« August 2017 « Feature
What Matters Most
The Foundation of Strong Family Relationships
Sabbaths can be tricky. As I was getting ready for church a few months ago, my daughter Mia was frantically tearing her room apart looking for her Sabbath School lesson. Being a perfectionist, she needed that lesson to complete her Sabbath morning package (Bible, offering, lesson). But her father, being a perfectionist, as well, needed to get to church on time. Inevitably, our two worlds collided a few moments later.
I’ll never forget the still small voice that whispered in my mind—pray. So, I took Mia by the hand, we bowed our heads and prayed. Less than a minute later, she ran out of the room holding her lesson, beaming.
Before you roll your eyes and chalk this up to another “lost and found keys” prayer, stick with me for a bit. Throughout history, God has chosen to reveal Himself through story, and He uses families to continue telling the story from one generation to the next (Psalm 78:1-8). That’s why He commands His people, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up” in Deuteronomy 6:6-7(NLT). God reveals Himself through family.
This whole chapter is centered on God. He even commands His people, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (Deuteronomy. 6:5, NLT). So, while He is commanding, at the heart of all that He is saying, is...Himself. He is establishing a connection, a relationship, if you will.
Relationships matter. In families, relationships are paramount. But the most important relationship within the family context is not what you may think. It’s not the relationship between husband and wife. Neither is it the relationship between parent and child. No. The relationship that matters most, is between God, parent/mentor, and child. So if this is the relationship of most importance, how do we as parents and mentors build up what matters most?
Number 1: Share Biblical stories of God's work in this world. If you’re going to begin somewhere, begin with God. Let Him share his narrative throughout the history of our experience here on earth. Don’t diminish the stories of old; instead breathe new life into them. Make them come alive.
Number 2: Share your personal accounts of faith. My daughter Mia consistently asks me to tell her stories at night time. She loves to hear the lessons I’ve learned from God in my own life.
Number 3: Live your faith. Remember, God’s story is forever unfolding. The journey continues. Let God tell this narrative through you. Don't forget that every day you live, you are living out an incredible tale.
John the Beloved writes about the continuation of God’s story in 1 John 1:3 (VOICE) by saying: “What we saw and heard we pass on to you so that you, too, will be connected with us intimately and become family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus.” I love that. I love that it’s all about a connection, a relationship, a relationship that is passed down from one person to the next. This relationship is what matters most.
In her book The Desire of Ages, Ellen G. White describes it this way: “The lessons that we ourselves learn from Christ we should give to our children, as the young minds can receive them, little by little opening to them the beauty of the principles of heaven.” As parents or mentors, we have a responsibility to pass on what God has taught and revealed to us. Through His Word, our past personal experiences, and the life we now live, we will show others what matters most.
Which brings me back to the story above. I am a pastor. Sabbath can become very stressful for me if I allow it. If my focus becomes more about getting to church on time so that I can greet the people, preach the sermon, and do the Bible studies...then I have missed the point.
Standing before me is a child who has the same perfectionist mindset as me. I’ve been where she is many times before, and it can be so discouraging. I have a choice. I can tell her, “Mia, forget the lesson, we’re going to be late. Let’s go.” Or, I can pause, listen to the still small voice telling me this is a teachable moment, a divine appointment.
The truth is, by pausing, I force myself to stop and remember what matters most. And in the end, it’s not about finding a Sabbath School lesson; it’s about finding and reconnecting with the One who matters more than anything else.
God...He is what matters most.
Walter Martinez is co-pastor of Adventist Fellowship Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, with his wife, Heather, and two children, Mia and Ethan. He earned his Masters in Divinity from Andrews University and is finishing up his Doctor of Ministry in Family Life Ministry.