Leadership Begins at Home

This is a guest post by Dave Stone. He is the Pastor at one of America’s largest churches, Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and is the author of the recently released Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you how to get a free copy. You can read Dave’s blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Why do some of the sharpest leaders step up in the workplace but flake out when they walk into their home? Is it fatigue? Work overload? Or are they just out of their element?

A Distracted Husband - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital, Image #13166567

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital

With Father’s Day approaching, this blog is written from one dad to another. Mom’s, I encourage you to keep reading too because you’re our partner, and often our greatest supporter. Hopefully the single parents who read this will also be encouraged and challenged.

Most of us tend to view leading as something that’s work-related—it’s something we do with and for our constituents, co-workers, or congregants. And if we’re lucky, we hope that our leadership will trickle down to our family lives at home. But we’ve got it backwards.

A little girl asked her mom, “Why does Daddy always bring work home?”
Her upbeat mom answered, “Oh, Daddy has so much work to do that he can’t get it all done at the office.”
And the child said, “Why don’t they just put him in a slower group?”

If only it were that easy. Work flows to the competent, which makes time of the essence.

Living for the Ladder

The more you achieve in leadership circles, the more tempted you will be to put family on the back-burner. Don’t become consumed with climbing the ladder of success. Someday you may find yourself at the top of the ladder—all alone. The joy of success comes when your loved ones are by your side supporting you.

Since leaders are pretty time conscious, let me suggest three crucial times when you can lead your family.

  1. Mealtime: Guard it. Protect it. You may have to eat early or late—just make certain you do it together as often as possible. Harvard professor Dr. Catherine Snow followed 65 families over an eight-year period. She made this profound discovery: Dinnertime is of more value to child development than playtime, school time, and story time.

    If eating around the kitchen table trumps the benefits of school, then you’ve got my attention. At the table you can affirm, teach, listen, reinforce, and laugh! Life lessons can be learned here. So put away your phone and look into your family’s eyes.

  2. Travel Time: Like it or not the inside of your SUV or car has become the modern day living room. As you shuttle your kids to and from, you have quality training time. Jesus taught his disciples while he travelled. He always seized teachable moments.

    Leading your family isn’t measured by how many different directions you go. Non-stop activity rarely breeds character. Use your travel time to point your children in the right direction.

    You won’t always have them riding with you. Someday they’ll be driving separately, and it will be sooner than you think. Take advantage of your captive audience (see Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Remember you are raising them to release them. So use your travel time to prepare them for when you’re not there.

  3. Bedtime: Sometimes we miss out on this pivotal time to lead our little ones, especially Dads. I’ve been guilty of leaving the tucking in and bedtime prayers to my wife—that’s a leadership cop out on my part. You may spend your workday delegating duties, but please don’t do it here. This is an opportunity for each parent to affirm, console, encourage, and bless your kids just before they fall asleep.

    My parents took turns. Often one of them would pray by my bedside. “Oh Lord, I can’t wait to see how you are going to use Dave.” So, instead of falling asleep wondering if God could use me, I dreamed of how He was going to use me. They were vision-casting for me as an elementary student. That’s leadership in the home.

Restructure Your Day—and Your Priorities

Centuries ago, the Hebrews actually viewed 6 p.m. when the workday ended as the technical beginning of the day. What if you were to change the way you view the home front—and you allowed your family to get the first fruits of your energy instead of the leftovers? Your children need to see, hear, and sense that they are more important to you than your job.

Remember, in order to lead in the home you must actually be in the home.

Thomas Nelson, Dave’s publisher, has agreed to give 50 copies of his new book, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter to my readers. To get a chance at snagging one, you must take the following three actions:

  1. Leave a comment below. Answer Dave’s question at the bottom of this post.
  2. Fill out the special form. I have set up a separate contact form to make it convenient for you to provide your mailing address. Please do not put your shipping address in your comment. This will automatically disqualify you.
  3. Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can use Facebook.

On Friday, June 15, 2012, I will select 50 people at random. If you are one of those selected, I will notify you via email. If you don’t hear from me, you can assume you were not selected.

Question: Be honest—which one of these could use your leadership attention at home—mealtime, travel time or bedtime? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    Meal time. We’ve gotten into a habit of the children (5 yr old daughter and 3 1/2 yr old twin boys) eating around 5:00-5:30 and then I get in around 5:45 and end up eating with my wife after bed time.

    It’s been sticking in my crawl that I need to (a) lead us into having a basic 6pm meal time and then (b) making sure I’m home for it by (c) realizing leading at home sometimes means doing the unseen thing of being efficient and staying on task at work and shutting it down at a reasonable time and walking in home w/ plenty of ‘presence’ to give.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Brett, Thx for your honesty.  I loved your comment:  “I need to realize that  leading at home sometimes means doing the unseen thing of staying on task at work & shutting it down at a reasonable time”.  We can help insure a “win” at mealtime by working smarter when we aren’t at home. GREAT point Brett. Thx. 

  • http://deuceology.wordpress.com Larry Carter

    My daughter is almost 18 and will soon be leaving.  My son will be 14 and I have a few years left.  Through God’s grace, we have done most of this.  Thanks for the encouragement to continue.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      May we fathers learn from your example, Larry!

  • Noahsarahdad

    Meal time. Probably 3 days a week we eat our supper in front of the TV. That’s got to stop! Thanks for the wake up call.

    I would love a copy of this book to evaluate for my men’s Bible study group. We are going through The Resolution for Men right now, and this looks like a perfect choice for a follow-up.

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx…the book can work really well for a Men’s Bible study group (IF all are fathers) Lots of discussion points and as parents we all have plenty of room for improvement–I sure do.  btw, i love your user name (identity)—sounds like this parenting stuff is important to you!!

  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    Bedtime.  I think we get it right some of the time, but it can be a challenge to gather our energy for this end of the day important opportunity.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Thx Jon. When a kid is nestled in their bed, whether they are 4 or 14, they feel secure and in a “safe place” and are more apt to open up & share what’s going on in their life.  You described it well–important opportunity.  

  • BillintheBlank

    Thanks, Dave. I’m usually adamant about protecting all three but lately have let the mealtime thing slide in the rush of stuff. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Dave, this is a word that the world needs to hear. We often give and give to the outside world while neglecting the family. The world is now experiencing the effects of this backwards thinking. 

  • http://networkgooder.com Lee Glass

    Mealtime.  We tend to all have such conflicting schedules that we use as an excuse to not eat together all the time.  I will be working on this!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      Meals are so important, aren’t they? We’ve banned phones from the table … Huge help!

  • JasonPulley

    I find that most of us fail at some or all of these at some point in our busy lives. You are right, we put our careers above all else which can lead us straight to destruction.  It is easy to say “I am going to do better from now on” and another to actually do it.  We make excuses for our behaviors rather than own it and ACT upon it. I wrote a bit about this in my blog “Too busy to do that” where I talk about our family life as something that lacks the planning and attention that we give to work. It may be time for all of us to create a vision statement for our family and ourselves which we adhere to as we do in our jobs.

    • PastorDaveStone

      You are right on track Jason.  In fact the entire 2nd chapter of “Building Family Ties” leads a family in how to come up with their own mission statement. 
      Passion leads to purpose.  Purpose grows into mission.  Mission results in joy.  
      Thx Jason for the reminder to stop making excuses and ACT upon it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacob.a.hughes.1 Jacob A. Hughes

    I think travel time

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1349439689 Janet Birkey

      Jacob, What an awesome attitude to remember that you and your wife are a family, even if there are not children in your home! I am on the other end of the spectrum (my children are grown and almost gone from our home), but my husband and I guard our marriage fiercely…and making sure that we have interesting conversation is part of that.  

      May I encourage you to find conversation starters or something in the news that struck you as unusual and use it as a springboard to begin dinnertime conversation? You can Google this type of information…and it is a welcome break from the daily grind of inconsequential convo. 

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    All 3! But especially bedtime.

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      I find that the more we’re able to focus on the kiddos during bedtime, the better they sleep. We can get to the iPads later!

  • Darren Blaney

    Thanks Dave. Brought tears to my eyes. A real timely reminder. Thank you and bless you.

    • Jim Martin

      Darren, you are right.  This is a timely reminder for all of us.  A powerful post.

  • http://darensirbough.com/ Daren Sirbough

    all three elements of the day could use a revamp. thanks for the reminder. tomorrow’s travel into the city will be different

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      How will it be different? What will you do differently?

  • Eric

    Micky Mouse and his horde of Disney characters have successfully mutinied my ship, the Honda Odyssey! The in-car DVD player became a real influence-killer when we began to relax on the “only on trips longer than a half hour” rule. Time to become captain of that ship again.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Love your rule that the DVD player comes on only on trips longer than a half an hour.  You are a genius and a wise parent…if you stick to it–Captain!

  • Coach

    certainly mealtime…takes discipline to connect, but the connection between family members…creates important family intimacy!

  • http://wordsofwilliams.com/ Eric Williams

    I struggle with most with meal time. And right now our only child is only 3 months old, so we eat after she goes to bed. But for my wife and I it’s become more of a pit stop than a time to connect.

    Hurry up and eat so we can clean up the house and move on to other tasks. Meal time is something we both want to make a priority, once our children are eating table food, or sitting up for that matter, but we need to do a better job at it now as a couple as well.

    Great post!

    • http://justin.am/ Justin Wise

      I can totally relate, my brother. Just wait til you add the little one to the meal mix! That’s when the fun begins…seriously!

  • Kurtz Kevin

    Great post for Father’s Day!! Mealtime conversation and interactions needs improvement as our TV time begins when we sit down for dinner. We are forgetting how to interact and have allowed our schedules to push us into a poor habit.

  • http://www.warriorshepherd.com/blog Dave Hearn

    Dave, for me, the hardest one is bedtime.  We’re all tired, nerves are frazzled, mom & dad just want some quiet time together… and the kids just fight sleep. (and us!)  

    This is the time of the day I just need to slow down, spend some quality bedside time with each child, and end their day right.  I don’t do it well most nights…

  • Tola Akinsulire

    I’m recently married with no kids yet and still working on the discipline of keeping family time sacred. I really home I can do a better job as the kids are on the way

  • http://twitter.com/6schalls Michael Schall

    Meal time. On a couple days a week, I don’t get home until 730pm. With 4 young children, that makes it tough on my wife. Your post inspired me to be more intentional about using meal time on the nights I can be home as an opportunity to lead, inspire, and encourage. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    Great points and suggestions! I found that as a wife & mom, I had to sort of get out of the way and let my husband lead. I had to move to more of a supportive role, especially when he was home, and to less of “being in charge.” When I did this, my husband stepped up and really grew into being the leader of our house. The point that stuck with me the most, though all are good, is the one about travel/car time. Am in the midst of a series of posts on vacations, and I stress the importance of bonding not just in travel time but on the vacation itself. We take a couple of vacations a year for this very reason. My husband has had to deliberately choose to leave work at work too. It’s been hard, but the benefits are tremendous!

    • PastorDaveStone

      Great reminder to carry the family bonding time a step further–not just during travel time but also during the vacation.  THX.

  • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

    Great post Dave! As Michael Hyatt believes in “Intentional Leadership” I am very big on “intentional parenting.” We have family dinner every night, yes 7 days a week. My 12 yr old told us many of the kids in her school have dinner alone each night, and I can think of nothing sadder. I do try to be intentional with my parenting in the car, and we have nightly family prayer before bedtime. 

    “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass

    I’m pretty sure we’re on the same page Dave. So much so that my guest post for Michael was called Leadership Starts at Home, http://michaelhyatt.com/leadership-starts-at-home.html.

    • PastorDaveStone

       7 days a wk is tough when you have teens w/sports and part time jobs but your example inspires me Kelly!!  A good first step would be for all of us to try and increase by ONE more family dinnertime in the coming week.  in time…your 7 days could become a reality for others too!  
      LOVED your Frederick Douglass quote…that will be requoted in my upcoming Father’s Day Sermon.  THX

      • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

        Yes, I imagine it will be harder as my kids become teens. Both my girls play piano, and one does soccer, but we still try to make it work.  It’s critically important to me, as someone who came from a dysfunctional childhood.

        My husband always drives the girls to school every morning. Even 15 minutes alone in the car with them strengthens the relationship, and gives him time with them. 

        I’m so glad you wrote this book! It is SO important. Keep leading families!

        • Tracy Thomas

          Clashing worlds!!! Kelly, Dave is a good friend of mine from years ago!  We did LOTS of ministry together back in the day at Cincinnati Christian University.  Dave, Kelly is a member at our church, a dear friend, and does lots of writing for our church in various ways.  It always blows my mind what a small world we live in!  Great post, Dave.  Would love to catch up some time…

          • PastorDaveStone

            small world. great to hear from you Tracy.  good memories of CCU days.  hi to Janie. hope you are well my friend.  Glad to hear of your connection with Kelly too!

          • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

            It is a small world! Dave, if you know Tracy, then perhaps you should read my guest post here at Michael’s blog from last Friday. Tracy is the music minister in my post. He inspires everyone at our church.

          • PastorDaveStone

            haha  I read it last week and was one of the hundreds who commented on your post.  Loved it…but i had no idea Tracy was the music minister.  that’s great.  Loved your blog–even moreso now!

          • http://www.kellycombs.com/ Kelly Combs

            Ah! I just checked. I did see your post and replied to it, but didn’t retain it. Thank you for your grace. I know you will be able to relate after today!

          • Tracy Thomas

            OK, this whole thing is cracking me up!  I signed up to get all the email notifications last week, since the blog was about me.  Well, it wasn’t ABOUT me, but you know, it SHOULD have been about me. Aren’t things always about me?  :)  Anyway, what’s cracking me up is that I read all those, but somehow missed Dave’s comment and your reply.  How did that happen?  Honestly, I think I would have noticed…

  • http://twitter.com/LaurenRLynch Lauren Lynch

    What an inspiring post! Our household is currently in an unusual place, since my husband lost his job of 17 years and with few jobs in his field available, we’ve opted to start a business for him. This has necessitated me taking on extra freelance design work and I’ve struggled with keeping up my “mom” role. We’ve maintained our family mealtime as important (I was very encouraged to hear that it was more important than I had imagined), but I know I’ve failed lately at the bedtime hour as I work late to keep up with deadlines. Your story of your parents’ prayers for you really touched me! Although I’ve prayed that in private for my sons, I’ve never done that in front of them. I certainly will now! What a beautiful testimony of your parents’ Christian influence in your life. It is one I will emulate and pray that God will use me to help build my sons’ confidence in the same way your parents did for you… thanks so much for sharing that intimate detail of your formative years.

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx lauren.  i can still hear my parents voices in my mind saying that phrase and other encouraging ones.  Sure helps a kid sleep better when thats how the day ends.

  • Solidays

    Bedtime. Our daughter is a teen now and is comfortable taking herself t bed. Sure, it can be easy but we haven’t done nighttime prayers with her in awhile. Great article. Thanks.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s surprising how many teens still want to be tucked in at night, even though they’d never admit it publicly! My boys are now 15, 18 and 20, but all but the oldest wanted bedtime tuck-in straight through high school.

  • Shauna

    Mealtime can be tricky when pastoring. Setting boundaries are so important. Many people need counseling after work during dinner hours. We balance it out but it’s difficult.
    I love his blog post. So incredibly timely and practical. I’m going to repost it

    • Jim Martin

      Shauna, yes mealtime can be tricky when pastoring.  (Can also be tricky as the kids get older and get involved in more activities).  My wife and I decided there would be certain days of the week when we would have dinner as a family.  It just seemed to be important to our ministry to our family.  However, sometimes doing this was very challenging. 

  • Jviola79

    Having already raised my children, I can honestly say this is one of the best posts written on parenting that I have read. You have hit the nail on the head. I did all 3 with my children & thankfully & only because of the Lord, they are walking with Him & leading productive lives.
    I would love a copy of this book to give to my daughter & son-in-law, who gave birth less than a week ago.
    Thank you for the opportunity.

    • Jim Martin

      I am in a similar place.  My children are now adults.  This has given me some good distance to evaluate what we did and didn’t do as we raised them.  This is an outstanding post and affirms some of the practices we tried to maintain.

  • Jefflong55

    This is all great advice and I appreciate it. I really do. We should all follow these suggestions!! But it also another example of a phenomenon that I find fascinating: Mothers’s Day is an occasion to dote all over moms and lift them up as heroes. Father’s Dad is an opportunity to not the things Dads do wrong and pump them up to do better. I’d be curious to know what others think the reason behind this is. 

    Next year can we have a Father’s Day that feels more like Mother’s Day!

    • PastorDaveStone

      We’ve talked about this very phenomenon in many a preacher mtg around May and June.  The reason seems to be that typically Moms respond best to encouraging comments while Dads respond best to some challenge to change.  
      Others?  would love to hear your thots on Jeff’s comments.

      • Jeff

        “Dads respond best to some challenge to change”…  well maybe.  But does this have to be on a day when we are supposedly honoring dads?  Seriously, I’m all fine with laying out a challenge to be better father, hubands, leaders etc.  Heaven knows we need to be challenged more.  But to do this under the premise of honor is more like a bait and switch.  If you want to honor dads, fine.  Then make it a day of honor.  otherwise, I’d rather go fishing than get beat up from the pulpit with my wife and kids sitting beside me.

    • Jeff

      From on Jeff to another Jeff, I totally agree.  In fact, I come to the conclusion that I’d rather skip going to church on Father’s Day becasue it’s usually open season on how bad we are.  All too often, in evangelicial churches, we love to honor mom on her day, but we use Father’s Day as a weapon.  

  • Hilarym

    Definitely mealtime. We have gotten to the point where even when we COULD eat together, We don’t. I’ve shirked responsibility because the child isn’t mine–she’s my boyfriend’s daughter, but she spends about half of her time with us and your article has really opened my eyes to the fact that I’m not fulfilling on being the person I want to be for her. I mentor young women professionally but, to date, have left this young woman on her own, telling myself I didn’t want to overstep bounds. Thanks for the inspiration, I’m going to really step up for her–starting with dinner time!

    • PastorDaveStone

      you can do it Hilary.  sometimes the toughest are the ones closest to us–we think, “They wouldn’t want to spend time with me–it would be seen as too uncool.”
      but down deep–they long for it.  Good luck and God bless you.

    • Jim Martin

      Hilary, I appreciate your honesty and candor.  I wish you the very best as you step up for her.

  • Tim

    I have always made every effort to NOT answer my phone when I drive my son to school (other than those calls from my wife). This has been the best time for my son and me.

    I need to be more proactive with the tucking in/nighttime bedside prayers – my wife reigns in this area since I tend to go to bed before both of them – which makes it tough. I could, no, I WILL, take the lead in morning prayer times.

    On a side night, my son and I have a “Dad & Jacob” night everything Tuesday. It’s just the two of us eating, talking and some other activity. Once a month, we usually allow Mom to come along and be a part of the celebration! We are coming up on our 500th night (he is almost 15).

    • PastorDaveStone

      WOW Tim.  That’s awesome.  great example for the rest of us.  Hey, make that 500th Tuesday a really memorable one.  

  • Romulotaway

    Bed time. There is a very short time spend in meal time and besides it is seldom that the family is together  when they are grown ups and are working. unlike at bedtime, there is enough time for family devotion and can incorporate leadership forte there. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Bedtime is an excellent time for connection. My boys often would open up far more in the darkness of a bedtime tuck-in than at the dinner table. It was like relationship gold!

      • Jim Martin

        Michele, we also found that bedtime was a significant time for conversation.  Our girls would often say things that were on their minds that they never mentioned any other time.

        • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

          So true, Jim.

  • Billy Supardi

    Travel time. I cant multi task well when driving.

  • Romulotaway

    There is a good time to talk after the meal time. You can ask questions where they will not lost their appetite, and besides you could have a lot of time to ask how’s their day, at work or at school and give them advise and take time to pray before going to bed. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I agree. Mealtime is a great opportunity to teach and practice conversational skills.

  • Katie

    Vision-casting at bedtime will be a new resolution! Thanks for the reminder to be intentional! I will be sharing this post ad nauseum on FB, Twitter and during my on air breaks!

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx katie you are an encourager.

  • srvnGod

    I’m so glad you addressed this. My mothering heart loves both my children and the head of our home. We have just recently started sticking to dinner with the kids at the table and the children are soaking up the time with Dad. I’m sharing this with him, but I believe bedtime is where we tend to drop the ball.

    • Jim Martin

      Good for you!  You are moving forward and making progress.  Do I ever relate to this as a parent!  You move forward and then recognize other areas that need to be addressed.  Wish you the best as you and your husband move ahead together with this.

  • jsinthecity

    Mealtime . But this entire article brings me to tears. Got this email literally just as i was taking to my wife about how much im struggling as a father, not enjoying my oldest son and how i need to figure this out be use important a different pastor since age had kids, and i don’t like what I’ve become. The stress of homelife shows and i for a long time have felt like an inadequate pastor. How can i care for others when i can’t enjoy homelife. So i need to figure out how to make 6 or 7 or 8 pm the start of my day. Thanks for the most, and i do mean most, timely email blog post i think the spirit has ever sent my way.

    • PastorDaveStone

      God’s timing is perfect.  your comments wiped me out.  Remember everyone of us struggles in different areas and at different seasons of our parenting.  the fact that you talked about this with your wife is HUGE. The Lord can help restore the joy thats evaporated.  Don’t give up!  I really think the Book Building Family Ties with Faith, Love & Laughter can help you.  Thats not meant to be a commercial–just an encouragement from one brother to another.

  • Briana

    Bed time. When the children were younger, we had a bed time routine that included stories, prayers, and chat. My husband and I took turns and it was a wonderful way to close the day with them. Now that the boys are 9 and 11, they read on their own and turn off their lights at the appointed bedtime. At first we considered that increased responsibility and independence, but I miss that time and suspect that we all would continue to benefit from it, in whatever form it may take, for years to come. 

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      My 15 year old still asks us to tuck him in and say prayers. I thought I was giving him independence, but instead I was cutting him off from a special bonding moment he enjoyed. Who knew?!

  • http://blog.empact.us/ Craig Eddy

    Definitely meal time. Our family has strayed far from the “we will eat dinner together every day, at the table, without the TV in the background”, and I can see the negative impact that this is having. 

    It’s easy to say “ok, just for today you can eat in the basement”. But then it becomes a couple days a week. Eventually the slippery slope breaks up the whole process and the natural connections that mealtime provides break down.This post is incredibly timely in my life. Thank you for some fantastic advice. We’ll be getting back to family dinner around the table this very day.

    • Jim Martin

      Craig, good for you in recognizing this.  What you describe is what so many of us as parents have experienced (including me).  You look at the way your family is functioning and realize there are gaps.  Then you regroup and address these.  We did this with our children again and again.  Thanks.

  • Mike Kelly

    Meal time would be it for me. We gather whatever the kids want let them eat wherever, then we do the same. My family always ate around the dinner table. And now I have to lead in that way too.

  • Bill

    Unfortunately all three are a problem. I write this post as I sit in Washington-Dulles waiting for my non-stop to San Francisco. Another week away from home and away from my family. Having said that, even when I am able to be home, I struggle most with bed time. I just don’t spend the time I should praying with my step-son. Thanks Dave for reminding me of my priorities.

    • PastorDaveStone

      most of us who read your comments can relate.  we wouldn’t be reading michael hyatt’s stuff if we weren’t trying to maximize our time as leaders at work and home. YOU can do this.   Find a creative way EVEN when your traveling.  Record some encouraging words or a prayer for your stepson to listen to for when he goes to sleep.  when my kids were young, i taped bedtime stories for them to fall asleep listening to when i was out of town.  dude…they memorized them through repetition!!! is that hilarious. Go for it.

  • Pastorjd

    We are on th run so much, our meal times together are often eating out or on the road. While the kids were younger, bed time was a whole lot easier. It seems you hit the nail on the head with travel time. This has become the biggest opportunity for discipleship in our family. I definitely needed the reminder this morning to refocus. It is easy to preach this, andi have, but difficult to truly live it. Actions do speak louder than words. I hope to be more intentional in my efforts to lead my family.

  • Tony

    Now it is anytime! My twin daughters are 18 and headed for college in a few months.  We have used all three times as they have grown up and we see the fruit of what you are saying. Thanks!

  • Sam

    I and my wife we are missionaries in a school in South Africa. From 5 a.m to 9 p.m we are busy the whole week. No off. The time we can spend together is before going to bed where we can pray together and intercede or solve any issue. Thanks for updating us. It’s good for someone like you to remind us of our duty: “Leadership begins at Home.” Thank you again and God bless you richly. Sam

  • Tammy R

    Love this post, I am a single mom. I work mostly out of the home (and go to school), both my jobs allow me to do this. Which is great because then my daughter isn’t home alone. I realize I need to more clearly define when work ends, so she knows that I do what I do because I want to be able to provide for and and to get away from her.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great insight, Tammy. I don’t always do a great job knowing when work ends. There is always something to be done, and I let it creep into the time I should reserve for my family. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ibndzesop

    My boy is 8 months old and sleeps with us in bed, I drive him out every evening, sometimes with the mother. Any advice?

    • PastorDaveStone

      its difficult with the first child and in the first year.  But remember, never start habits you’ll have to break later.  Protect your marriage, as your first commitment is to your spouse and then the child.  In the long run the goal is you want the bedroom to be a place/haven for the two of you and not for the entire family.

  • Pilar Arsenec

    I have to admit my husband does a much better job at all three than I do. I work in a law firm and work long hours. I get home and rush around the kitchen preparing dinner barely having time to chat. While everyone is eating, I then rush to get all the dishes done. I kiss everyone goodnight and start the matathon again the following day. The only time I do get more time with my family (in between doing laundry and grocery shopping) is on the weekends.

