One of my favorite times each day is helping my six year old son wake up in the morning. I have learned he has to ease into the morning or look out everybody! Can I get a witness? I typically climb up the ladder to his loft bed and crawl into the bed and the laughing, tickling, and UFC wrestling ensues. This usually does the trick and gets him in a good mood before it’s down to business of get dressed, put on socks and shoes, eat your breakfast, brush your hair and teeth, and don’t watch TV because you don’t have time. Last week at bedtime, I threw him into his bed (another tradition of ours), prayed, and closed his door, and he yelled back, “Dad, come back! DAD!” Certain it was a ploy to stay up later, I opened up the door and yelled in my frustrated dad voice, “What now? It’s time for bed!” He replied, “Don’t forget to crawl up in the bed with me in the morning for Daddy-Tater time (his name is Tate).” I instantly felt horrible for yelling at him. “Of course,” I said. How precious is that time with my son!
Sometimes, in all that needs to “get done”, in the morning, I skip that time with Tate. I mean, the school bell rings at a certain time, I’ve got to get to work, he needs to brush his teeth, lunches have to be packed, dishes need to be put away, and a host of other chores. Whenever we miss that time, it typically is my fault, because we are in a rush because I am running later than normal. I didn’t set aside enough time for what was most important. I didn’t protect the highest of priorities – building a relationship with my son. Sure, obeying my instructions and completing the list of to-do’s are important, but not most important. Some would argue that getting to school on time is most important. I hate being late. Others would insist a healthy breakfast is essential to the day ahead. I cook a mean scrambled egg. But I would be adamant that the UFC championship match on the top bunk and the “how long can you resist laughing when the daddy tickle monster attacks” time is most essential. Building relationship is always more important than just completing a checklist. What does it matter if we are on time, have a clean room, and a spotless sink if we never grow closer together? I do want to argue that you can do all of that well, not just part. Being and doing go together. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Doing flows from being. I hate dirty dishes in the sink, but I’d skip the dishes any day to not miss out on time with Tate in the morning. And then go back and do the dishes.
This story is more than about our relationships as parents and children. It’s also about our relationship with Jesus. Mark 3:13-14 says Jesus called the people He wanted with him (let that sink in a minute) so that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach. It’s important that we do what Jesus sends us out to do, but our first priority is to be with Him. There is an “and” in that sentence. We are to be AND do, but our doing comes from our being. Does that make sense? It is important for me to preach, but I can’t really preach unless I’ve been with and sent by Him. How would I know what He wants me to say? It’s important that I do great things for God as a “worker that needs not be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15) as I have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10). However, I must realize, “Apart from Him, I can do nothing” (John 15:5). Read that again – NOTHING! We don’t just need Him for the big things, we need Him for everything! It is being with Him that enables me “to do all things” because He “gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). It is the foundation of a relationship with Jesus our works are built on. If not, we will get the works wrong, steal the glory from the Father, and think this Christian life is about us. It’s not – it’s all about Him!
When we meet someone, one of the questions we typically ask is, “What do you do?” Not a bad question, but maybe, when we greet other believers, instead of asking, “What have you done for Jesus lately?” we should be asking, “Have you been with Jesus lately?” If the being is good the doing will also be good. I know my doing is a whole lot more productive (fruitful) when I’ve spent time with Jesus (abide in Him and Him in me) as John 15 reminds us. Let me ask you, have you been with Jesus lately? Continue to do good works so others will glorify Him (Matthew 5:16), but what if you do all of that for Him and miss being with Him? Don’t cut out the doing, just get it in the right order – being comes before and really alongside doing. It’s like the Lord saying to me each night, “Son, don’t get in a rush and forget (really neglect) our time in the morning. I want to spend time with you!” That’s the relational God! That’s the One Who calls us friends (John 15:14-15)! Now that’s something worth waking up for each morning!
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.