Back to School: Godly Priorities in a Global Pandemic

Matt Blackwell | January 4, 2021 Family Children, Coronavirus, Fatherhood, Fathers, Motherhood, Pandemic, Parenting, Parentings

Every conversation that I’ve had in the last few weeks has included an impassioned discourse about the kids getting back to school. Virtual or in person? Synchronous or asynchronous? All day Zooming or masking up? Sports or no sports? Well, wherever you land, we can all agree that going back to school in 2021 is unprecedented!

So, how can we, as parents, keep our heads and maintain our priorities this semester? 

One phrase. 

Three practices.

“Prioritize the preeminent.”

A preeminent goal is one that supersedes all others. It is the priority that sets the agenda for the rest of the to-do list. If someone were to ask us to list the most important things in our lives, I’m sure our faith and our family would be on the top of the list.  But, once the tyrannical weight of urgent things presses in, practicing our faith can quickly be moved to the back burner. 

I want my family to be marked by the preeminent priority of, “… the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8 ESV). If I make it to every Zoom meeting, my kids get all A’s, they win every ball game, but in the midst of all that I forsake the preeminent priority of honoring and obeying God, then I have missed it. 

So, how can we prioritize the preeminent? 

Daily: Read the Word

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.” (Psalm 119:14 -16 ESV)

Daily Bible reading is the food and fuel for followers of Christ. Your family cannot go long without it. We need God’s truth to satisfy our hunger, to stabilize our emotions, to focus our eyes on the eternal, and to remind our soul of the love of God in Christ.

So, mom and dad, what is your plan for daily Bible reading this year?

Just think, the average person reads about 200 to 250 words per minute; there are about 775,000 words in the English Bible; therefore it takes less than 10 minutes a day to read the whole Bible in a year. 

So, pick a plan and stick to the plan. Here are a few options:

It is vital to remind yourself daily of God’s love and His plans so that you don’t lose sight of your preeminent priority. 

Weekly: Remember the Sabbath

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8 ESV)

Prioritizing the preeminent requires us to make every effort to gather with the other Christians. This is admittedly more difficult for our family now than in years past, but we know that we need the ministry of other Christians to encourage our weary hearts, challenge our sinful tendencies, proclaim the Word of God, and to speak the truth in love.

Hebrews 10 reminds us not only how often, but how we ought to “meet together.”

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

The phrase “meet together” means more than just being in the same room together—that’s just an aggregation, a collection of people listening to a sermon in the same place. No, the author of Hebrews isn’t talking about an aggregation, but a congregation. 

A congregation is a community that lives life together. “Meeting together” means being a community that prays together, worships together, eats together, confesses sin to one another, and points one another back to Jesus. 

The author shows us four specific ways of what it looks like for us to meet together:

  • Considering one another (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
  • Spurring one another on (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
  • Meeting together regularly (Hebrews 10:25 ESV)
  • Encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:25 ESV)

As you are keenly aware, Sunday mornings are very different than they have been in years past, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t consider, spur, meet, and encourage. So, parents, who are you considering, spurring, and encouraging? And who is considering you, spurring you, and encouraging you?

Here are a few ways to do that:

Always: Look to Jesus

Finally, in order to keep our priority in focus, we need to heed the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead …”

This year, all of our family’s efforts, decisions, success, and failures have to be seen in the context of the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

When our family fails to accomplish all that we planned, we aren’t crushed. We have the blessing of all that Christ has accomplished. When it seems like our kids are in a battle on every cultural front, we don’t lose heart. Christ has overcome the world. When we are overwhelmed with worry about making the “right” decision about our kids’ future, we don’t freak out. Instead we, “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and … run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV). 

“Looking to Jesus” means that we prioritize WHAT is preeminent by remembering WHO is preeminent.

And what does His preeminence produce? Peace! 

“[Jesus Christ] is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:18-20 ESV). 

Rightly seeing Jesus as the beginning and the end, the fullness of God, the Creator, and Sustainer, will bring a revolutionary peace into your family. Jesus is sovereign over “all things” (Colossians  1:17 ESV), which means that today, instead of starting with the words, “I’m worried about …” we can start today with the words, “Christ is supreme over …”

Christ is supreme over:

  • My decisions about digital or in-person school. 
  • My ability to figure out how my house can be an office, a classroom, a cafeteria, and playground. 
  • My kids’ GPA.
  • My kids’ social and emotional health.
  • My family’s frustrations, failures, and future.  

So, let me encourage you to take a minute before your child logs onto their Google classroom or updates their virtual background to pause and ask the Lord for the conviction and endurance to remember His Word daily, His sabbath weekly, and His victory always.

Hang in there, you are doing great.