    • Bonnie Clark

      Perhaps you could ask your husband to cook dinner one night a week – it doesn’t have to be fancy, even breakfast for dinner (kids love that).  He may not make what your would make, but it will give you time with the kids as he cooks. 

      Or maybe have one of your children help you prepare dinner, or help you clean up.  I’m not sure how old your kids are, but these are important life skills to have before leaving home.  I know a family who intentionally didn’t get a dishwasher because they paired up to do dishes (wash and dry) and had wonderful conversations and bonding times.

      My last suggestion is that when you make meals, see if you can make a double batch so that there are leftovers or an extra meal for the freezer.  It can make at least one night a little easier.

      Hope these ideas help. 

  • JimPoitras

    My wife and I raised two children on the mission field in Africa. Agree with the points made in this blog. Trust it will be a blessing to many young families.

  • Arun

    Mealtime is the best time to bond , discuss, comment , analyse, laugh , talk ,teach, ….It is a sacrosant time , where no distractions — TV. mobile , music , books  are allowed. Have a hearty meal and discuss and talk  and get life lessons. This is something which I have been doing in spurts. I need to ensure that it is done everyday without fail. It is a great way to provide leadership in the family

  • JimPoitras

    Probably travel time could use the most attention.

    • Jim Martin

      Jim, some of the most significant conversations that I’ve had with my girls (they are now grown and married) was on vacations when we were traveling.  I wish you the best as you give attention to travel time.  I had no idea it could be that significant.

  • http://www.growing4life.net/ Leslie Allebach

    My husband, a busy business owner (some would call him a workaholic), always made time to put our four small children to bed with devotions and prayers.  It was his special time with them.  As they have grown older, he makes time to listen to them and guide them from scripture.  He is never too busy to talk to them.  I am so humbly grateful for a motivated, hard-working husband who somehow was able to maintain his priorities through all of the craziness of owning a business! It is worth more than gold to a wife and mom!

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      That’s awesome Leslie. Now after the kids went to bed did he do work in the evening or did he turn the “business” off?

      • http://www.growing4life.net/ Leslie Allebach

        Well, we are still working on that one.  It is tough!  But he is always trying to figure out ways to give more to home life.  He doesn’t have it down, but he is also not giving up!

    • PastorDaveStone

       Thx for your comments and for what you said about your hubby.  regardless of our responsibilities we can do it if we try.  btw, husbands LOVE unsolicited praise–show your hubby what you wrote!

      • http://www.growing4life.net/ Leslie Allebach

        Already forwarded it to him :) 

  • Garrett Shurling

    Right on point! Even if you look at it from a performance basis, I am better equipped for the day when things are right at home.

  • Chris

    Great reminders and lessons to implement, thanks!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    I would definitely say meal time. I don’t use this time like I should. I’m pretty solid when it comes to putting my children to bed but meal times is where I need to regroup. Life seems to be about rushing and getting through it. As a pastor, it seems that we are always doing something or going somewhere so I need to redeem the time. I could definitely use some help in this area! Thanks for the encouragement.

    I will be in Louisville in August and would like to stop by the church for a visit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1392488019 Brock Bliss

    As an older father of adult children who have all moved out and on in their lives, now I look back at the times that were most teachable and leader – prone… and I must say that my wife and I have efectivly used each of these moments in their varied lives to lead. But to be Honest I feel that the best times were dinnertimes – and the few moments following, after the dishes were done and before the tv came on… thats when homework and household tasks were completed and everybody was home to help and participate… miss those times!

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    Dave, thanks for the thoughts on using these times well. As I community leader here at michaelhyatt.com and as a fellow Louisvillian, I want to tell you I appreciate what you and Southeast do for our community.

  • Jkleaphart

    Thnx Dave for reinforcing what we should all be doing! Great Post.

  • Schuemannlt

    Mealtime. I have a job that has ever changing hours and I don’t always get off at dinner time, sometime 6 or 7ish. Can make time slim and tight. Do not want the mealtime to be rushed…

  • http://www.facebook.com/dougpoppen Doug Poppen

    Great stuff! Can never near this too many times.

  • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

    Dave, I appreciate the reminder to use these different times well. One thing I picked up from Hyatt is at dinner asking everyone in the family their favorite part of the day. It’s a great way to share and to get conversations rolling.

    As a community leader here at michaelhyatt.com and a fellow Louisvillian I also want to thank you for all you and Southeast do for our community.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Thx jeremy.  that’s a great tip from mike hyatt too.  we sometimes did High/Low.  each share first the lowest point in their day  and the next time around the table their highest /best of the day.    The lows–give you some insight into what hurts or wounds them.  appreciate all you do Jeremy with the Hyatt gang.  the blogs, website and podcasts have breathed life into my leadership. THX

  • Megan

    Mealtime needs my attention. Sometimes I am doing awesome in this area and then realize three nights in a row that I have engaged my emails multiple times during dinner. It would be more appropriate to just leave the table and tell my family that work is more important than they are…not true, but definitely an area that I must grow in.

    In the end, I just get one chance to do things right with my family. God has blessed me with 7,000 days from the time that my daughter was born until she will leave for college. She is 3 1/2 now, but the days are clicking by very quickly. If I model giving my first and best to my family, that will prove to them that they are my priority. I’d love a copy of this book to learn more strategies to be successful in this area. I’ve seen too many leaders become losers based on how they treated their families and I don’t want that for my family!

    • PastorDaveStone

      loved your comments Megan.  They should encourage ALL of us to take advantage of those 7,000 days.  Good luck, with the Lord’s help you can do it.

    • Mark Cundiff

      Great word Megan!

  • armansheffey

    Meal Time and Bedtime I am pretty good at intentional leadership in my home. However, it has never crossed my mind to use travel time, which as road trippers we have plenty of, to be intentional with my family. I usually have my music going and talk with wife, but don’t often engage my 7 year old in meaningful interaction as she is often busy on some game or crafty activity.

    Thanks for pointing out a good opportunity to lead! I accept the challenge. I can’t wait to read your book, as family leadership is one of my main blogging topics at my blog, armansheffey.com.

    Be Blessed and be a blessing!

  • Annette

    Our family made the decision 10 years ago that my husband would be a stay-at-home dad.  Often I’m asked by working dads if I feel that my children are closer to their dad than they are to me.    I’m quick to reply “no”, that I think they are closer to their dad than they might be if he worked outside of the home but it in no way has lessened the relationship I have with them.  I have to believe that the strength that women bring to a family to build and maintain relationships is the reason for this.  As I read your post I realized my husband and I protect meal time, even if that means eating a little later b/c I have to work late or my coming home to eat and then logging back into work.  We definitely use travel time, but I do realize now we could be better about bedtime.  Thanks for the reminder and I would love to see more for stay-at-home dads and their wives.

    • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

      Sounds like a fantastic guest post idea! 

  • Deanna

    This is a great word for single Mom’s too!  It’s difficult to acknowledge that “everything” may not be able to “get done” but investing in what will COUNT in 5 or 10 years.  I often missed the mark, and am thankful for a redeeming God!

  • Jenifer Harrod

    Travel Time I guess. We don’t travel very much as a family. We only travel as a family to and from church. Occasionally to the store we go, but we have a large family and a small income so we use as little gas as possiblle right now.  I’ve been praying about more time to instract in righteousness with their Dad because his job has him gone a lot. Yesterday was great though he came home early because of the rain. God is good! WE had a lot of great time for Dad to lead at the supper table and it was so nice.

  • Charles

    What a tremendous post! We guard our dinner time and we have our bedtime devotions, but I must admit that travel time is an area I feel I could work on after reading this post. Sometimes when traveling I’ll turn on some kids stories so they can listen in the back while my wife and I talk. Using this time for teachable moments is a great idea and something I intend to work on. Thanks for the post.

  • MattC

    Bedtime. When I was consistently doing it, I enjoyed that time as much as they did.

  • http://twitter.com/RevCrum Allen Crum

    I would have to say for me it would be bedtime, it seem my wife and a I are on different schedules sometimes she goes to bed early and sometimes I do. But in both cases we fail to miss out on some important bonding time for both of us. While we are not parents yet, my wife and I are in the adoption process and hope to finalize before the end of the year. There are so many of our current habits we NEED to change soon. So we get started on the right ‘foot’ so to speak. 

  • http://www.heartyourchurch.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    This is a big deal for me right now as a relatively new Dad. I’ve been turning the “business” off no later than 5pm, unless I have evening networking event or training. The trouble is that in the early phase of my business I need more than 40 hours to move the needle. Any tips from seasoned vets on how to squeeze in the extra hours without shortchanging the family? 

  • Mike Wheatley

    Dinner time is my biggest struggle. Our work schedules overlap in the evening (she goes in at 7pm and I get off at 7pm through the week). They usually eat before she drops them off and I feel so rushed to get things done so they can get to bed at a reasonable time. I don’t like that lifestyle. I would like to change jobs to get off earlier in the day.

  • Patty Robinson777

    No matter how old you are you still need to work to maintain family traditions.  I’m a 58 year old grandmother and find I need to work even harder to maintain time with my children and grandchildren.  All the good things of life can squeeZe  out the best things.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/todd.stocker3 Todd Stocker

    For our family, Bed time.  When my kids were kids – how they’re High School – we did the ritualistic ‘tuck-in-and-say-prayers’ every night without exception.  Now that we all go to bed at different times, I should at least pop into their rooms when I’m off to sleepyland and give them a peck and a prayer. 

  • Andy

    This post really hits home for me and I appreciate the tangible suggestions. We all know we need to be better dads but we seldom know how to execute this successfully. Just followed him on Twitter and looking forward to growing into the role my son needs me to play.

  • http://twitter.com/clewis5039 Christopher R. Lewis

    Pastor Dave,

    Bedtime is my challenge.  By the time things have settled down for the night, and our daughter is “ready” for bed, both my wife and I are ready as well!  Sometimes we let her sleep in our bed after we read to her just because we’re too exhausted to bring her to bed.  I’ve pushed myself to do better in this area by minimizing my selfishness to go to sleep, and taking the reigns by putting our girl to bed.  I realize my wife needs a break so we will take turns.  Sometimes we put her to bed together, too.  Dads realize that when you put your children to bed by yourself, that’s another precious chance for you to show them how special they are.  Another chance to give them ALL your undivided attention.  When I read “Just Me and My Dad” from the Little Critter series to my daughter, it’s like taking her to the lake to fish.  It’s like a daddy-daughter date!  Kids don’t want/need a huge fireworks display when you show them they are important.  They just want YOU!

    -Chris Lewis

  • http://twitter.com/paulgustavson Paul Gustavson


    You had me at the first sentence. “Why do some of the sharpest leaders step up in the workplace but flake out when they walk into their home?”     

    It’s easy to come up with excuses and rationalize our behavior, isn’t it?  Long day.  Exhaustion.  “I’m spent.” or “I’ve got more to work on at home.”  But to your point – “The joy of success comes when your loved ones are by your side supporting you.”  Ahh – that comment resonates with me!  Who wouldn’t want that?

    Maxwell talks about the “Law of the Picture” and the “Law of the Inner Circle” in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.    Your blog post hits the ball out of the park of why we need to be the picture, why our family needs to be our inner circle, and how we can begin to maximize time with our inner circle.


    Paul G.

  • http://twitter.com/rodneybooe Rodney Booe

    Travel time. I’m selfish and I like to clear my mind when I’m in the truck. My 4 & 2 year old talk incessantly. Driving them into church or t-ball practice I just want them to be quiet so I can think and I know I’m missing out on a some great moments with them. Working on it.

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx for your honesty.  we can all relate—it gets better as they learn how the give and take of conversations work.  

  • Brian

    Travel time. I don’t do a whole lot of traveling. But this summer we are planning a trip from east to west coast, so we may get our fill then.

  • http://profiles.google.com/scott.david.w David Scott

    Bedtime is certainly the time for me to improve. Really two reasons: 1) I’m tired and I want to get to bed myself, but 2) I try to put off work that needs to be finished until my kids go to bed. So I need to rush them off quickly so that I can finish work and get to bed myself. Therefore, I cut my kids’ time short.

    Funny – I desire this “quality” time at night. I dream of it during the day and imagine what it will be like, but when it comes, I’m just. too. tired. Ugh.

  • http://www.themakegoodchoicesproject.org/ Michael Hawkins

    Dave – What a great reminder for dads (and moms too!).

    Living life at 150 m.p.h., we need to use every opportunity we have to connect with our kids.  For my family, dinner time seems to be the best time for sharing.  Instead of our usually ranting about the ‘bad’ stuff that happened during the day, we need to turn things around.  There are a lot of life-lessons that can be taught around the kitchen table.

    Your suggestions are so simple.  I need to put them into practice.

    Thanks for your post!

