By Rocky Stone
I have to tell you right off the bat; I’m not an expert in this. In fact, I’m struggling in this area. But I want to talk to you about three key areas that I’m pressing into, and my hope is that this will encourage you and help you connect with and serve your family better as we continue in this current pandemic.
Number One: Be Flexible.
I am a person that loves my schedule. I’m the guy that has my alarm go off at the exact same time every single morning, whether or not that’s actually when I need to be up. Even on my days off my alarm goes off and wakes me at the same time as it does on days that I have to work. I love having a schedule, I love being in a routine, I love doing things regularly, and right now we find ourselves in a place where our routines are being flipped on their heads? Nothing is happening as I expected it. Routine and planned have gone out the window, things are continually changing. I want to encourage you, and encourage myself in the same breath, be flexible. This is the best thing that we can do right now. Embrace the day as the day comes. Be willing to change and move things around. This is our new reality. I’m not used to working at home. I’m used to traveling from place to place and meeting with people while working out of Starbucks or an office. Before this pandemic, I worked from home only a fraction of the time that I do now. Working from home and working through this with my family has its challenges. But in those challenges, some beautiful things are happening.
Be flexible about how you’re working, and when you’re working. Before this crisis, I lived and died by your calendar and schedule, but that can’t happen right now. In this new reality, work can happen at any time which brings new challenges into the home. I have found great importance in making sure that my family knows when I’m working and when I’m off work. The temptation, at least for me, is to continue working well into the evening. Everything becomes a ministry, and everything becomes work.
In this, I’ve learned that my kids need to know when daddy’s off work and when I’m not. Having me at home and seeing me throughout the day is confusing to my two younger kids, all they see is that daddy is home and he doesn’t have time to play. As a family, we can establish new routines that respect my work time if I let them know when I’m working and when I’m not.
Number Two: Be Intentional.
Let’s remember that this crisis isn’t going to last forever. Even though it feels like a few weeks is forever, this time will soon pass. Recognize what this time is, it’s a gift.
There are some scary things going on in the world. In the midst of this, some people are sick, and some people are losing jobs. This isn’t to minimize any of that, but to keep it in its proper place. These things are happening, but for the most part, we do not have any control over that. Let’s focus instead on what we can control, our time. I want to encourage you to capitalize on this time by being intentional with your family. Spend this time talking to your kids. I have four boys, my youngest is three, and my oldest is 12. I’ve sat each of my kids down, even the three-year-old, and asked about how they’re doing. How are they processing this, and what are they missing? What are they sad about, and what are they enjoying? We’ve had some great conversations about how they are feeling. It has helped me realize that I’m not the only one that’s had a significant shift in my routine, this shift has hit my kids and my wife as well. I want to encourage you to remain flexible, to embrace the time that you have with your kids and your family and be intentional with that time.
Number Three: Be Loving
I think this is probably the area that, at least for me as a dad, I’m struggling with the most. As my kids run around and make a bunch of noise and get into different things while I am trying to work, it’s easier for me to snap and jump and correct them. It’s harder for me to be quiet and embrace the difficulty that they’re having as their world has also been interrupted. We have a choice on how our kids experience us during this time. Let’s choose to set the example and lead them well in love and compassion.
Often, as pastors and ministers, we talk about our families as our first ministry. If we are honest, that’s something we love to say, but it’s oftentimes not evident in our life. As the world hits the pause button, we get the opportunity to make that statement a reality and allow our kids and our spouse to be that first ministry in our life.
I think many of us are finding creative and exciting ways to connect with our church, to love our neighbors, and to serve the people around us. Many of the ways that we are serving others can also be applied to how we serve our families. Match the time and energy you’re putting into serving your community and your church with the time you are serving your family. Let those balance each other, let your kids and wife be more important than the next crisis or this current pandemic.
These are things that I have been trying to do. There are some days when I succeed, and there are some days when I don’t. Each moment is a new opportunity. Keep loving your family. Have extra grace for them and be thankful. Be thankful for the time you have with them because we all know that in just a short amount of time, life is going to come roaring back. We’re going to have tons of responsibility, an overwhelming amount of conversations, and lots of tasks to accomplish as we put life back together.
Take advantage of this time. Love this time. Cherish this time.
I’m praying for you.
Rocky Stone was born in LA and raised in Moreno Valley and Riverside. He served in the US Army for 11 years and graduated from California Baptist University with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and Religious Counseling. Rocky previously served on a church planting team as a teaching pastor and was a General Contractor in Chicago, before becoming pastor at Sandals Church Menifee. He has been married to his best friend, Nicole, for 8 years and has 4 sons, Amere (12) Avante (11) Owen (5) and Graham (2). He loves tacos, woodworking, and walking with people as they discover how amazing it is to be all in with Jesus.