08.29.23 | Shepherding | by Jake Bennett


    For many of us, a new school semester has begun. Our family has started the exhausting work of returning to life by the school schedule. Summer break is over, and the groaning mumble of young children being pulled out of their nice, warm beds is in full swing. As a father, these moments remind me of my childhood. I remember my mother’s threats. The lights would turn on, and if I didn’t get up, then the wet, cold towel went on my feet, then the blankets were pulled off, and the final, last-ditch attempt was cold water being poured on my head. That last one only had to happen once! I made sure of it.

    The rhythm of a new semester is hard to return to for both kids and parents. Even if you don’t have kids, being disciplined can be difficult! How do we motivate our children or ourselves to get back into healthy rhythms of life? There are a few ways to do this. We can try by sheer willpower to change our patterns. I have heard from many folks who can do this, but I have never been able to do this for more than a week or so - probably less.

    Another motivational resource I often use is what I call “survival necessities.” If we don’t get up and go to work, we won’t survive. Certainly, the ancient Israelites knew this one. If we don’t plant the crops, what are we going to eat? “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.” Proverbs 6.6! Survival can be an important motivation, but it is also a hard motivator when we don’t see our needs as clearly as an ant does.

    I have found that the most helpful motivator is to be intentional about whom our lives are “rhythmed” around. When I am the center of my world, then the rhythm is impossible to maintain. Only when I have my life in orbit around something or someone else can my motivation impact my intentions. As parents, it is easy to be in orbit around our kids. From school to soccer to homework, my life feels like a chauffeur. And while it is good to be a chauffeur for our children, it only properly fits when our parenting is in orbit around the Lord and His rhythm and routine.

    What gives meaning to our rhythm is the One who established the rhythm of the sun.  As Adam and Eve were called into their work in the garden, they were also in the place where they were to meet with the Lord. The Lord is calling you to meet with Him in your workplace. Your vocational calling - as a student, parent, employee, or retiree - is to have labor in which you meet with the Lord.

    When our attitudes reflect this calling, then we won’t need a cold splash of water to get us out of bed. We become attuned to our purpose and call to rule over the places of Creation which God has given us to rule. This could be the running of an office, the caretaking of a home, the way we respond to emails, or the meetings we have with fellow image-bearers. In these, we are engaged in the purposeful dominion of rule. It is also the place in which we will be prepared for the Lord to meet with us.

    Back to Articles
    Back to Top