  • http://twitter.com/rickysant Ricky Sant

    Bedtime can use my leadership attention at home.  I have gotten into a pretty goof routine with my 4-year old.  I’ll tuck her in, praise her for being a good girl and do some positive affirmations with her.  Then I’ll leave but remind her to say her prayers.  She knows how to on her own but I think mom and I need to spend a little more time with her at bedtime to prayer together, talk about the day that was and what we have to look forward to the following day.  It’s also very important that neither parent leaves the child while still angry or upset at something they may have done that day.  Kids should be tucked in with all issues resolved.

  • Josiah Walker

    If I were honest, I believe all three need more attention from me! But, for the most part- travel time! More often the times that my daughter and I are in the car together, I don’t say much at all. I definitely need to use this time as a training and teaching opportunity! 

    Each one of these areas that you mentioned are vital to raising my child and something I want to focus on as my wife and I are divorced so the opportunities I have to speak into my child’s life have been cut in half! Thank you very much for sharing these thoughts and ideas today!!

    • PastorDaveStone

      wonder if you could share this Blog with your Ex and say that you’d love for both of you to be working on the same things–even if it’s in different homes.  hang in there…i’ll be praying for you and your family Josiah.

  • Keith

    Mealtime, because we are normally still in work gear. But after reading this, my heart has truly been touched for the better! Thank you, Keith

  • Jtrandolph

    Meal time.  Now that my children are older, we all seem to be be going in a dozen different directions all the time.  It is hard to maintain any type of consistency.

  • John

    Bedtime. This is something I usually leave up to my wife, and I know I am missing out on many opportunities to share with my children. They are growing up quickly and I’ve only got one shot…

  • Jessica B.

    Meal time and bedtime.
    We have four children, 5 and under, and a very cramped living space. Our three children that can feed themselves are the only ones that can fit around the table, so my husband and I each eat at our computer desks across the room.
    Bedtime is difficult right now due to various evening commitments.

    We’ve known that family meals are important, but have allowed ourselves to slide due to our various ‘excuses’ – there’s no room, we’ll do them when we move into a bigger house, etc. I really don’t see the bedtime scenario changing until the kids are a little older and can stay up a bit later, but we can at least “fix” mealtimes.

    Thanks for the encouragement, Sir!

  • Neal Taylo

    Sadly meal time and bed time…. Fell out of the bait of eating around a table as the kids got older and I sadly admit that is the same excuse for failing to tuck them in. I get home and bale being tired to tuck them in.

  • Aaron Householder

    As a senior pastor & dad of three young kids: Thank you, Michael.

  • http://twitter.com/DaveBratcher Dave Bratcher

    Thanks for this reminder of putting first thing first.  Thanks for this guest post.  We should start everyday reading things like this…and right before we go home.

  • TimRoehl

    Meal time.

  • Shawn

    Bedtime is by far the hardest for my family. We usually spend every last minute of the day doing”stuff” we deem so important…watching tv, going to the store, etc…that we are so wiped out at days end that we just rush through prayers and tuck in. This is the area I need to work on not short changing God and my family. I need to make certain I leave time at the end of our day.

  • GordonYowell

    I would have to say meal time as well.  While our daughter is only 7 months old, my wife and I have gotten in the bad habit of “vegging” in front of the TV while we eat.  I appreciate what Dave says here and think it is a great message to get out to the dads out there.  I really want to begin establishing positive habits NOW rather than later.  I know that rather than copping out for what’s “easier,” the important thing is to man up in the area that needs our leadership and follow through with consistency (something I struggle with!).  One final note: I think it is of the utmost importance for the men out there to surround themselves with other like-minded men for encouragement and support in all things ‘spiritual leader’ oriented.  Thanks again Dave!

  • cmh0225

    Travel time … my wife & I generally try to carry on conversations with our 18 month old twins while driving, even though it is mostly 1 sided at this point. :-) (assuming they are not sleeping of course!) But a future strength would be to use car time as teaching time as suggested. I often am so focused on the road & getting somewhere that those moments are sometimes missed.  I will work on improving in this area. 

  • vicki moag

    I would have to say bedtime.  As my children grow, the only one I do night time devotion with now is my youngest.  They will all get a kiss goodnight however, but nothing more.  Thank  you for this post today, that I may readjust my time spent with them at night time and pass along these truths to my husband.

  • Veritas

    Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  I think that covers all the time that you have to spend with  your child.  Then read Malachi 2:15 to find what God desires from a marriage.  Then read Malachi 4:4-6.  Is it easy to do in today’s world, no it isn’t.  Parents need to make time for the relationships that will last for an eternity.

  • Chad A Wilkins

    Bedtime! I delicate this one way too much. I am going to make a conscious effort after reading this post to work on our bedtime routine. Thanks for the great post.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    I would have to say meal time is where I fail most often.  It’s too easy to be distracted.  The kids want to watch TV, or one of us ins’t hungry and we eat later.  With 5 (almost 6!) kids, meal time can be hectic.

  • Jimmy Mercer

    Dave hit the nail on the head! Sometimes we all need a little tap on the head to bring us back to center. I am blessed in that my wife, Julie and I see the value of spending time together, in practice, she more so than me. When I show frustration while driving she responds with, “That’s OK honey, this just gives us more minutes together!” At home, I am blessed that it is also my office. But we do need to take Dave’s advise and eat at our table more than in the den with the TV. Thanks for this nugget of wisdom, Dave and Michael!

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielgriesbeck Daniel Griesbeck

    It was poignant to read this article this morning at the airport on the way home from a week away from my three boys. While I enjoy traveling for work, I often find myself taking for granted that my wife’s “got it” while I’m away. While she does a great job, she needs me. 

    I was reminded of how important it is that I continue to focus on leading at home to ease the times when work requires travel. 

  • Kevin Ivey

    Excellent. Excellent reminders of many things we instinctively know.  As parents we made a host of decisions to increase our time w our 2 children (daughter is 23 WOW, son is 15, going on 30)….I think we’ve done ‘ok’ but we are always reaching for more ‘face time’  with our son (my girl is on her own now, sniff). Dinner almost every night-Wheel of Fortune shortly thereafter (we luv ‘the Wheel’). Drive time: we are typically one of the main set of parents to shuttle the teens around…as both my wife and I ride in the front of our SUV, much can be learned by listening to the group of boys in the back and, on occasion, we tactfully (or not) will interject ourselves (values, ideas, etc) into the conversation….There are things we are working on b4 this one ‘escapes’ w his own driver’s license then college. Thank God for His Grace-His abundant, overflowing Grace! Blessings from Houston!

    • Kevin Ivey

      PS: I made the decision years ago to work from our home the vast majority of the time…this has affected our income over the years but I think the extra time has been a blessing.

  • purdier

    Bed Time. The day is winding down, we are in relaxatin mode, to rally everyone to pray before bedtime is tough. Tired, thinkng about the next day, different bedtimes,especially summer with kids off of school. I as the leader of the home need to get more disciplined with this. Tough stuff, however what a blessing when the family is all praying together, some of the most comforting times for me as a father to be a part of this.

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  • Kasey Cronquist

    Very timely! Thank you. I plan to step up and focus on tucking them in each night. Thank you for the encouragement!

  • http://www.honoracademydirector.com/ Heath Stoner

    Travel Time.  I need to do a better job of creating conversations with my kids.  Thank you Dave for your post.  It was excellent.

  • Chris Layfield

    For me and my family it’s probably drive time.  Although we do talk and enjoy our drive times as a family, we like so many others, have become increasingly reliant on watching DVD’s and playing games on the iPhone during commutes.

    As for dinner and nigh time, I do all the cooking in our home so meal time has always been a fun time for us and I’m always present (otherwise my wife and son will only eat cereal).  And somewhat naturally after my son was born, my wife and I set up a routine, one of us would give him a bath and the other would do reading and tuck-in.  It has swapped back and forth over the years (he is 5 now) and has always been his choice as to who does what, but we have been pretty consistent with this and it is a real sense of comfort and a confidence builder for him.  He has a say, we respect his choice to say who does what any given night and he gets to make activity choices and reading choices and we respect and give him that time.  I truly enjoy that time in my day.  I was lucky enough to have a very good friend who knew my heart well enough to introduce me to one of the best books I’ve ever read prior to ever having a son, Raising a Modern Day Knight.  This is a great read for every dad who has a son.

  • Jeff Smith

    While I could easily answer all of them, if I had to pick one it would be mealtime.  With everyone’s busy schedules it seems as though the dining room table has become storage space, rather than a place to gather for meals.  We ended up taking family vacations just to get our family together and actually eat every meal together.  Some of my best memories from vacations are of just getting to actually prepare and eat meals as a family.  I know I learned many lessons around the dinner table as a child, including respect and manners and I would like my children to do the same.

  • Mitch Miles

    It’s Travel Time for the Miles Family. Really appreciate the perspective of the car is the “living room” – it really has made me think about the critical moments in the car. Yesterday was the last day of school here in Greensboro, NC so this blog post could not have come at a better time as schedules, routines will change as we enter the summer months. I look forward to taking the summer to lead my family into better mealtime, bedtime, and time in the car priorities. Excited to read this book by Pastor Dave Stone and begin the summer with real tools to be the dad my daughters yearn for and need. Thank You

  • Pcoldiron

    Meal time is the biggest challenge for my husband and I. We are both present, but often the TV is on, and conversation grinds to a halt. We do spend quality time when we are at a restaurant, but need to find ways to turn the TV and phone off, and communicate.

  • Dave Briley

    I am a 58 yr old music pastor and I would give all the ministry years back TODAY, if I could recover some of those early years with my three children. No one ever shared these concepts with me as a young parent because we were trying to “do the work of ministry” and put that first. However, in God’s protection and grace, all three of my children love God and are serving Him effectively as adults. We must have done something right! But, as I reflect on your post, I could have done so much more! Thank you for these reminders. I can and will be mentoring others during the years to come to incorporate these concepts. Love the idea of of restructuring the day to begin at 6 pm and give your family your best! Difficult to do, especially in ministry when the needs of others seem to be 24/7 many times, but definitely a great reminder of serving our families first with our best.

  • Martincorder

    Thank you for the encouraging reminder! I agree with each of the opportune areas to try and speak into my children. We’ve been good about protecting the dinner time. One activity we often play while my kids are still young is the Mad – Sad – Glad Game. It brings out all sorts of laughable, teachable and unforgettable moments… even for parents. My weakest area of the three is the bedtime routine. I’ve preferred my wife’s ability to do it. This is usually the time I transition myself to dealing with the work load I have from the office. I agree I shouldn’t let work get into the way so much. I should be focusing on the last hour as valuable caring, relational building moments to encourage and bless my kids before they fall asleep. I will work on this… Thanx again for the reminder!

  • Carolynmarsh1

    This speaks to my heart…and has been difficult more because I’m a step parent and don’t have as many opportunities for these moments to begin with.  And I missed out on the younger years in my step children’s lives.  Now they are teenagers and older so any suggestions on how to continue trying to connect at that stage would be helpful!

  • Angi

    All three! But less so during travel time… what’s a good way of using that?
    We’re all guilty of bringing work home and staring into the phone…. good reminder!

  • Dan Erickson

    Absolutely.  Due to unfortunate circumstances I’m a single dad.  I have to put my daughter first.  She’s seven.  I cook the meals, get her to school and back, to bed, to karate, soccer, music, etc.  I take her on trips, too.  I have to balance my work as a college instructor, my writing and book promotion.  I put my daughter first.  Oh, and then there’s the dog.  He gets walked several miles almost daily.  In fact, the dean at my work in a recent review praised me for my ability to balance, confidence, and command, in all areas of my life.  I don’t consider myself a great leader.  I consider myself a simple man doing what I need to do, what’s right.  To me, it’s a no-brainer.  http://www.danerickson.net 

  • http://douglasryoung.net Douglas Young

    I need to put more into bedtime. My priorities are off-kilter. I rush, rush, rush and put little quality into my time.

  • mikefreestone

    Our kids are too old for us to tuck in anymore, but i will echo the importance of Dinner Time. It is precious and one of the best parts of the day.  We get an class by class recap of the kids still in school and it is so fun!  Don’t wish away the days while your kids are toddlers and they throw food…even those days are a blessing.

    • PastorDaveStone

      hey mike, while i don’t “tuck” my teens in bed, i still try to talk with them in their room before they fall asleep. it may be a brief prayer or a couple of minutes of listening to what’s coming up the next day. my experience is that they open up in that setting.  sometimes 2 minutes turns into twenty.  When they leave home, I’ll miss those occasional invitations into their world.

  • http://twitter.com/lornafaith Lorna Faith

    Thanks for this Dave…love your advice:) We were not really eating our suppers together for quite a few months, but then we recently started doing that again with our 4 teenagers. You’re so right, often that’s where we can listen and connect about the kids’ days and also have the biggest laughs! Would love to read your book :-)

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx lorna.  dinnertime reaps great benefits in a variety of areas.  Enjoy your years with your teens.

