Is Your Family Your Idol?

 

Almost every week, when we’re walking…

My friend and I eventually end up touching on the topic of family as an idol.
Meaning–when family and all that goes with it (kiddos, parenting, marriage, homemaking, education, traditions, cooking, recipes) hold a place in our lives that is out of balance.

Where too much weight is placed on all those things.
Where we take something good and use it to crowd out the worship that only God deserves.

And then today I read this article–  Worshipping at the Altar of Family.

“This stuff of many women’s fantasies includes an adoring, faithful spouse; attractive, obedient kids; people who depend on you, love you, give you a reason to get out of bed, regularly stand up and sing your praises. And it is idolatry, just like money, power, and fame. It’s the thing that causes the mom in your women’s Bible study to post the 67th picture of her daughter’s birthday party on Facebook. It’s the reason for the magazine-quality family pictures all over the house. It’s why the mother-of-the-bride obsesses about her daughter’s wedding and treats it like a part-time job. It’s (at least in part) why Christmas letters get sent and then end up making their recipients feel mad and competitive.”

In part, this hits home and I’m convicted.  There is a lot of truth in this article and it’s worth carefully considering, with a heart to let God shine light on areas of blindness that need to be exposed.
(I write this during Lydi’s nap time after just posting 20-something-fun-photos to Facebook of our trip to an amusement park yesterday).

But I also feel this article could be dangerous.
It invites us to guess at motives.
When our eyes and hearts really need to look to God and ask–
What is it that you have for me?
What do you want for our family?

And in a era where a heart-for-home is vastly devalued, I guess I’m just wrestling with the author’s words.
The comment-responses following the article were mostly in wholehearted agreement of the post.
And I understand why–
We need to constantly evaluate if our family has become an idol.

But on the flip-side, there is a tendency in our society (and even within the church) to value time spent on everything BUT the family.
For example, if Christ-followers plan an outreach or service project or make a meal or give time to a ministry or person outside of the family…the sacrifice is generally accepted as honoring to God.

And is valued by others (which I know is not the goal). But it’s just the reality.
While time creating memories and traditions and beauty in the home is often overlooked as a meaningless pursuit, or even worse, as an attempt to uphold false pretenses.

Now mind you…
I’m all about a willingness to share in honesty my failures (check out our most read blog posts).
And just this morning I was cleaning hot pink nail polish out of the carpet and you could say that my countenance was less-than-cheerful.
But–I also think we can err on the side of looking down on those who put time and effort into pursuing a pleasant family aroma.

And no–I didn’t get a Christmas card or letter out last year.
But–I love the ones I did receive.
Especially from families who use their lives and interests and children and gifts and ministries to point back to Christ.

When we were expecting our first child, I read Noel Piper’s book–
Treasuring God in our Traditions.
It opened a beautiful window for me–
To see how God-centered traditions and heirlooms and family patterns and yes, even decorating can (and should) be valued.

I still mentally debate myself, trying to find the balance of pouring myself into our family and what God wants for this stage of our lives.
Trying to find a balance between serving and being missional-reaching-out-to-others without it becoming a detriment to our family.

I struggle with missionary biographies where the cost of the missionary’s ministry is their family’s care-taking or relationship with the Lord.
Or with biblical examples, like the one shared in this excellent article,  Embracing the Biblical Tension Between Family and Ministry

“Eli in the book of 1 Samuel is a sobering illustration. By failing to honor God in the discipline of his sons, Eli lost both his sons and his ministry.”

Or when is the cost to our family acceptable and what God has planned?
Our natural tendency as sinful people is self-preservation and security…while God often asks us to take risks and lay down our needs for the sake of others.

Still, there is the reality of how much time and energy and emotion and investment a child, marriage, family really needs to flourish (and only so much time and energy that a mama has to give).
I look back on our kiddos’ early years and honestly wish I’d done less serving outside of our home (we’ve been pretty involved at our church and I’m a “yes-we-can” sorta person).  We pulled back about a year ago (probably in ways that only we noticed). We’re still pretty involved, but I think the move to invest a bit more in our children and marriage was healthy.

Because as Sarah Mae shares in this painfully beautiful post:

“I haven’t been as intentional with them as is best for their souls, their minds, their persons. I’ve been too busy. Too burdened, too excited about opportunities. How easy to get sidetracked, to say ‘yes’.”

I just want to keep–
A heart willing to listen to His nudging, but also to guard against missing our primary “mission field” which is our family (especially while our children are still at home).  And I want to love and value our family in a way that brings Him glory.

