Get everyone out the door. Drop kids off at school. Drive to work. Full day of meetings. Pick up one of the kids, drive to softball game. Quick family dinner. Drive kids to youth group. Pick kids up. Drive home.
I don’t know about you, but an average day for me is like a perfectly timed machine.
I am the proud dad of five kids, three of whom are in high school. Some days, all my wife seems to do is drive kids back and forth between breakfast, dinner, and beyond. On top of that, we have the occasional weekend where multiple activities land on the same day, and we must figure out a weird tag-team system of getting everybody where they need to be—on time, with all the correct gear.
I know that I am not alone in this. Our society thrives on busyness.
So, amid all the calendar appointments and commitments, how do we find peace? How do we find time to sit at the feet of the Prince of Peace? How do we sit back, enjoy some peace and quiet, and appreciate the blessings of God rather than rush by them and hope we had time for a selfie? I am far from perfect in this process, but I hope that my simple, three-step plan brings you encouragement and inspiration.
First, prayer is a foundational necessity. I can tell when my prayer life is sketchy by the chaotic and busy feeling that arises. When I don’t make time in the morning and throughout the day to connect with God on a personal level, I feel it. Ignoring prayer communicates that I don’t need God, that I’ve got things handled, and that my strength is enough. Let’s be honest, that could not be further from the truth. And yet, I must battle distractions to truly “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The peace that flows from the time I spend at the feet of Jesus makes all the difference throughout the course of my day. Living in Southern California, traffic is often the bane of my existence. Sometimes I use my time in the car to play air drums and rock out to my favorite music. Sometimes I make phone calls. Sometimes I turn off all the noise and spend my time praying for the needs of myself and others.
Second, I need a plan. My calendar is an essential tool to enforce the values I deem essential. I need nights at home with nothing to do, nights where I intentionally take care of tasks. A plan helps me balance work and family life, tasks and play, energy and rest. I also use plans as my guide to long-term hopes and goals. Several years ago, I decided to pursue my Master’s degree—something that seemed nearly impossible considering my already crazy schedule. Yet, I made a plan, set aside specific hours to complete homework, took time for family, and was blessed to graduate with honors.
Third, it’s time to prepare. This is different from planning because it involves the details. I like to set out my clothes the night before so that my morning is less chaotic. I have rhythms of driving kids to school and picking them up from various activities. Preparing involves looking at my plan and then taking small, daily steps to execute the plan. I have a lot of room for improvement in this area, but I’m much further along than I would be if I didn’t do any preparation.
Life is busy. Each family has unique needs, and if you are wearing dual hats of parent and leader, it can feel like you spend more time on the crazy carousel of life than you do enjoying the sunsets. Be encouraged to slow down, to find God in the quiet moments, and intentionally walk the pathway to peace.
Mike Dobes has been in pastoral ministry since 1997 and is currently the Manager of Church Relations for Joni and Friends.