  • Joe

    Simple and to the point article but profound in its value thank you for sharing. I am blessed to be a father of two wonderful girls and between the three areas I can definitely utilize my traveling time to be more productive. As a product of a single mom I am greatful to God for restoring me to a place where I can give to my girls experiences that I did not have since there was no father in the house. We love our ‘dinner talk’ and we make a point to pray together at bedtime. Thank you again for allowing me to see how important is the harmony of roping the three together and to be used for a greater impact.

  • http://www.EmbraceEveryday.com/ Jenny

    In our home, it is mealtimes that could use some tweaking. This looks like a great book.

  • http://profiles.google.com/orlandojhs Orlando Hernández

    Greets and Blessings to you all from Venezuela.

    We´ve been married ´bout 5 years, and I feel thankfull to God that we can keep, mostly all days of the week, this 3 aspects to enrich our relationship. Taking this time as a privilege, can let us be more involved in our personal challenges, pray and encouragement for each other.

    Thanks a lot for this blog, continues adding value to our Leadership and effort to honor God with Our Service.

    In and By Him;


  • http://www.facebook.com/micky.diaz7 Micky Diaz

    Thank you for sharing this with me Dave! I have been brought into this world without ever seeing my earthly father and as a result, life has been very difficult for me ever since. Nevertheless, God has embraced me as His forever and have been surrounded by many godly men and women as they have influenced me to stay on the “straight and narrow” and as God enables me to do so, become a father figure that will share the love of Jesus into that child’s life and to my spouse as well. I definitely agree, leadership does start at home.

  • Sylvia

    What awesome timing!  Bedtime is where we need to focus our attention.  My husband was just talking to me about making sure we start doing this with the 3 foster kids we got last week and their ages are 10, 12 & 14 so it’s a little more challenging than with younger kids.

  • http://www.ablindfish.com/ Robert Mitchell

    For me it is bedtime. I am a big part of the bed time for my four kids through reading a book, reading a passage from the bible, sometimes praying the vision prayers for them. So why you ask is this the one I need to work on? Well the problem is this is the one that I will rush and shorten or cut out items if there is “something else” that my silly mind thinks is more important for me to attend to. So the result is my kids get a frazzled dad trying to rush them off to sleep, and that doesn’t always seem to work. I end up losing both ways. One my kids don’t get quality time with me. Two they end up not being calm and I have to go in serveral times to get them to go to sleep which pulls me away from the very “something else” that I thought was so much more important. Ha! Why do I try to fool myself? Thanks Dave for your thoughts and encouragement. I will try better to be more present in bedtime.

  • Richard

    Absolutely loved this – Often one of them would pray by my bedside. “Oh Lord, I can’t wait to see how you are going to use Dave.” So, instead of falling asleep wondering if God could use me, I dreamed of how He was going to use me.

    Thanks for this…

  • Brad Bandemer

    Loved the guest post. Wife and I celebrate Shabbot at 6pm Fridays for past year and it has been life changing. Now I am motivated to be intentional about every dinner meal as a family. Thank you for giving us this practical way to walk out Deut 6:4-9.

  • Cwatford

    Travel time.  I can still be engaged with my children (and should be) even when I’m not home.  I’m still their father and they still my involvement and my guidance even when I’m not home with them to impart it.  Of course, I’m speaking of extended time away and not just a few hours or even a day.

  • Rcruz67

    Meal time & Bed Time is the most important time for both my wife and I to comunicate and connest with our kids hearts. We have a family rule of no cell phones at the dinner table its a sacred time for us a s a family. I need to intentionally utilize the bed time more for praying with my kids and taucking them in even as teenagers Thank you for the article a great reminder of KEEPING Family Focused.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaroncz Aaron Chavez

    This really hit home. Thank you for posting it. Just last night after playing at the park we took our kids to DQ to have some ice cream. An older gentlemen approached us and adviced us to enjoy our kids to the max. Saddly all he did was work and he missed out on their child hood. Now he wishes he could go back and play with them, but it is too late.

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx aaron.  i talk in the book about how my Dad used to act like the car had a mind of its own and he would start making turns and we’d end up at some DQ that we didn’t know was in the area.  Great memories.  keep going to the park and DQ too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1084668405 Eddier Naranjo

    Definitely mealtime is my preferred time for leading my family. It is the time where we are the most alert and receptive. I know I am not doing a good job right now but this post has motivated me to improve. The other two times are also good times but I believe that there are many distractions during travel time and and at bedtime we are ready to sleep so we can’t engage too deep into a conversation. These two times are great for short and straight shooting messages but not for long speeches.

  • Earl A.

    Travel time-, but more specifically teaching them to put God first and showing them that I put God first in my life. I need great improvement in this area.

  • dooger1973

    Thx for the reminder Dave.  For Travel time needs to be reclaimed.  We have 5 kids so it can be pretty chaotic and loud but remembering to capture those times can be golden.  I look forward to the book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/leaann.mcgregor Lea-Ann McGregor

    Bedtime. We all have different work schedules and don’t make it a priority to put the family first at a particular time.

  • Bonnie Yvonne Wolfman

    Family gathering at meals was pivotal growing up.  It provided an opportunity for my parents to realize “the state of their herds.”  Living the modern fast paced life is definitely not conducive to family intimacy.

    Personally,  I have continued the tradition I grew up with and have witnessed the positive effects on my adult children.  I am thankful for author’s that are willing to take risks and share their transparency with the world.

  • brentmkelly

    These all hit me square in the face.  Like many parents, my excuse for not doing some of these things is that I am tired.  It is an easy excuse, but it isn’t valid. How can we ever be too tired to spend quality time and teach our children?  

    I am trying to really focus on giving my full time and attention to my family and not just “being there.”  This is great advice.  Thanks.

  • Deanna Gibbons

    Meal time has always been a priority at our house, even as kids have grown into teenagers.  Same is true of travel time.  I find when they are trapped in our car, more of what I say to them sinks in (as long as the earphones aren’t in.).  So definitely bedtime is the tough time of day for me. 
    I used to be much better at it, but as I’ve gotten older with more children and responsibilities, the bedtime hour has decreased to 15 minutes.  I’m tired after working all day and am just hurrying them into bed so I can have my quiet time.   Need to work on this.

  • http://twitter.com/CabinetDoork Jeremy Carver

    Great post Dave.  I couldn’t agree more!  Thanks to Michael Hyatt for sharing this.  Mealtime, bedtime rituals, and positive travel time are top priorities for us with our 20 moonth old son.  I’m going to need to better develop a travel time method as our son gets older.  Without children for 14 years, my wife & I were very present in our nieces lives and we did our best to make positive use of our travel time.  Facts, ideas, conversations on values, questions about their interactions and strengths would be frequent travel time topics.  I thought we were doing great with that stuff untill the younger niece commented to her mother about my “SPEACHES” when they traveled with us.  She was 10 but I was still crushed.  We were just trying to pour into them.  I guess I’ll just need to be less lame in our travel time in the future! 

  • http://twitter.com/MattMcWilliams2 Matt McWilliams

    Great post Dave!

    None of the above, BUT my overall leadership at home sucks.We actually do a good job of eating dinner together as a family, with no media at all. And almost every night we get together with our 14- month old daughter around 8:00, read a story, learn a few words, read from the Bible, and pray together. It’s about a 45-minute time together and we have done it from day one. My favorite time of the day.But the big one for me would be to add some time specifically for my wife. Just her and 30 minutes of conversation. I don’t like deep conversation that much so this is a stretch and I am going to do it.

  • Pingback: It’s All About The Family « Pastor Sargent's Blog()

  • Krdajois

    It’s not the big accomplishments in life that frame our successes, it’s the small consistent one’s. Thanks for sharing this simple, yet engaging article.

  • Krussell

    The best thing about Dave’s book is that he’s TP’d it – tested & proven! Dave and his wife Beth have modeled the way, not just for their kids but for so many other parents. They are genuinely humble, contagiously joyful, and extremely generous. So thankful to God for their lives and ministry.

    • PastorDaveStone

      thx so much krussell…you all are raising your daughter in a great way and you are leading well at home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danieldeanhartman Daniel Dean Hartman

    Driving time is a great time to connect with my three boys.  Just last evening on the drive home from a baseball game I was able to listen and help my younger son work through a difficult time he is having with his baseball team and coach.  I was able to encourage him and pray with him at the same time.  After reading your article I was very encourage to know we are on the right track.

  • Winston

    I would have to say that bedtime would be the time that I really need to step it up. If I as a pastor can pray for everybody else and their families, surely I should take the time to spend with my little ones teaching them to pray and praying with them and tucking them in at bedtime. It is so easy to get comfortable on the couch in front of the TV and just send them off to bed. This precious time will be gone soon and surely don’t want to have regrets. Sooo, thanks for the nudge to get off the couch and spend some quality time with my kids!

  • Dwannewsome

    I really enjoyed your post and it is so timely for all of us.  As a father of two daughters and grandfather of four grandkids (one set of twins), I concur with all the “times ” that are essential to connecting to our kids.  I wish I had spent more “play-time” with my kids, which can be incorporated into all the time slots you mentioned.  I do now spend much time with the grandkids and I believe that laughter is one of the signs of a healthy home!

  • DanKnight

    Bedtime, but all three could have used my attention. I stress could have (past tense), my son Justin passed away 4 years ago. He was a special needs child, so mealtime he had to be spoon fed (hard work, but we had respite workers), travel time he loved watching the scene fly by the window, so not much interaction; bedtime, he loved me rubbing his back or reading him a book (not that he understood the words) I, however, was too tired and burdened with other “important” things to do, and often resented the length of time it took for him to nod off. I didn’t understand the “words” of non-verbal communication: the bonding he relished just by my gentle physical touch and presence. I was the handicapped one.

    Now he’s gone: called home at the age of 17; My wife grieves much more intensely; I regret more than grieve. The one who loves much has much…and loses much. This life is the realm in which we build our home in heaven: I’ve lost the opportunity to lead in Justin’s life. I long to see him again in the next, and then we’ll both experience true Fatherly leadership.

  • http://twitter.com/KyleBJohnson Kyle Johnson

    Mealtime for me for sure.  We have a tendency to eat in front of the tv, or let our daughter roam and eat.  This week we have been unintentionally sitting down as a family.  I like that, and we’ll continue to do that.

    Thanks Dave for this reminder!  As I young dad, I want to take everything I can to heart on being the best dad I can be.  

  • Cyle

    Bed time.  I heard the stats about the importance of meal time, and I have been working diligently on making that a priority in my home.  Often though, my children fall asleep on the couch and we don’t get to have the quality bed time we need.  I need to make bed time earlier so we can establish it’s importance for building relationship.

  • Kevin Tuttle

    Giving our family the firstfruits of the day….great thought and encouragement.
    About a year and a half ago, we as a family started protecting our Friday evenings to Saturday evening. It’s our Sabbath. My wife and I are both in ministry and our family spends much of our time serving others. Our protected and intentional time together has been blessed an is looked forward to by all. We have three teens (14, 14, 16) who have started to bring home friends to join our Sabbath time. It’s a time of sharing, encouragement and teaching.

    Thanks for your heart and passion!

  • Cory Smith

    Travel Time.  There are many times when I engage myself to much into the radio.  Whether it be music or talk radio.  I have realized recently that sometimes my kids are just looking out the window.  This would be a good time to have a conversation.  Even if they are just 4 & 2 years old.

  • Michelle Brinson

    Travel time. I’m a single mom and the time in the car is about the only time I have where I can talk to my mom… so most of the time I’m on the phone with her. After reading this I feel more challenged and compelled to engage with my son while we are in the car. This morning we sang songs. It blessed my heart to hear him sing Jesus Loves Me. He’ll be 3 in a few weeks. Thanks for this reminder.

    • PastorDaveStone

      keep singing Michelle…it will pay off for years to come!!

  • http://twitter.com/eccle0412 Jackie Anderson

    Thanks for validating our practices. Weakness in our home of 5, 2 launched, 3 teens remain, bedtime.  When children were little it was “easy” to read every night and pray but now. the times they are changing. Teens are tired at end day. Go to bed different times. With the older ones I often found this late at night time was their prime talking time.
    I am going to practice the “day begins at 6pm” perspective and use that evening time to debrief individually.
    Great post!

  • Chris

    What an awesome article.  I would say that this is a “parental gut check” article.  Thank you Michael for making me constantly reevaluate my life, in every area.

  • Kim N

    I know this is aimed at dads, but it is good advice for all parents, really.  As a homeschooling mom of  4, I am with my kids a lot (obviously), and by bedtime I sometimes think that I have ‘earned’ a break.  The reality is, time IS short and their hearts are much more open at bedtime.  That’s when we can process thru the day and sometimes it’s the only time you can see beyond the behavior/busy-ness of the day to see what is truly in their hearts – in that quiet, sleepy space before bed.  I need to make more of a point of tucking each of them in instead of sending them up the stairs with a ‘Good night!’