And those are the only conclusions I’ve come to–
That the tension is a good thing.
And that God has different plans for different families.
And that wherever we invest our lives, we can do it for His glory.
And that the main thing is to hold it all loosely, in a open palm, with a willingess to say to Him–

“Here I am! Send me.” ~Isaiah 6:8
“I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” ~Luke 1:38

I’m trying to–
Live closer to Him.
Listen for His whisper.
Not step out unless the nudge to serve is truly from Him.
Remember that His delight and approval is my only true aim.
Rest in… if it’s led by Him, I can trust Him.

Clearly I’m still processing…
But wrestling with that tension is a good place to be.
Because it keeps me coming back to Him.

Would love to hear your thoughts…

 

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  • http://www.joyfilleddays.com/ Sarah Beals

    Where to start…
    Only WE can know for sure in our own hearts if things are out of balance, and yet our hearts are deceitful.
    And I have to agree that the state of our countries marriage and divorce rate seems to contradict the fact that family is an idol. It would seem that self is the idol.
    YES, a resounding yes that our family is our first priority. Think back to the time of Laura Ingalls. Family was about all that they had. We are so connected today, and are easily pulled away with the ring of the phone or a text for help.That said, we are instructed to love our husband and children and to be a “keeper at home.” Manager, overseer, keeper of hearts and minds.We can’t do that unless we are very much involved and “all there” with our kids.And, NO…we can’t know somebody’s motives. But we can tell by their reactions to problems if family is an idol.For instance, some would say hiding a child’s sin is prideful…but love covers.Some would say minimizing punishment for a child’s foolishness is idolatry…but isn’t this precisely what Jesus did for us on the cross?I know I haven’t helped at all…just thinking this through with you.In my own experience, “I” am usually the root of all of my own problems. The idolatry comes when I want my way…and I use my family to get it. So in that sense, I would say the idolatry ends up being “self” over and over again, just manifested in different ways.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Absolutely agree…and I think you totally nailed the root of the problem…love of “self”. Thank you for processing with me…
      Love,
      K

  • http://www.joyfilleddays.com/ Sarah Beals

    AND, arent’ you glad that I feel free to RAMBLE on your blog! :) sorry about that.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      You are welcome to ramble here any time friend :)

  • http://www.triplebraidedlife.com/ Brenda @TripleBraided

    Kara, this is such an interesting post and a hard one to truly answer. When I was single, from the outside looking into families and marriage and children, and as a former teacher, I often thought children had become idols. At the same time, I can think of many children I have been around who are in no way idols. They are highly neglected. I think our hearts and energy should be on our homes and families, however, for the right reasons. When I was single I made marriage an idol b/c I wanted it more than I wanted God. Recently I have come to the conclusion that the answer to all my spiritual problems is to keep my eyes on Jesus. The end. And pray constantly that He helps me to do that. Then, hopefully I will know the balance.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Oh Brenda…
      I so “get” this…every word of what you wrote…the looking in from the outside. And I love your heart for singles to find their contentment in Him…and were it me…I know I would have struggled. A lot.

      But I’m just reminded that we all look in from the outside on something.
      We have a child who struggles in school, due to learning disabilities/dyslexia…I can fall into looking in and thinking–how easy for those parents whose kiddos don’t struggle. They just don’t get it. They put too much emphasis on academics. They are so prideful when their child does well with almost no effort. (Sometimes that is true, but for the most part…they are just enjoying God’s good gift of a child who learns with ease).

      And we have a couple of those too…which thankfully keeps me in check.

      “For the right reasons” is the key. And even more than that–what you wrote about keeping our eyes on Jesus.

      When we were adopting again (our second round after Selah died–our first adopted little one). We actually had to stop the process and take a break for a month because the adoption had become an idol for me.

      And God loves adoption. I know it is close to His heart. Our adoptions have opened more doors for sharing the gospel than I can even count…

      That said–I let something “good”…turn into an idol. My fist closed tightly around that perceived need/desire and it went from blessing to idolatry.

      We had to stop the process for a month while I wrestled with Him.
      In the end, I slowly uncurled my fingers and gave it back to Him…and that is when we adopted our Lydi.

      Again…something good…but so all about the heart.
      I really appreciate your input and I’m looking forward to your new book!
      Love, K

      • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

        Side note…I think I’d actually agree with and like the author of the original article a lot… :)

    • Imlovinmyhubby

      I so appreciate what you wrote here! I believe “from the outside looking in” is the key to so many of our issues as mothers. Just the other day I posted a picture of the gluten free, dairy free buckwheat pancakes i made topped with the blueberries we had picked at a local farm, for my hubby to see what he was missing ;) (since he snuck out early that morning to go play “manly” games with my bro in law). It was not intended as a “see what a wonderful healthy meal I made my family” slap in the face to my FB friends or anything of the like but I had a friend post about what a wonderful mom I was & how her kids were lucky to have even eaten that morn etc. What she couldnt see from her viewpoint was that we spent years trying to discover that our children had to be gluten free, that I was out of milk since I left the store in a hurry when my toddler had an accident in her pants & we had gone blueberry picking at an organic farm for free since my hubby was recently unemployed. Little did she know that I have looked on at other mothers with envy when they can go to the McDonalds drive thru for breakfast! too many times we, as mothers, compare ourselves & our kids to each other and try to rate ourselves by what God has them doing for Him. We…ahem, I need to remember to keep my eyes on God and not compare myself or my family to others especially to posts on Facebook & Christmas cards! ;)

