The Myth of Quality Time


I know people often struggle with devoting a significant portion of their weekend to church.  I could sit here and say that worship is only an hour, but I know that you have to get up, get ready, and get there.  This all takes time and then you have to get home, and people usually change their clothes, etc..  It could be after 12:30 PM or later by the time you’re home and have changed gears on a Sunday.  So, if you’re the average family, and everyone works or goes to school during business hours Monday through Friday, then all you have together for a weekend is Saturday and, now, half a day on Sunday.  I get that.  I feel that crunch, the pressure to get in some real quality time with your family.  As clergy, my Sunday duties draw me away from my family during church time, and require me to leave the house before them and get home after them.  Not to mention, that when I get home, I’m pretty tired, after all, I was working hard in my priestly role.

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So I am not surprised to hear people talk about not being around last Sunday because they were out spending quality time with their family.  In many ways, it resonates with me.  One day a couple of weeks ago, I was looking in on my sleeping son in the evening, a couple of hours after I put him to bed.  I felt this inward struggle, and the voice in my head telling me to make sure I spend quality time with my child.  When I started to reflect on what that really meant, I came to a shocking conclusion: quality time is not just the time we spend with those we love in this life.  Christians are, by nature, directed to looking at time as beyond this life.  We are, by theological implication, eternal people.  Life does not end when we die; it continues through eternity which we hope to spend with our God.  I do not know how long I will have in this life with my son.  I have to be realistic and recognize that life could end at anytime, either mine or his.  But, if I believe what Christ says, then I will see my son again after the resurrection.  I should be spending my precious time living so that we will be together for all eternity.  That is true quality time.  A time when we will not experience sickness, sorrow, or death, but will be joyful and in God’s presence forever, together.  What could be of a higher quality than time spent that way?

The earthly definition of quality time includes time spent “making memories.”  It’s a romantic notion, isn’t it?  That somehow when we look back on our time together, both my son and I, will in some way have built up these tangible moments that will make us happy and feel like our lives weren’t wasted.  What if I was resurrected only to discover that, in my attempts to make this quality time manifest, I neglected my relationship with God, my duties as a disciple, and failed to pass on my faith effectively to my child?  What if I had put off God and ended up compromising my opportunities to enjoy an eternity, not just with God, but with my son?  I know that then this quality time would mean nothing.  If I set an example for him by skipping church for breakfast, or a camping trip, or a vacation where we don’t visit another church to worship, then I’m effectively telling him that worship, our church life, and our God are not the most important things.  That would be a lie.  Nothing else matters when you look at life through the lens of eternity.  For the Christian, quality time includes, at its core, worshiping together, taking our rightful place in the life of the Church as a family, and letting NOTHING come between us and God.  We go into mission together.  We worship our God together.  We pray together.  We learn together.  We grow in relationship with God together.

I could listen to that voice in my head, with all its rational underpinnings, that calls me to make my son my priority to the exclusion of all else.  But, from deep within the wells of my being, in the inner recesses of my heart, I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to me, saying that when God is my priority, God will ensure that I am blessed with quality time with my son.  Not just in this life, but the next.  The truest quality time exists in life after the resurrection, and I will do all that is within my power to ensure that my son and I are there together.

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