I remember when I was a teenager, my Dad would quote Ecclesiastes 3 to us whenever we were fooling around at a time when we should be doing something else, like being serious. Well, he didn’t exactly quote it, he would just say, “Ecclesiastes 3” in a joking way and we knew he meant there was a time and place for everything and this was not the time or the place for whatever we were doing. He did this with me and many of my friends.
A number of years later, Dad and I had discussion, which was essentially our version of the talk “Good, Better, Best” (Dallin H. Oaks talk in October 2007 General Conference). If you haven’t heard or read it you should (http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-775-38,00.html). We talked about those things in life that are necessity versus those things that are luxury or a want. Based on how I’ve prefaced this you would think I was talking about materialism (needs & wants), but our discussion was about how we use our time and that of our family’s. Dad counseled me to make sure that we, Sheri and I, did not let the world (i.e. school activities, church activities, sports, piano, karate, etc.) take control of our family and our family time and to make sure we did those things that were most important. Since then I’ve watched friends and acquaintances struggle with limited or no family life because they’re always running their kids to this or that, while trying to squeeze in their own hobbies and activities. Many of these activities are not bad activities but when you look at the tradeoff they may not be so good.
If our Heavenly Father’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Pearl of Great Price – Moses 1:39) then Satan’s goals is to bring to pass the eternal destruction of man. His greatest tool to do this is the destruction of the family since it is in the family where individuals are taught righteous principles and correct living and values. I think many families are overstretched because of how many things they are involved in. There are studies that show that family time, time when families do things together like eating dinner or family outings, is shrinking. Families aren’t taking the time to do those things which are most important.
I think one of Satan’s greatest tools right now is his ability to divert our attention from those things that our most important. Or better put, his ability to divert our attention toward that which is of no value. One of my favorite scriptures is 2 Nephi:51 – “Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy”. I would include “do not spend you time on that which has no value”.
This can be a dicey conversation because there are many things we do in life which might appear of no value but may serve some purpose, like TV or video games. Either of these in moderate doses can be enjoyable and beneficial. In large doses these things become a waste of time and have adverse effects on our lives.
There has been a substantial increase in obsessive or addictive or habit forming behavior during the past decade or so. Of course we often hear about pornography, and rightly so. It is pervasive and corrosive to the soul. Yet, there are many things which are innocuous or neutral in nature that can become a vice. I’m typically a means between the extremes, or moderation in all things kind of guy. I realize that just about anything at it’s extremes can become addictive or habit forming, culminating as a vice. I ran across an article recently about a city councilman who was voted off a committee because he kept tending his Facebook Farmville game during committee meetings.
So why do I tell you all this stuff. Because you need to be in tune with your family and the individuals in your family, as well as yourself. It is a good thing to have individual activities as well as family activities, both with judgment and balance. I remember when you kids were young I started four-wheeling. There were a couple of times I went off on a Saturday with friends for a day of four-wheeling. Nothing really wrong with it, except that if I continued that direction I would have spent a lot of time away from my family. Instead I did more four-wheeling with my kids instead of with my friends. I’ve played 25 years of basketball, twenty plus of that on Saturday mornings before my family was up. I’ve generally tried to work my hobbies and such around the schedule of my family instead of working my family’s schedule around me.
There comes a point where having your kids doing everything, (i.e. karate, soccer, piano, etc.) is too much. It is important to pick and choose and then make sure the things you and your kids are doing aren’t taking away from those things that are most important (ie. Seminary, Church attendance, keeping the Sabbath Day holy, hometeaching, visiting teaching, Husband/Wife dates, etc.). Remember Ecclesiastes 3, a time and place for everything.