  • vsharp

    Juggling the weight of family and ministry is a task that requires constant communion with God. Only he can balance the scales. While raising 3 children into adulthood I have learned one very basic truth. My plans for my children are not necesarily God’s plans for my children and I don’t want them to miss a blessing because I had what I thought was a better plan Your words express a true desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. May God bless you in this precious task.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      I love what you wrote… “only He can balance the scales”
      It’s so so true.
      Thank you for your kind, encouraging comment.

  • http://twitter.com/RachelWojo Rachel Wojnarowski

    so did you get the pink nail polish out? Cause I’ve got a spot that’s still sitting. Bless you, Friend!

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      YES!!! Pretty much all out.
      No one better light a match anywhere near that spot in the carpet though after all the nail polish, Spot Shot, hydrogen peroxide & baking soda I mixed in there :)

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Okay…I replied to you once already…not sure what happened :)
      But YES!!! All the hot-pink-nail-polish came out !!! I’m so thankful.
      I pretty much used every product we own on it…so “flammable” might be an understatement, but it looks fine at least. Priorities…right?

  • Jessica Jordan

    Really great commentary Kara. Being a mom has brought me closer to the ground on my knees than I ever thought possible … It makes you so humble to rely on Jesus rather than your incapable hands/mind/heart to so often just get through the day, let alone appear perfect (hahaha … anyone who thinks a family looks idilic just by seeing them in photos etc clearly does not know that family). I constantly struggle to ensure that the atmosphere of my home reflects the fruits of the spirit … when I am screaming at my kids to “JUST GET YOUR SHOES ON” I realize pretty much daily that I need the Lord’s patience and grace more than I ever thought possible to make that happen. Definitely food for thought here, but I also have always felt that us moms sort of have a unified understanding that no matter how cute our families appear out and about, there is always a day’s worth of breakfast, mess, stinky diapers, cleaning, sharing, fighting, laughing, craziness, etc before/after that sighting that tells the unspoken story. It’s the reality of motherhood. Everyone who has been there knows there is no glamour, only work … but the work is good.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      It was so so fun to see your sweet name on here :)
      I’m with ya–
      Parenting has thrown me to my knees more than almost anything.
      Pleading with Him for their hearts…my heart.
      And I’m like you…
      I tend to share both the good and the bad and when I look into the lives of others, I expect and suspect that there is both.

      I reading 1 Peter right now–
      Loved 4:11 this morning…how MUCH I need His strength in parenting.
      Off for a full-fun-day (orthodontist, school intro/lunch., swim-ice cream-party…FULL day with nap-missing-involved…”by the strength that God supplies”) :)

      “…whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

  • Mandy

    This is a very thought-provoking topic, Kara. I suppose anything can become an idol if we let it, family included. Your points are very well made.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thank you Mandy…and yes…I’m very good at letting many different things turn into idols. Thankful to be getting to know you… Love, K

  • http://www.facebook.com/annette.welburn Annette Abrahamson Welburn

    I appreciate the conclusion you have come to and would add; are we serving our families because of us, or even them, or are we serving our families because we love the Lord.
    Honestlly, I sense bitterness and jealousy on the part of the writer of the inset post you shared. She should be happy for those who take time to share their lives with her whether it be on Facebook, in person, or in a Christmas letter. Desiring to one up others is not an issue for anyone else to address, but her, if she is feeling that way.
    We all know a wide variety of people. Sometimes we as humans can be driven to serve too much outside the home, sometimes we are too focussed on our own family or our own desires, and don’t give to others outside our circle enough. Each of us should look to ourselves for growth in this area, rather than evaluating others. God will do the work in us He has planned!
    desireofyourheart.wordpress.com

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thank you Annette…appreciate what you said about the “why” behind our serving. So important!

  • http://newlifesteward.com/ Mary Beth

    I’m having a hard time processing just what I want to say here. I agree with your conclusions: especially holding loosely. As others have said in the comments, it’s really all about motives We alone are responsible for checking our motives and following the Lord’s leading when He shows us a place getting out of balance. In the same vein, we cannot “know” another person’s motives when they send a Christmas letter, post pictures on FB, or whatever it is they do. As far as the quote you cited from the Gospel Coalition, I believe the problem becomes evident when the focus becomes the families’ need for mom instead of the families’ need for God. If we find our security in how much our family needs us, we are on the wrong path. We need God, and we want to point our families to their need for God–often done by showing our own need for God.