  • http://www.facebook.com/audrey.l.godwin Audrey L Godwin

    Bedtime is the time where I want to step up my leadership.  And it is a challenge having an almost 16 year old and an 11 year old.  I am committing to vision cast for my children tonight.  It is simple, but brilliant.  Being a single parent has its challenges, however, to be able to release my oldest in two years, there has to be different leadership in this area for our family.

    • PastorDaveStone

      You can do it Audrey.  i love the reassurance in Psalm 68 that God is a “Father to the fatherless.”  Keep casting the vision.

  • Cory

    First of all….Great stuff Dave!!  Thank You!
    I would say mealtime.  Some of my fondest memories growing up revolved around the dinner table with my 3 brothers and my parents.  That was our haven of sharing, talking, joking and listening.  It seems so much harder now to make the time to get my family to sit together for a full meal!  Unless we go out somewhere for a special event!  I guess it’s easy to blame it on the “Times”…but that’s a cop-out, and I know it!  It takes effort and leadership to establish this in the home on a consistent basis.

  • Kristopher Stout

    Mealtime.  All three kids are in “full baseball mode” right now.  Each one, different nights…then when we are all home for something other than a burger at the game, it’s all too easy for the habit of eating together to have taken a serious hit.  When we lived in France for 10 years, the kids actually came home from school for an 1.5 hour lunch!  I would come home from the office…it was great.  

    Thanks for the reminder.  I am going to step it up and get us to sit it down!

  • http://www.facebook.com/angela.hays Angela Shaw Hays

    As a Pampered Chef consultant, part of our goals and vision is to encourage family meal times.   Even for me, however, it is difficult.  Both parents have to make it a priority.  Some tips to help make it happen: 1. Know what dinner is going to be by noon at the latest.  If you have a plan, it will happen.  2. Have your table cleared of mail, homework, etc before you leave for any afternoon chores.  3. Choose meals that the whole family enjoys, when possible, but frequently include one new food for everyone to try. 

    When I’m not deliberate about planning and fixing dinner, each person goes their own way and we don’t have dinner together as a family.  Be intentional and it will happen!

  • ImLivinGolden

    I’ve always used mealtime and travel time to lead my family. I’m lacking in the bedtime area. I usually engulf myself in work after dinner, and have neglected this critical time to teach, affirm, encourage, and console.

    My daughters are now teenagers, how can I recapture bedtime as a leadership moment?

  • Kristenbaiocchilila

    All of the above…. we are expecting our first child next month…..we have a hard enough time coming together to eat without the tv and eat at the table (we both work long days at ft jobs) but have sensed this needs to be adjusted….. startign to work on it now…

  • Melanie

    Wow! Thank you for all your advice. It sounds like you had great parents who know exactly how to pray and lead. Its hard to be a parent with out the proper role models in your life. I have raised my kids the opposite I was raised because it wasn’t a Godly home.

  • nasrin naraghi

    Travel time.  My daily commute taking my son to school has become a very special time for us.  We pray together for a few minutes for our family during which we set daily goals for my son.  He is very attentive during this time and gets very charged for school.  I feel that this has become our special time together.  

  • Kharrington1010

    I am not yet married… no kiddos, but would like to give your book to a friend who is eager to step up as the spiritual leader of his household. He has begun the table-time habit, but admits that its easy to fall into the comfort of letting his more outgoing wife take the lead, & wants his kids to expect more of him. I wish there were more men who could admit that. Admitting our part in a problem is the first step in solving it. One of the hallmarks of leadership.

  • The Gang’s Momma The Gang’s Mo

    I’m a mom who could really sharpen my bedtime skills. I admit that I am awful at taking time and investing in those last minutes of the day. Thanks for the reminder to make the moments count when leading my kids.

    Sharing this with my hubby!

  • Dawn Schalow

    In reflection, travel time has been the gift that keeps on giving for our family. Without realizing it initially, it has been the way in which we have built very strong and meaningful relationships with our sons. Traveling together to many sporting opportunities has offered what we call “captive audience time”. Being able to talk with them about their dreams, hopes, fears, and to ask them questions, and get to know who they really are as individuals has been invaluable. In many ways it would have been easy to let them “plug in” to their electronics for a quiet ride on the long trips but we chose to create an environment during our travels that offered the opportunity to talk, laugh, and share what was on their minds too. The intentionality of taking the time and making it something of value has fostered a deeper level of appreciation and love for one another that I believe will impact our family in the next generations. To be honest, I think whether we consider meal time, traveling time, or at bed time, our learning has been around making the intentional effort to regularly connect with our children and let them know we love them (regardless if they are 3 or 20). It is also essential to show genuine interest in their life and be willing to learn from them as well. We are experiencing that now as our older son says continues to tell us how he misses being part of the talks in the truck and the stories we share so now we make an effort to do it around the dinner table when he is back home visiting.  It will always be something we do and know it will need to be changed as they move into their own adult lives. Let’s hope we always get to talk, laugh and share as families.

  • http://twitter.com/JoshuaWRivers Joshua Rivers

    My current job begins at 3 PM, so I miss supper and bedtime most nights. When I am at home, I take the time to pray with my kids at bedtime. I need to improve the mealtimes together. We use our schedule as an excuse to eat separately or at different times.

  • Seth Edden

    Thanks Dave & Mike for writing and posting this. I definitely need to focus more on the travel time opportunities. This sounds like a great book for any father!


  • Chlee235

    I am fully convinced that leadership start with our family. I have learnt from my life experiences that we can only lead others well if we have led our family well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mnmhowe Michelle D. Howe

    I would say mealtime is the time we struggle with and of course this might be the most crucial of all three.  Cooking does not come very natural to me therefore a conscious choice to prepare ahead of time is what needs to come into play for me to make it happen.  I have seen the value of it when we do sit down during the week.  Thanks for the great post!!! 

  • Michaelcomptonjr

    I’m  a fairly new dad looking for some guidance :)

  • Joe Z

    Mealtime, for sure. It is a constant struggle to find the time to eat meals together as a family. However, I agree that is one of the most productive times to have family discussions. As my kids get older, and are involved in more outside activities, I sense this trend may only get worse. My hope and prayer is that I will be intentional about family time around the time, maybe not every day, but certainly more often than not.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Joe, Mealtime can become a great time for your family.  In my book, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love & Laughter i have an entire chapter devoted to ideas for mealtime and the joy that comes out of it.  One of the most painful punishments for our kids would be to have to LEAVE the dinnertable…they didn’t want to miss out on the fun. You are wise to try to get a handle on it before your kids turn 15-16 and part time jobs and sports schedules get crazy.
      hang in there joe!

  • DanielleRobinson

    Thanks so much for this post! My husband and I both work full time, so our family time is very precious to us. My husband is a wonderful leader for our family, but I think where we can both improve the most is bedtime. Our two year old daughter doesn’t go to sleep easily, so when bedtime rolls around, we’re more focused on getting her to sleep rather than bedtime prayers. Definitely time to make some changes here!

    • PastorDaveStone

      Now’s a great time to get control of it–as it gets tougher as they get older. Establish the routine that works best, include bedtime prayers and that habit in time will let her know that it’s time to fall asleep.  you may even want to initially reward her the next day when she does go to sleep well.  God bless Danielle.

      • DanielleRobinson

        Very true. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • http://evadingmediocrity.wordpress.com/ Nate

    Mealtime. We almost always eat as a family, but I often excuse myself from the table early in order to go put my feet up ( also known as wasting time on my electronic devices.) My wife called me on it a little while ago, and I have started to change how I think about it. This is usually when the fun stories from the day and the teachable moments occur, I can’t keep on missing out on this time. Thanks for the awesome reminder, I have forwarded your email on to many fellow Dads, we need to step up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/matthew.caiozzo Matthew Caiozzo

    I would say bedtime, of course I am saying this as  a parent who has no little one’s at home anymore, but a young adult that is married. So my answer is more of looking back and realizing where I could of been a whole lot better. I would say the reason bedtime,  because as your children grow into youth and young adults we tend to have different schedules, most young people have TV’s, Computers, Smartphone and game consoles that keep  them occupied. As a parent we tend to just think they will be fine and as long as they are in there room at least they are home. 

    After reading this post I realized that myself as a parent should of taken a more leadership and proactive approach and implemented some sort of family prayer time a couple nights a week or on the weekend,  no matter what the age.  

    Like you said in your post we tend to forces on climbing the ladder of success and forget that the most important place to be successfully is at home. 

    Thank you for sharing it is a blessing. 

  • http://twitter.com/PastorRobHall Robert Hall

    Great post! Very encouraging and challenging. For me, it’s bedtime. My wife and I often take turns, but there is no doubt that my wife does the lion share. I need to step up!

  • Scott

    These are sme great points! I have a 19 yr old and a 20 year old and have really been praying for them their whole life. I have two younger ones that have taken my attention in the last few years, so I have not made the time with my older boys like I should. Good reminders!

  • http://www.nosuperheroes.com Chris Lautsbaugh

    I can do better at bedtime, although I can be more purposeful at the first two. My worst time of the day is at night, but I need to engage more for my kids. I’m hoping to get one of those books since I am a Dad in ministry and will be for the rest of my life. I want all the input I can get!

  • http://twitter.com/davestadel Dave Stadel

    For me, bedtime needs some attention.  This post confirms what I’ve been feeling and motivates me to make it more of a priority.

    Mealtime has been especially important at our house.  We have five kids and have always eaten at the table with no radio, tv, or other distractions.  That time is precious and we make the most of it!

  • Ivan Divino Sr

    I may be too late for the book, but I will still leave a comment so that I can be held accountable. Probably not by someone here but at least within my own heart and with the Lord. My mealtime has consisted of family time together but almost always in front of the TV. We all watch something together, especially family shows, but we are generally entertained by someone else other than each other.  I will commit to more us time while eating than “watching” time. Thanks for the reminder!! GB

  • Erin

    Definitely meal time for our family. I’ve realized while reading this article that we have allowed extra curricular (including church related) activities dictate our meal times. As a result we normally don’t take our evening meal together. I am going to talk to my husband to brainstorm with me about how we can work the extras around family time. Thank you so much, I really enjoyed and got a lot out of this article.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Hi Erin, we are all guilty of letting good things crowd out the best things.  sounds like you and your hubby will come up with a good plan.  
      Half of the battle is deciding that you are going to be intentional about it.
      God bless.

  • http://BrentFielder.com Brent Fielder

    Love this!  thanks for the post.  I have been fighting the idea of a permanent DVD player in my car for years… and this is another way to look at it for not having one.  You are right, we are in cars a lot and these are our new living rooms.  We have such a great opportunity to raise our families and influence them while we travel.

    Jesus taught the disciples while traveling… Love it.  Great reminder.

  • http://www.jackiebledsoe.com/ jbledsoejr

    This is a FANTASTIC post! Thank you for sharing!

    I can honestly say that I am leading in all areas, although not perfect.  Mealtime at our dinner table has been a staple in our household for years.  Bedtime is a wonderful time to listen to our kids and vision-cast through our prayers (I never realized we were doing that until reading your post).  As I type/think travel, time can use some work…we don’t do it often but occasionally Radio Disney will get our time and attention in the car.Awesome post!  Would love to win the giveaway and see what other gems you have in your book.

  • James Dedeaux

    Bed time.  Although my children are grown and have families of their own; we do have the granchildren over regularly.  I am guilty of letting Grandma put them to bed.  I have missed a huge opportunity to teach and be an example to them.  I believe it is important for me to take the time to tuck them in, read them a story, and pray with them.  Thank you!

  • Esthomp

    Mealtime…we have the TV on too much during this time.

  • Lynn Briggs

    I was relieved to hear you say bedtime is a great time for Father’s to connect.  My husband puts our 4 children to bed because I, as a stay at home mom, am spent by the end of the day.  Now, I don’t have to feel quilty for ducking out in the pm.
    Our meal time could use more “Protection”.  We try to eat together, but work has a way of slowing chipping the urgency of being home on time.  Thanks for the great reminder!

  • Steve

    Honestly, mealtime but that would mean I would need to step up and help plan the meals and prepare them in order to stay on schedule. I am a very schedule type person but in our home mealtime can occur anywhere from 6pm until 7:30pm even though I am home everyday at 5:30. I do not stay over at work or bring work home with me. I refuse. I would prefer to eat at a set time and reconnect and hear about everyone’s day but since my wife also works at her choice when she doesn’t have to, mealtime is our most stressful part of the day. I am struggling on how to lead and encourage and help my wife to save some of her energy for family time. What to do? I do make sure to tuck my kids into bed each night but do that alone and want to incorporate prayer then too. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ricardo.butler1 Apostle Ricardo Butler

    This hit home for me. I am bad at this, but I AM GETTING BETTER! This is a week areas that I have to be very intentional about. I actually have to make this my number 2 AND 3 priority after my worship and fellowship time with God. I also had to put down business and ministry books and pick up 5 Love Languages (for mates and children) by Gary Chapman, Dad in the Mirror by David Delk and Patrick Morely, and I just ordered Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs after I went through there 6 week seminar at Church. If I want my family to blossom I have to water my own grass. That’s where it is always greener. My wife is my first ministry and my 4 kids are my first disciples.

