As far back as I can remember in school and in society at large, my generation has been given a consistent message: “Strive to be number one!” And while we all need motivation and encouragement to do well in life, we also need to know the importance of balance in our lives.
I do not know how much we have achieved relative to other generations, but one thing for sure- - this lifestyle of multi-tasking and the like has taken its toll in some important areas. And there is probably no area of our lives where that is more obvious than in the family. The surveys that I have read in the past several years show that most troubled families list the lack of time together as a big contributor to their problems. Interestingly enough most seem to be able to identify the problem, but make little progress in fixing it. Why? Could it be that we are afraid to make changes because we might fall behind in the race to be number one?
There is an old story that is germane to this thought about two paddle boats. They both left Memphis at the same time headed down the Mississippi River on their way to New Orleans. As they traveled along side by side the sailors on each boat began mouthing off to one another about who would reach New Orleans first. Challenges were made and soon the race was on!
Both boats were being tested to their limits to get ahead of the other. After a while, one of the boats started running out of fuel (because of the race) and fell behind. However, one enterprising young sailor came up with the idea of using some of the ship’s cargo to fuel the ovens. When they saw it burned as well as the coal, they started using the materials they were hired to transport to propel the boat. In the end, they won the race, but burned up the cargo.
The moral of the story is: God has entrusted us with cargo consisting of extremely valuable effects like marriages and children- - and even ourselves to be transported to proper destinations. Yet, this precious cargo too often has become expendable for the sake of the “race.”
There is certainly nothing wrong with drive and ambition to move ahead in life. However, if we lose more than we win- - what have we achieved? Or as Jesus put it, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? (Matthew 16:26). In this context we could safely include, “and the souls of his family.”