    Okay so that was random and all over the place.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      No…I’m totally with ya Mary Beth…that’s why this was more of a processing post…a wrestling with all this.
      But I think that is a good place to be. I like to have things “figured out” and then I stop asking Him for direction.

      I actually think I’d agree with the author from TGC post were we just having a conversation…but the guessing at motives is concerning to me (even if there is some very possible accuracy to her guessing).

      It’s just important to me that it’s all viewed as “ministry”…and that we don’t guess at the motivation behind a mama who has a row of kiddos who all look cute-and-put-together.

      I understand the author…ours were often the ragtag motley crew in spiderman costumes and cowboy boots…and that is more my bent. But there’s pride in that idolatry as well….being the ones who don’t want pretense…and finding fault in those who have beautiful Christmas cards.

      I love our crew, but I also really enjoy outside-the-home-ministry. So I probably bring my own baggage to the conversation :) I have fought hard to change my thinking over the years and to truly value my role as wife and mama.

      Eyes on Him…

  • sarita

    It is a teetter totter for sure. I can tell you as one who probably erred on the service side of life, even though my kids got the short end of the stick at times, I think it was worth it. I see traits in my kids that came from my serving. Our kids get to grow up and make their own choices with the Lord. They get to look at us as hopefully we are following Christ. Our goal is never to be “a good mom”, a “great wife”. Our goal is to “seek Him first, and all these things shall be added unto us.” How that looks will differ, with each household, with each kid. Kara, we have wrestled with this together,,,,,,, keep wrestling,

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      I love you and am so thankful for you Sarit…
      And you’re so right…THAT is what our focus should be…”seek Him first”.
      Just know that when I see you serving, it points me back to Him…but when I see you carve out time for meaningful moments with your kids…that also points me back to Him.

  • http://www.facebook.com/barb.spencer.9 Barb Spencer

    Kara, what a great commentary on this article. I read Worshiping at the Altar of Family and am convicted that at times I’m consumed with family, especially when one of my children struggles and I want so badly to help them. But I also know that God has put these precious particular children in OUR care and we must be good stewards of what we do with them. And being a pastor’s wife, the ministry aspect could take over, but truthfully, the order we work to maintain in our home is: God, family, others. Thanks for your thoughtful post…

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thank you Barb…
      I’m sure this become extra complicated (and requires even more wrestling) when your family is in full-time-ministry as a vocation.
      I constantly have to come back to that priority ordering (with a lot of prayer because He often has to show me where I’m off base) and it’s sometimes a battle for me to put my guy before the kiddos (as their needs are often very immediate). Thanks for sharing on FB Barb…just saw that! :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/barb.spencer.9 Barb Spencer

        I onlyl share what I feel is worthwhile and this was very worthwhile! Thanks so much! You always have great things to share. ~Barb

  • http://www.facebook.com/AimeeDesireeSproul Aimee Desiree Sproul

    Okay, I read the article several times and finally figured out what bothers me. According the the author, men seek wealth, power, and fame…all of which come from their own achievements and validation outside the confines of the private home. They are in control in these scenarios and actually empowered by them. Yet, women seek an adoring husband, perfect kids, people who depend on them, and the love of others…all of which means serving others in the *hope* that they are validated by these other people in their private home sphere. Eh, that just doesn’t sit well with me. After my few months of motherhood and few years of marriage, I will say that I do like having a loving husband and loooove putting a cute outfit on my baby girl.

    However!
    However, I think it’s dangerous to assume or to encourage women to seek their validation from obviously thankless jobs (however special and necessary), and then criticize them for seeking to validate all of their hard (and often mundane) work from outside their home.
    Being a mother and wife can be thankless. You don’t get a pay raise, a stellar job review, or a promotion for a job well-done. I’m not saying that’s bad. It’s selfless and that can be a really great thing. Balance is necessary; but, I think we need to be careful to not slap a mother on her wrist for – shocker! – giving herself a pat on the back for doing a good job or saying, “Hey, look at this awesome party I threw for my kid!” by posting photos on a public forum (i.e. Facebook).
    I hope this made sense and excuse any typos. I’m on a time-crunch. My super-duper-adorable baby girl is almost done with her nap (I hope y’all got that joke ;)

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      And you should post MORE photos of that super-duper-cute-baby-girl that I haven’t even held yet :)

      For me…there’s something beautiful in watching a woman who had/has a challenging, satisfying career outside the home (I LOVED teaching)…absolutely FALL IN LOVE with her little one and her role of wife and mama.