  • Chris

    For me I need to rededicate myself to the bedtime routine with our children. Lately I too have been guilty of leaning too heavily on my wife to fulfill (and enjoy) bulk of the tucking in, story time, and prayer duties. To your point about the ancient Hebrews viewing 6pm as the start of the day, I want to ensure that I’m giving my family the best of me and that I continue to make them my most important work (rather than expecting them to be satisfied by the leftovers).

    Fortunately, we always enjoy dinner together as a family and quite frankly, it is one of the best times of the day when we all have a chance to connect with one another and share our “highlights” and “low-lights” of the day.

  • Steven Ibbotson

    Right now I think I’m doing pretty well at mealtime and bedtime so I guess I could make better use of leading during travel time!

  • Marc Donaldson

    We do all three with our 5 year old; perhaps mealtime could be fine tuned… fighting for it consistently, especially as he gets older. Adjusting our eating times according to our schedules so that regardless of the meal time it is always eaten together. Meal time prayer and conversation naturally flow. Come, Lord Jesus and make all things new!

  • http://twitter.com/n2theword Steve D.

    Mealtime is always an adventure our house. With 4 kids there is never a dull moment. We eat as soon as I get home from the office. As soon as we have our prayer the sprint is on for everyone to tell what happened that day – kids and adults alike.
    My wife is at home with the kids all day so she is looking forward to talking with someone who’s voice had already changed. The kids like to “one-up” each other and try to have the most interesting story to tell. It’s fun – and a great diversion from the pressures of office life – but it can get out of hand at times.

  • http://twitter.com/JCollierAR Jordan Collier

    Bedtime. As a father of three under three (yes, you read that correctly), by the time bedtime rolls around, my wife and I are wiped out. Instead of slowing down, our goal is to get them into bed as quickly as possible. I would love to get some help with this. I’m trying to be a good dad– just never had it modeled for me. My two sons and baby girl need to see the right kind of leadership from me. As of now, sadly they’re seeing something only slightly better than what I had.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Todays a great day to put yourself on the path to improvement.  3 under the age of 3 must be pretty taxing–but as your sons get older it will improve. Philippians 1:6  He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it.

      • http://twitter.com/JCollierAR Jordan Collier

        Thanks for the kind words, Pastor Stone. In addition to Philippians 1:6, I am encouraged by Psalm 127 (especially verses 3-5).

        • http://twitter.com/JoshuaWRivers Joshua Rivers

          Consistency is definitely a big key. Keeping it around the same time is important. They obviously don’t understand the concept of time yet, but the consistency will definitely pay off.

          Having the same routine every night is good, too. Get PJs on, brush teeth, etc. Do it all the same as much as possible (I know that “life” happens and changes schedules). My kids like to read (well, my daughter likes to look at the pictures and make up the story) for a little bit. After everyone finishes getting ready, we’ll all get together and each of us will pray – some prayers are longer and some are really short. We’ll all exchange kisses and then I or my wife will tuck them in. We struggled for a little while with them wanting to play around afterwards, but the consistency has begun to pay off.

          Being firm (not quite mean) would be a third important factor. They need to learn that “no playing” means “no playing”. I give a little leniency since they are 3 and 5, but they need to understand that there is a time to play and a time to sleep, just as Ecc. 3 teaches that there is a certain time for everything.

          I’m also just learning as I go because I didn’t have a dad growing up. Hope this helps!

  • http://twitter.com/flyfishdj Dennis Jordan

    Bed time for sure. It is easy for me to get to focused on the current sports schedule and forget to take time with my kids as they are heading to bed. 

  • http://twitter.com/BrentTrickett BrentTrickett

    Since my kids hate going to bed I use that time to talk with them because that is when they are most willing to talk and stay up “late”. It’s a great time to hear about what is going on at school and talk about anything like a bad attitude or how they treated a sibling etc. I’ve found that when it is just me and them we can be really honest.

  • Jeremy M

    I would have to say mealtime.  I get home from work around 5:30, and try to go straight into my workout.  By the time I’m done, which around 7:00-7:30, dinner is over.

    • Jeremy M

       Tweeted @chrstianpatriot:twitter

  • http://twitter.com/haddaway Chuck Haddaway

    great, helpful post Dave.  I think bedtime is the best place to shore up my attention.  currently, my wife settles in my daughter and I do so with my son.  bedtime prayers, a reminder of our love and a short recap of the day are helpful in strengthening the bonds, but I’ve been feeling we need to trade off and not stay in the current routine. 
    I need to also confirm that mealtime is a great opportunity.  I grew up within a big family, and whether my parents were intentional or not, this was a time we all sat and talked together regularly.  It was such a fun and encouraging time, that family guests were invited from time to time and found the experience inviting and warm.  when I reflect back on how relationships developed with my parents and siblings, those bonds were strengthened around the dinner table.

  • Kent Sanders

    Mealtime has always been a struggle for us, since my wife works a lot of evenings and weekends (she works in retail). But the hidden blessing is that it gives me a lot of time to spend with my son, who is 8. Sometimes it gives us the opportunity to go to restaurants that Mom doesn’t like. :)  It gives us good bonding time together.

  • kcroy

    Travel Time.  I am the father of four daughters.  When we travel out of state to visit grandfather, or even short trips to the mall, chaos can erupt.  Looking for any help we can find.  I love my daughters, and while they are really great children, I know we all need a boost in family leadership.  Hoping for the book. (an eBook would be dandy)

  • Mark Cundiff

    Meal time is definitely at the top of this list. The statement; ”
    Dinnertime is of more value to child development than playtime, school time, and story time.” was an eye opener for me. 

    It is definitely a challenge I will have to take to heart and work with my wife to rearrange our activities to make this happen on a more regular basis. Thanks for this great challenge and for the effective manner in which you communicated it to us. It was not a beat up session, but instead an inspirational message that motivates us to take some new steps toward leading more effectively at home.

    With Gratitude,

    Mark J. Cundiff

    • PastorDaveStone

      Thx Mark…we’ve all been beaten up enough.  time to focus on making the changes and adjustments we can.  “We must learn for the past, not live in it.”
      God bless you Mark.

  • http://twitter.com/jamiemoffat Jamie Moffat

    I agree the more time as a Dad I can spent with my kids the better. Intentional parenting is the only way they’ll have a chance. Thank you and God’s blessings to you for bringing this to us!

  • http://twitter.com/LindseySPHR Lindsey Nichols

    I think meal time is the area where we need to most improvement – although we do well most of the time. Oftentimes I get distracted with a magaizine article or the kiddos finish their food and are out of the dining room by the time the adults sit down for a meal. We need to make this more of a priority to sit down together.

  • David J Roman

    These tips can also work for a couple without children. My wife and I sit down to eat dinner together almost every night. Sometimes we cook together, sometimes we don’t, but either way, the meal is eaten at the table, face to face. This gives us time to reconnect after a long day at work. Needless to say, this has made our relationship even stronger.

    One point to consider. Families of Mexican heritage in particular almost always eat their meals together. It is time they hold in very high importance. They eat, talk, and generally enjoy each other’s company while they reconnect as a family. I don’t know of a stronger family bond than that of the Mexican families I know.

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  • Raewyn

    meal time. I’m a single parent of teenagers and I work from home (I have a medical practice) – so often its very late by the time I finish…then its the mad rush/taxi service to get kids to band practice / youth group etc. 
    Meals are therefore quick and easy / very late at night or the kids have often already fed themselves – so i use the car as the catchup time with my captive audience. At this stage I’m the only one with a drivers licence – but that will change shortly.
    We try to make more of an effort with meal times at the weekend- and all sit together ..but that need work on yet ..as I get to saturday night and am exhausted! 
    There are advantages and disadvantages of working from home. Clients sometimes think I’m always available…eg: so I dont answer my phone after a certain time at night

  • Scott

    Bedtime. My wife usually prays with the children.
    Mealtime is definitely covered sometimes we have multiple blessings are said over meals. Sometimes bot kids want to give thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/jeff_l_johnson Jeff Johnson

    Bed time for me. I have two teenagers; I’m getting older; and I wake up earlier. All that adds up to me going to bed BEFORE my kids (that’s old!). Most of the time my bedtime farewell consists of “don’t stay up too late; turn out the lights; lock up – see ya in the morning!” Definite improvement needed – thanks for pointing it out!

  • http://www.faughnfamily.com/ Adam Faughn

    In the last few weeks, I have made a clear effort to be with my son at bedtime as often as possible. It has made quite a change in him, and I have to admit…I look forward to it, too!

  • FrancesVictoria

    I’m a 23 yr corporate career person who waited until age 42 to have my first and only child. I also travelled and worked from home so my office was available 24×7 and I was a slave to work. When my daughter was 15 mos. I seized an opportunity (a blessing actually) to stay home and have been home for just over 3 yrs with my babygirl (now 4). It has been the best decision of my life and I charish EVERY mealtime, car-time and bedtime (among all other times) raising her now as a single Mom. There is no tougher yet more rewarding job IN THE WORLD!!  My challenge will be to maintain and protect these boundaries of time with her when I go back to work in the next few months. I am greatful for having read one of Michael Hyatt’s blog’s/podcasts a few weeks back that spoke to the myth of the Work/Life Balance” as his perspective echoes mine. I loved how he spoke of priorities (I like to tie my priorities to my life values) and how he has non-negotiables as well. I took away many valuable insights from that blog that I WILL institute when I return to work!! We MUST view ourselves as leaders in our families and cast the vision for what we want our family dynamic to look like and for the outcomes we desire.

    • PastorDaveStone

      Hello FrancesVictoria, i am so happy that you worked it out to stay home.  i agree , there’s no tougher but more rewarding job.   Like you, i thought Michael Hyatt’s podcast on Work/Life Balance was really strong.  It helped me too! thx for your encouragement.

  • 221bwhite

    I have become admittedly lazy at bedtime with the kids and could use a creative kickstart….hard to do this well when the kids can now read themselves and sometimes put themselves to bed.

  • Justin Bessler

    We spend mealtime playing the “Bad/Good” game, where each person names one bad, and then one good thing that happened to them that day. This quickly shows how negative experiences are outnumbered by positive ones when you change your focus. At bedtime, I pray with and for each of my children, blessing them aloud as I tuck them in.

    Travel time… I never thought about that time. What a great post! I look forward to reading your book.

  • HerronS

    Mealtime. We do this some, but it can get to be frustrating with it being the hectic part of the day rather than being a time for everyone to download. I am home everyday at 5:30 and I do not bring work home with me. Very intentional about that. I love being on schedule but with my wife working, which she doesn’t have to, mealtime is usually last minute and can occur anywhere from 6 pm until 7:30. That puts us in a rush when we start late and there is no time to just talk. It always seemed to flow much easier when I was a kid and we always ate together at the table and it seemed like there was plenty of time to be together. I feel the only way to improve on this is if I take over and plan and prepare everything myself. I don’t mind helping but I find it hard to get my spouse committed to a schedule. I want to encourage her to make this a priority. I know she wants this to go better too.

  • http://www.akahomeschoolmom.com/ christina

    As a homeschool mom who reads a loud all day, I have really neglected bed time.  I love that time with my kids but use being tired as an excuse to just send them off with a kiss.  I am resolved to do better.  Love this quote from your post  “Jesus taught his disciples while he traveled. He always seized teachable moments.”  Some of our best conversations are in the car.  Love this post

  • http://twitter.com/lettner Michael Lettner

    All of them I could do better, but probably travel time for we usually don’t talk much in the car. 

  • Jeff

    All of the above (but Travel Time gets neglected the most)!  Thank you for an amazing reminder to make sure that the people that matter most get our best!  Clients, so-workers, and employers cease to be important if there is no family at home to support! 

  • http://bradleyhyatt.com/ Bradley Hyatt

    How timely … I just had this conversation with my wife about a month ago. I was patting my on the back for all the compliments that I’ve been receiving on ‘leadership’ and ‘getting things done’ in leadership roles at our church (www.nhclife.org). Her response … “Why don’t you lead that way at home?” Ouch!

    I am fortunate to spend a lot of time with my kids in each of these areas. But I don’t always spend quality time leading them to be the best possible Christ followers. My wife and I both have been convicted recently that we need to not just be good parents, but to also be parents that disciple our kids. We will be leading a parenting group next fall. I look forward to reading this book before then.

    Shout out to KY! My Old Kentucky Home …

  • Janet

    Mealtime … it’s just too quick.  Rush through it, so not attentive to it at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275270512 David Carrel

    Bedtime.  It is definitely bedtime.  As you stated, often my wife takes the lead in the Bedtime category.  As a family we do well w/ Meals and Travel, but she definitely takes the lead w/ Bedtime.  It looks like an opportunity for me to step up.  :-) 

  • Tysoncl

    Bedtime for sure!  I am often tired and desire time for myself at that to bring closure to the day and prepare for  tomorrow.  If I considered 6p.m. as the start of the day for my family then I could redirect my energies to blessing the children before bedtime so that by morning blessed.  Thanks for the article.  

