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Quantity Time, Quality Time, & a Clingy Son

Recently, I had a bit of traveling to do for work. Nearly 2 weeks worth, to be exact.


Confession: Though I see great value in getting out of your normal environment to dream, plan, and stretch, I hate being away from my family. I hate it.


My son is at the age where he definitely understands that I’m gone. But he doesn’t understand when I’ll be back. Every morning I was gone, he expected I was still going to be there to play with him.


Every night before he went to bed, he expected I’d be there to tuck him in.


My wife told him that I’d be home next Friday, but that meant nothing to him. Next Friday is just like tomorrow…or next year. He has no concept of time.


So when I returned home, he didn’t want me out of his sight. Everywhere I went, everything I did, every time took a sip of coffee, he was right by my side. He didn’t want to take the chance that I’d get on another plane without him. That I’d go somewhere and leave him back home. If I grabbed my keys, he heard them jangling together from across the house and came running.


It reminded me that in raising children, neglecting “quantity” time is a big deal. (I know that there are people that travel much more than I do, the demands of their job pulling them away. I interact lots with military families…I get it.) And when I neglect quality time, my son feels it.


Quality Not Guaranteed


You can’t avoid “quantity” time together and be guaranteed “quality” time.


Culture would lead us to believe that it’s the “quality” of your time with your family that is most important. That “quantity” time is a waste, and just isn’t feasible. With the demands of work, hobbies, church, etc., “quantity” family time is a thing of the past.


Truth: you can tell what you value by what fills up your calendar.


“Quality” time is found when you spend “quantity” time. In other words, “quality” time isn’t truly “quality” without a bit of “quantity” to go with it.


Oftentimes, I hear families say they focus more on the quality of their time together rather than the how much time they truly spend. Which is code, every time, for, “We’re too busy to spend much time together.”


Life takes on a different pace for most people through the summer months. A slower, more relaxed pace.


This summer, uncover quality through quantity.


Put your phone down. Don’t “Facebook” the moment. Instagram can wait. Instead of watching life unfold before you on your 3-inch LCD screen, watch it unfold in all its beauty.


Check voicemail later. Respond to emails after bedtime. Your Twitter feed can wait.


And take advantage of every moment.


Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart(K) and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7, emphasis mine)

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Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an Mdiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, "Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint," he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.