      I remember that shift…there was a loss of identity (which yes–should have been found in Christ anyway) but it was a difficult transition for me…and so when I see new mamas rejoicing in their opportunity to invest…it is beautiful to me.

      Nothing should define us but our identity in Christ.Nothing is bigger than whatever role He has planned for each one of us individually.
      And when we find contentment and true satisfaction in the puzzle piece He designed us to be….it can’t help but bring Him glory.

      Matt 5:16–we do our good works (as mama, wife, teacher, friend, servant, minister, neighbor, co-worker, writer) to shine our light (my emphasis–as brightly as we can within that role) to bring Him glory.

      Love you three! Come back to Oregon!!!

      • AimeeSproul

        I would not call any of my previous career endeavors particularly challenging or satisfying. For me, that has been the hard part about now being at home with the baby. Because, shouldn’t I have had that career I loved first? Mmmm, maybe not. It will still be there when we are ready for it again. I do love being a mom :) Can’t wait to see you again. You will recognize Avery right away (even if you’ve never seen a photo of her, because she looks like her dad!! :)
        Love reading your blog! I TOLD you that you had a good thing going ;)

        • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

          Thanks Aimee…you were the reason I checked into Blogher :)

  • http://www.thewarriorwives.com/ Elizabeth @ Warrior Wives

    You make a really great point, Kara…I’ve always heard the line about women making kids their idol, but I think you’re right that we undervalue time as a family. My oldest is only almost-5, but I’m already scared of getting so busy with activities that we never end up spending time together. Because that’s what everyone does. Gets busy with activities. And not even serving-God activities…just fun stuff. I really want to make sure we find that balance between doing what God has called us to do and no more. I don’t want to be filling that need just because there is a need and then wind up with a mediocre marriage or detached kids. Such a hard line to walk…

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Such great input here friend…
      Just this afternoon talking with a friend about how “ministry” isn’t even the issues often…how as you wrote…it’s just activity in general. Could even be…um…blogging…for instance :) (I write as I wince)
      I’m with you–
      I think if you asked me about some of my deepest fears…the two you mentioned would be among them.
      Thankful for you Elizabeth.
      Love,

      K

  • http://www.facebook.com/secretsshallebb Victoria Farrell-Gollihugh

    It seems to me, without reading any of the other comments, that the heart is the issue… not the what someone is doing, but their motivations. And that’s something we have neither the understanding nor the wisdom to judge. When I feel the niggle to think that someone is doing something for ___(whatever nasty motivation)____ I have learned that I must stop and argue that nasty whisper down… because just as surely as I hear the Holy Spirit, I also hear the whispers of the deceiver’s angels.
    Those tempters would have me believe that someone else’s motivations are anything BUT pure and loving.
    Even if someone actually doesn’t “deserve” it, I believe it is our responsibility to attribute other Moms (humans) with the best of intentions/heart motivations… the same we feel when trying to live as God would have us do… the same we would hope others would believe about us.
    I believe it is almost impossible to invest too much into one’s family! If we are focused on Christ and His service, the few days, months and years we serve our children AND husband will be seen as gone too fast when we sit with only our husband and review the years. If God and Christ are first, our service in our family can never be too much.
    JMHO, of course.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Oh Victoria…I like you.
      I think we might be “kindreds”
      Well-thought-out comment and I agree–
      And the goal…”living as God would have us do”

  • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    I’m with ya…agree with the heart of the TFG post, but struggled with the motive guessing. And I honestly don’t think that was her point at all…if fact…I think I’d agree with her if we sat down over coffee. And I want to give grace and to really try to “hear” her heart in that post.
    But I struggled with it as well…
    And it get’s scary when we take our eyes off of Christ and start guessing at the motives in others lives.I can only speak for myself and I know that even when my motives start out good-God-honoring, they can quickly become tainted. But God sees the thoughts and intentions of my heart.And I’m so so SO thankful for His grace.

  • Ash Walz

    I was so blessed by your writing! I too struggle with the tension of joyfully serving the family God has given me, with sacrificially loving the precious gifts of my kiddos, yet not letting them become the ones I worship. I am so thankful to be a mom, but I have to remind myself that my chief end is not motherhood, it is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

    I also wanted to say that I really appreciate your thoughtful and gentle response to the original blog post. Thank you for disagreeing with the author (or just that paragraph in particular) in a way that is honoring to God and not reactionary or angry. It so saddens me to see blog posts become cat fights, and this, on the other hand, was very uplifting!

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      I’m so thankful to know it came across that way…
      I honestly appreciated the original post very much.

  • Rita

    Thank you for this post, Kara. Well written. You’ve got me thinking and wrestling now too. . .

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thank you Rita…wrestling is a good place to be.

