priorities—ones who wisely choose how to spend their time based on those priorities.