Priorities

This is a big week for Hampton as it prepares to host the AA State Basketball Tournament and show off its fine facilities. The weather in the northern half of the state has already forced the tournament to be postponed one day. The semi-finals were originally scheduled for Saturday, with the finals for every classification the following weekend. With the postponement of the tournament by one game, the semi-finals are now scheduled to be held on Sunday.

I have never been a fan of the Arkansas Activities Association, as I do not believe their main concern is the students. That is beside the point. It has been a long-standing rule of the AAA that a school cannot schedule any games on Sunday. A friend of mine rescheduled a rained out game for a Sunday several years ago, resulting in his school being placed on probation. The AAA penalized the school until they needed to adjust it for their benefit.

Within the past two years the state baseball tournament experienced record rainfall and had to be pushed back, and games were played on Sunday. A cousin of mine, who is a successful high school football coach and athletic director, called me and asked me to write a letter of compliant to the AAA about this decision. He called several other pastors and we all wrote a letter- but never received a reply.

The AAA’s decision to play on Sunday is a reflection of our society and its priorities. Sunday afternoons have been a popular time for teams to practice on a regular basis over the past few years (not to mention Wednesday when it interferes with church). The weather is warming up, which means that many families will choose to participate in other forms of recreation on Sundays, while some will choose to lay in the bed as long as possible, regardless of the weather.

I regularly hear people complain about being busy, but we have brought it on ourselves. We have neglected the Sabbath, the day the Lord set aside for rest. You can choose to debate about whether it should be Saturday or Sunday, but you cannot debate the fact that God created us as people who need rest; therefore, His original design was for us to have a day of rest.

I regularly see parents let their children and their children’s schedule and demands rule their life. If the kids want to do something or do not want to do something, then that is what mom and dad do, whether they want to or not. It does not matter that practice is held on Sunday afternoon that will keep you from church, or if there is a tournament that keeps you from church on Sunday, or if an activity interferes with services on Wednesday night. “There is always the next service,” we think.

I do not want my children to grow up thinking that gathering for worship is an option that is reserved for when it is convenient or when there is nothing else to do. Parents are responsible for their children’s spiritual education and foundation. I was blessed to grow up in a home where there was never a discussion on Saturday night or Sunday morning about whether or not we were going to church. Guess what? I do not have hard feelings about that. It has not caused me to seek professional help; rather, it established a way of life that I believe I would keep even if I were not a pastor.
 
My friend John Yates has shared that when he was 10 years old, his baseball team had practice on Sunday afternoon. His dad told him that he would not attend, then called the coach and told him that his starting third baseman would not be at practice. By the coach’s rule, John would have to miss the next game, which he did. He said that he was not very happy about it while he sat on the bench, but many years later, he treasures the fact that his dad took a stand and set an example for him about priorities.
 
What priorities are you setting for your children? God expects, and your children deserve, for the Lord and His work to be the top of your priorities.

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