  • Lecia

    Very good article. ANYTHING can become an idol when it becomes more important to us than God. Even gifts from God (such as our children and husband) can be raised to a place that exalts someone other than God. This truly is a heart issue.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Absolutely.
      Even with this blog…I ask myself…would I give it up if I knew He wanted me to. Right now my answer is still “yes” so I feel at peace with continuing to write, but at any point…I know I’m capable of clenching my fist a little too tightly around even this and then it becomes an idol.

  • http://simplystriving.wordpress.com/ Nikki

    I read this a few times…and JUST realized I never commented! That’s the problem with reading on my kindle…sorry!

    This has been a fear of mine — making my family an idol. And I do fear at times I may have crossed the line, but am so thrilled with your conclusions. As they mirror mine. And I pray every day I hold them in my open palm, making sure He has full access. While striving to pour His love over them in everything I do to serve them. It’s a balancing act for sure, but God made me to succeed at it. Why, He’s even offered to help me!

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts–and the article. Love this accountability! :)

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Thanks Nikki…always sense the heart-connection with you. Love, K

  • http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/ Domestic Bliss Diaries

    As you have stated, I believe it is a balance. Family should be more important to us than any earthly possession or pursuit, but it should never replace God in our lives.

    In the past, I have struggled with reading posts from women who make me feel like I should be spending every waking second hoovering over my children because they deserve my undivided attention. Though they do deserve my attention, I wrestle with this thought because I don’t want them to think the world {and right now, our home is their world} revolved around them. If I constantly drop everything I’m doing every time to focus on them, then they’ll grow up feeling that everyone should treat them this way.

    I don’t know… this is just something I’ve struggled with lately, as I’m being made to feel guilty {however unintentional this may be on the part of other bloggers} about the time I spend online trying to grow a business when my child has to do something else. I’m only online until ten AM and then when my son naps. The rest of the day and evenings are for my family.

    Sorry to ramble… This post really did help me to remember it is all about God first… and after that, it’s about balance…

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      It’s so hard.
      I’m so quick to get “out of balance”
      And I’m good at rationalizing and deceiving myself…I like to give myself the benefit of the doubt :)
      I guess I just really believe that each scenario is so so different.
      Each family’s “needs” are different. Each marriage is different
      And while I may not have worked much when our crew was little, I spent a lot of time volunteering for many good things outside of our home, which also could’ve (and sometime did) get out of balance.
      The irony is that I (we) like things in simple boxes…so that it’s easy to defend how I am on track and making a good choice.
      But the reality is that unless God’s Word is completely clear on a topic…He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us sort through the details.
      My question for myself is always–am I really willing to listen to and accept and obey the answer He gives.

      And the beauty of the teeter-totter-fine-line is that it should keep me coming back to Him…always asking Him to show me my blind spots.

      Thanks so much for your honest sharing…it’s good for me/us all to hear and understand different scenarios and God is the only one who knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.

      Side note–I’m writing this during naptime…while one sleeps and the other three finish up their school work. It’s good for them to learn to work on their own and our Little NEEDS a nap. The laundry is done and I have a dinner plan and the house is fairly-clean :) I feel at peace with Him about using a chunk of time for writing/responding.

      But I’ve also been in the flip-side, where I’ve been online WAY too much during the day and I’m ignoring real kiddo needs or when I am so busy “doing my ministry for Him” that I’m too wiped out to invest in my marriage…and deep down…on those days, I know I’ve smeared that fine line.

      • http://www.domesticblissdiaries.com/ Domestic Bliss Diaries

        It all really is a fine line that should keep us coming back to Jesus and asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance (as you said). I, too, feel at peace with the balance I’ve created with managing all of my responsibilities, including mothering. I try to keep my blog work reserved for times when my child is asleep (both in the mornings and during nap times, as needed). I also have my son work alongside me while I do housework, do laundry, or cook. Then, I have times where I build independent play into his day.

        I guess the reason I’ve struggled lately is because I’ve placed too much weight on what I’ve read on blogs and no enough weight on what I read in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading. After all, I am the only woman with my home and my family, so I can’t expect to try to imitate the household schedules or family structures of others.

        Thank you for your insight. You are a gifted writer and I pray that God would continue to use your words to minister to others.

  • Rebecca Bozarth

    My heart rang true with everything you wrote, yeah, I swing back and forth with making my fam an idol and then giving it no investment at all. Only walking by the Holy Spirit can I ever hope to bring this crazy me into balanced and holy peace.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Oh how I relate to your words– “crazy me”
      Thankful I can ask Him for wisdom and He promises to give it and somehow I find a certain amount of peace in knowing it’s probably better I don’t think I’ll ever really “figure it out”. Keeps me coming back to Him…
      Every time you write I sense the connection…thanks for stopping by.

  • JRP

    I agree with this for sure: “But on the flip-side, there is a tendency in our society (and even within the church) to value time spent on everything BUT the family.”

    I think it’s a fine balance when it all comes down to it. It’s good to be together as a family but also good to step back and have “alone” time too. Re-evaluate where the family is headed and make sure that God is still in the #1 position and He is who we are worshipping with our lives.

    I think, more than anything, there isn’t enough time and effort put into marriages and families these days.
    Of course, it’s always possible to go the complete opposite direction but I find that is more of a rarity than the norm. :)

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      I agree…very much.

  • Becky Daye

    I think that part of the problem is that we are constantly judging one another. Social media (which I love btw!) has compounded this problem and we assume things about others that are just not true (like the picture thing being idolatry when really it might simply be that someone has a passion for photography or their family lives all over the world and sharing those pics helps them remain close). We absolutely should wrestle with this and pray for God’s wisdom because anything can become an idol in our lives- but it is not the thing that is the idol, it is our motivations and our hearts that allow idols to thrive. And while man will always look on our outward appearance, God is the only one who truly knows our hearts.
    Wow- didn’t know I had so much to say on this! Thanks for the challenge and laying your thoughts out there. I agree! :)

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      Soooo true…eyes off self and others and back up to Him.
      Absolutely love this–
      “anything can become an idol in our lives- but it is not the thing that is the idol, it is our motivations and our hearts that allow idols to thrive. And while man will always look on our outward appearance, God is the only one who truly knows our hearts.”
      Thanks for stopping by Becky :)

  • Heather Hubbard

    As my husband’s deacon term ends, I am also stepping back from committees and paring down my children’s activities this fall. We will still be serving, some, but this will be more a year of reflection and perhaps it will not be such a terrible thing.

  • Guest

    Love in the Bible deals quite a bit with where you place
    your priorities; what is your chief motivating factor. The problem with
    idolizing the family, like idolizing anything which is good, is we begin to
    assign priority to it and expect fulfillment from it which only God can
    provide. As I walk with godly men who try to balance ministry and family and do
    both well, it is often the wife’s input which is going to turn the husbands
    head away from focusing on Jesus and get the husband to over prioritize the family.

    What I mean by this is I have seen wives tell their husbands
    to get out of ministry when the pay will not support the lifestyle she has
    grown comfortable with. I have seen wives train their husbands with the reward
    of sex for following her family based plans. I have seen wives
    “protect” the family from suffering by convincing their husbands
    being around unchurched folks is unhealthy for the children. I have listened to
    wives counsel their husbands, ” We must withdrawal from the community God
    sent us to reach for the good of the family.” The thought process which
    follows is the public school system is full of unsaved folks with different
    values so we must homeschool so the culture does not destroy our children. Sectarianism
    results and distancing from the World we are called to sacrificially seek and serve
    is forgotten and replaced by protecting the family from the harmful influence
    of the World. I have watched a wife convince her husband he was never supposed
    to be a pastor because she was uncomfortable with what God was calling them to
    do.

    I think of Rachael
    from Genesis 31:35 who deceives in order to conceal the family idols she is
    sitting on; if the family is an idol you will protect the “good” of
    the family as being of top importance and you will hide the truth of your
    idolatry and deceive those around you (usually starting with your husband) so
    your idolatry is not revealed. Rachael
    was trusting her own deceptive ingenuity and manipulation more than the power
    of the living God. Wives be careful, before the children you must honor your
    husband, and before your husband you must love your Lord. Look to Jesus first and you will bless your
    husband and allow him to lead the family even into difficult insecure situations
    if God leads.

    The family unit is a good thing, homeschooling can be a good
    thing, raising our children biblically well is a mandate for all parents. We
    must live in the tension of attempting to do what is best for our Earthly
    family as we constantly bow to God’s will for the advancement of His Kingdom
    and trust these are not two mutually exclusive areas of life. If we prioritize
    God’s Kingdom of being first importance we will also receive His blessing upon
    our family, but if we prioritize the family over God’s Kingdom we will lose the
    blessing of both. Your identity is as a child of God, your value comes from
    Christ; not performance. You do not have
    to be the perfect mom, wife, or house maker; being released from the oppression
    of the good allows you to serve the needs of the Great.

    I often am told by families when they drop out of church
    life that they “always must do what is best for the family.” Just be
    sure the family you are speaking of is God’s Family. Oh what a joy it is when I
    find a man who has a wife who is confident in the saving power of Jesus and who
    has destroyed her idols and is a blessing both at home and in Kingdom building.

  • stvnhthr

    Love in the Bible deals quite a bit with where you place
    your priorities; what is your chief motivating factor. The problem with idolizing the family, like idolizing anything which is good, is we begin to assign priority to it and expect fulfillment from it which only God can provide. As I walk with godly men who try to balance ministry and family and do both well, it is often the wife’s input which is going to turn the husbands head away from focusing on Jesus and get the husband to over prioritize the family.

    What I mean by this is I have seen wives tell their husbands
    to get out of ministry when the pay will not support the lifestyle she has grown comfortable with. I have seen wives train their husbands with the reward of sex for following her family based plans. I have seen wives “protect” the family from suffering by convincing their husbands being around unchurched folks is unhealthy for the children. I have listened to wives counsel their husbands, ” We must withdrawal from the community God
    sent us to reach for the good of the family.” The thought process which follows is the public school system is full of unsaved folks with different values so we must homeschool so the culture does not destroy our children. Sectarianism
    results and distancing from the World we are called to sacrificially seek and serve is forgotten and replaced by protecting the family from the harmful influence of the World. I have watched a wife convince her husband he was never supposed to be a pastor because she was uncomfortable with what God was calling them to do.

    I think of Rachael from Genesis 31:35 who deceives in order to conceal the family idols she is sitting on; if the family is an idol you will protect the “good” of the family as being of top importance and you will hide the truth of your idolatry and deceive those around you (usually starting with your husband) so
    your idolatry is not revealed. Rachael was trusting her own deceptive ingenuity and manipulation more than the power
    of the living God. Wives be careful, before the “needs” of the children you must honor your husband, and before your husband you must love your Lord. Look to Jesus first and you will bless your husband and allow him to lead the family even into difficult insecure situations if God leads.

    The family unit is a good thing, homeschooling can be a good
    thing, raising our children Biblically well is a mandate for all parents. We must live in the tension of attempting to do what is best for our Earthly family as we constantly bow to God’s will for the advancement of His Kingdom and trust these are not two mutually exclusive areas of life. If we prioritize God’s Kingdom of being first importance we will also receive His blessing upon
    our family, but if we prioritize the family over God’s Kingdom we will lose the blessing of both. Your identity is as a child of God, your value comes from Christ; not performance. You do not have
    to be the perfect mom, wife, or house maker; being released from the oppression of the good allows you to serve the needs of the Great.

    I often am told by families when they drop out of church
    life that they “always must do what is best for the family.” Just be sure the family you are speaking of is God’s Family. Oh what a joy it is when I find a man who has a wife who is confident in the saving power of Jesus and who has destroyed her idols and is a blessing both at home and in Kingdom building.

    • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

      I agree with pretty much everything you wrote here and have seen the same withdrawal and/or tendency towards self-protection over a willingness to sacrifice for the gospel and respond to whatever Jesus calls us to…

      I think my husband and I have come to a similar conclusion– living in the tension is a good thing. We need to constantly be asking ourselves…what is God telling us to do with…our time-family-finances-energy-etc. Because ultimately it ALL should be at His disposal.

      As a family, we’ve been led to adopt, though we know that He doesn’t have that planned for every family. But there was a cost in that decision (not thinking financial) and it definitely wasn’t the route of choosing ease or self-protection. Again though, it all comes down to a heart of surrender in each and every area. We’re not in a place now where it would be wise to adopt again (we’ve been through that process twice already). BUT– He could change all that and no matter what we want to be willing to listen.

      I struggle with (even within the church) the tendency to compartmentalize “ministry”. Supporting and serving our husband and kiddos is also ministry. And you’ve made the key point– it’s when we take a good thing and turn it into an idol that the problem arises.

      Paul Tripp’s book– Forever (Eternity Amnesia) and Tim Keller’s book– Counterfeit Idols have greatly impacted the way my husband and I think about all this.

      All that said– there is also the reality of a breaking point where I can be busy so busy “serving” that I neglect our family. Where I’m so depleted from “outside the family ministry” that I don’t have the energy I need to invest in my marriage or to develop a home life where children experience the joy and wonder of living in a relationship with Christ. Because little ones require much and there is value in the time invested in their lives and in those immediate family relationships…God values them :)

      Anyway– thanks for nudging me to revisit this today :)
      It’s good to process all this and to keep the tension at the forefront…it’s too easy to slip into complacency.

      I keep replaying the following questions for myself–

      What is God telling me/us to do (through the Bible, His Holy Spirit, wise counsel, and prudence)?

      And am I/are we willing to obey?

      • stvnhthr

        Thanks Kara, you do make good points. The wonderful thing about a godly marriage if your husband is serving you as Christ leads, he should be a safeguard against reaching the breaking point where energy and emotions are depleted. A husband is to be skilled at leading ministry at home before he is accountable and obedient enough to serve in the Church.

        Thanks for the insights, keep calling people to protect and serve the family at home and the Family at Church.

        (sorry about the double post below feel free to delete the anonymous guest duplicate post.)