  • Dane

    Wow.  I am guilty of all three.  I have left bedtime to mom for years, and have a routine that needs drastic change.  Mealtime is a little better, but inconsitent at best.  When we go out together, we have some of the best talks of the day, but we could definitely be more proactive.  Great blog today!  Thank you!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/asa.veek Asa Veek

    In some ways, my wife and I are looking at “family #2″.  Our daughter is 18, and there were things – many things – I would do differently.  To answer the specific question, I would take advantage of bedtime – this was a time I missed out on.

  • http://www.jondale.com Jon Dale

    Meal times and bed times are a priority for us. I have to be careful about car time.  It’s easy to take phone calls or listen to podcasts when I could be engaging with the kids.  Thanks for such an important reminder.

    I love taking our son for motorcycle rides. We’ll grab the tent and some sleeping bags and go somewhere without cell coverage for the night. Love it! Creating memories.

  • http://wordartificer.blogspot.com/ Derek Hanisch

    Travel time.  There are weeks when I’m only home to sleep, it can make things difficult.  

  • Marjorie Harper

    Great article! My husband and I are now empty nesters, and if we could redo our child-rearing years with the insight we have now, we would definitely approach parenting more from a life coaching/mentoring perspective. We would also take more opportunities to simply enjoy and build relationship with our three kids. I like how Dave Stone presents a simple framework for taking time to influence and build relationship.

  • Marie

    Thank you for your sound wisdom–I will share with my friends and family!  I’m also printing copies out for my own reference (and to give to anyone I know who may benefit from reviewing your advice).   

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  • Steve

    Excellent post. Im guilty, i need this book. Looking forward to the read.

  • PastorDaveStone

    thx so much for your kind words and for the insights.  Love your concept of life coaching/mentoring perspective.

  • Baptista Little

    As a single parent of 2, I make it a duty for us to sit down and eat dinner together to discuss our day. We review a bible verse and discuss our day… I also use car rides as a time day laugh, play, sing together, view ad talk about our surroundings and life’s lessons on things we pass by.. I could do better at bedtime with praying at night, but in the car in the morning we do pray. I know I need to get better at bed time, I just get so caught up with trying to relax and clean up etc…. 

  • PastorDaveStone

    thx Marie for getting the word out and sharing with your friends and family.

  • Joe Blaylock

    Meal time would be the toughest. We tend to eat out more than we should and, quite frankly, it isn’t the most conducive to Dad giving his attention. We need to eat at home more as it typically leads to better conversation between all of us and it does save us money to boot!

    More importantly. It show my daughter that we value time together. This is definitely what we will be working on from now on.

  • http://twitter.com/BeccaWoodward1 Becca Woodward

    Travel time is where I need to focus more on “seizing the moments” with my young kids.  using the little things to engage with my kids while in the car, not just listening to KLOVE on the radio, but using every moment to teach and mold those young hearts.  they are a captive audience already.  I need to take advantage of every opportunity!

  • Tom Black

    Meal time – with our oldest in college and our youngest being independent, we often don’t do meals together or without distractions.  It’s certainly an opportunity for us to reconnect at the end of a busy day.

  • Charlespayet

    I’m father of 3 boys, 15, 13, and 10 years old. Since few weeks I this new habit in mealtime. It’s a blessing to use this moment in family to share with one another. Thank you for your blog !

  • Gustavo

    Right now i think its bed time (4yr old and 1 1/2) and if you past this ages or you are you know exactly what i’m talking about… (of course with a little twist…) 
    We all need rest mom, dad and the kids but we always make sure to read a book to the kids end up with a prayer (thank GOD for Today and ask GOD to give us a Tomorrow, but my oldest like to pray for his buzz lightyear & his Spiderman soo they can behave and listen to the first time! ) & lights out!…
    & of course right when you are about to go out and start your journey…(the next day)  they are too! 

  • Matt Gibson

    Fantastic post, Dave. Thank you! The principle of being at home is essential for our families. As a young father, it’s one principle that I’ve tried to adhere to as best as I can. It hasn’t been easy. We have four children and I finished graduate school last year. It was tempting to stay late at school, and of course, sometimes I really did have to, but mostly I made it home for the evenings and tried to be there for many mornings too.  We, for example, have several days and times that are absolutely “No exceptions,” meaning I will be home at those times no matter what. That helps us a lot.

    In my job search, I passed up some jobs that would have required me to violate these principles and sacrifice aspects of my family relationships.  We have to sacrifice in other places to make everything work, but not our families. It continues to be a difficult balance. My place of employment now would much rather that I stay late each evening, like many of my colleagues. Instead, I have chosen to start work early and be diligent during the day so that I can be there for my family. In general, I admit, it’s easy to justify by saying, “It will just be for the next few months or years. It’s what I have to do to get ahead.” Fortunately, we’ve been able to make it work. I’m grateful to have a wife and family that help me :) It’s like the well-known commercials say, Family–isn’t it about time?

    Dave, I’d love to learn more about what you teach about strengthening families in Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, and Laughter. I’d love to improve in this areas, and look forward to your insights. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Susan

    Bed Time. We are very good at meal time and travel time. Lots of great conversation and learning opportunities. I am so exhausted by the time I get them in bed, that I do the bare minimum.

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Great post, Dave. Thank you! I’ve raised three boys (now 15, 18, and 20), and last year took in three more (now 5, 5, & 6). Parenting the second time around has its advantages, such as realizing the value of mealtimes, bedtimes and travel times–and how much I WILL miss it someday! Still, I can easily I get sucked back into bad habits, like working too many hours, or neglecting the bedtime, mealtime and travel time opportunities. So, for me, I think the bedtime routine needs a re-focus of my attention. I’m a morning person, and I’m almost always the first person up and spending those early morning hours with the kids. My husband is a night person, and he’s much more energetic during the bedtime routine. It’s okay to tag-team and share duties, but I often fizzle and miss the bedtime opportunity. Thanks for the encouragement to press on! 

  • Matt

    Meal time for sure! Too many distractions, causes lost opportunities. Great post!

  • Brett F.

    Meal time. My family never really practiced it, so it’s very foreign to me.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    Dave, honestly speaking these are three key areas in our home that I cherish Totally.. I rarely miss meal time, bed time or travel time. I absolutely must eat with my family and pray and put my daughter to bed. Even when I am out on business sometimes I call from my IPad and put her to bed. We always almost eat together and its become a staple. I can honestly say that I am definitely doing these things and proud of them. I can always improve however.

  • Paul Sohn

    Definitely meal time. I have a tendency to multi-task and eat without much engagement with my family. I agree that leadership begins at home and only through this you can become an authentic leader. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/vulefamily Ramsey N Vicky Vule

    Travel time…we are missionaries in East Africa where driving is a very dangerous necessity, so often we are more focused on driving and keeping safe then being able to take those teaching moments with our 3 year old. It would probably be beneficially to him if we can get our car stereo to work again and then we could at least have worship music or Odyssey playing while we are driving even if we can’t really teach during those times. This book looks very inspiring. Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Africa!

  • Guest

    Wow, I was just talking about this to my wife this a.m. and I see this post.  This hit me as a father of twin toddlers and a 6 year old. I have to do better. Because I know better.  I will be documenting my progress on my blog.  This post is awesome. 

  • Scott

    Meal time. My work is an hour from home and my children are both in sports. Seems like the schedules rarely align at mealtime. It does give opportunity to make better use of travel time. I like travel b/c you get a captive audience absent of distractions. Will at a minimum look to do better with meals on weekends and when schedules do align. Thanks for the reminder!

  • KeeleyChorn

    Mealtime is definitely my area of weakness. My husband and I eat around each other but we don’t intentionally start and end the meal together. We want and need to practice this before kids come into the mix!

  • TriplyBlessed

    Three VERY important things we can do everyday… thanks Dave!!!

  • Thomas Amone

    Am pastor Thomas ,honestly my children are very much attentive  ,creative,too free during their mealtime and when they are going for Beds especially our 3 years old daughter could ask us many questions before she sleep and so i find those two moment is best for me to show,share many things with them.

  • Coachstatom

    Thanks for the post. Honestly, I need to give attention to all of these area more diligently. It’s been in the back of my mind, thanks for the reminder. Your post has strengthened my resolve to do these things. Makes me think of Deut. 6:7 NLT says “Repeat them (commands) again and again to your children.”

  • http://joedegiorgio.com/ Joe

    Travel time. I drive my daughter to school every day, and some of these rides are made in silence or with the radio on. I have trouble initiating conversations, even though I can be a chatterbox! Need to work on this…

  • Sarah

    looks like a great book.  thanks for the opportunity to win! i think mealtime is the best time.  we really focus on keeping it protected here.

  • http://twitter.com/tom_dixon2 Tom Dixon

    Bed time… after a long day at work and then the stress of getting a three-year-old to bed this can fall to the wayside.  Great reminder and practical tips – thanks!

  • Cavalierex

    As a sub-specialty surgical resident (my tenth year of training after graduating from medical school, with 2 more to go), I work incredibly long hours, and bringing work home is routine. It’s part of the academic and professional landscape… After all, if you go to the hospital, do you want to be treated by a surgeon who hasn’t studied as long or hard as he could?

    Still, this article reminds me that my #1 responsibility is to God and family. I’ll make a better effort to share time with my kids, even when all I want to do is pass out on the couch.

    Thanks for the wakeup call.

  • Jim

    Drive Time.  It’s so easy to get distracted.  I am usually by myself during drive time.  There are so maby better things to do besides channel surfing. 

  • Teresa

    I’m a woman and just realized these posts aren’t meant for me. I assumed you were speaking to both sexes in your posts but now I see that leaders and people to whom leadership advice is given are only men.

    • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

      Not sure how you reached that conclusion, Teresa, but I’d encourage you to reread this post — and the many others at Michael’s site that give excellent advice to everyone. I think you’ll find your conclusion mistaken.

      All the best.

  • Seth Roach

    I would have to say Travel Time since usually my wife and I are doing our thing and the kids are doing their thing in the back. I haven’t thought of using that time as an opportunity for teaching. Meal Time is actually really solid for us but Bed Time could definitely use some help instead of the hurry up and get to bed on time usually high stress moments. Thanks for this article it was practical and helpful.

  • http://josephjyoung.com/ JosephJYoung

    Hi Dave,
    Enjoyed this statement you made: “Take advantage of your captive audience (see Deuteronomy 6:4–9). Remember you are raising them to release them (very powerful!). So use your travel time to prepare them for when you’re not there.”

    Meal Time is my answer to your question. I remember as a kid all the times we actually ate meals together as a family. It was precious and priceless and reminded us all that we were just that – family. In today’s world whether we are married with no kids or with kids meal time with no TV is hugely important to the development of family in areas of communication, awareness, human compassion, and focus on those across the table from you.

  • Pastor Osayande Eghafona

    I have actually not mastered this. Have 3 wonderful sons which I named afetr prophets in the Bible. I speak and pray into their destinies mostly in the mornings. At bedtime, I just appreciate God for His goodness and then straight they sleep. Not a regular thing though. I rarely have meals on the same table or at the same time. This, from your wonderful exposition has revealed how much we seperate ourselves with what we, divinely, have been joined together to do. Thank you and God bless you for your kind words and revelations.

    Pastor Osayande

  • Hsims

    Travel time could use a little help. DVDs are an easy quieting technique, but no substitute for family interaction with great, largely uninterrupted time.

  • Jeremy

    Definitely bedtime. It’s our most tired time of the day and when we least feel like adding to the nightime ritual. I often struggle with how and what to pray for my 10- and 7-yr. old.

  • Jason Stern

    We’ve been diligent about eating dinner every night together, even though it means usually eating later. And praying as a family has been a routine since the children were little.  If anything I picked up from this short blog entry, I need to focus more on praying for the children individually during this time, rather than for things/people outside the family.

  • Tntray

    Bedtime…..since I get up so early in the morning I tend to leave that to my wife while I get my clothes, etc ready for the next day.  I need to be more intentional with tucking my kids in bed and doing some of the bedtime prayers.

  • http://stephenalynch.tumblr.com Stephen Lynch

    As a fiance w/ no kids (and no immediate plans), I love soaking up this kind of wisdom so it comes naturally later in life. I think of my parents in all three areas, they did a great job preparing me for that season of life.

    I just want to highlight the last paragraph that may have gotten overlooked – the Hebrew view of 6 PM being the beginning of the day. That is gold. I had a serious WOW moment reading that. It makes so much sense to spend your first fruits with your family – I’ll carry that perspective for the rest of my life. 

    And maybe that justifies breakfast for dinner?

    Thanks for posting Dave, you’ve made an impact today.

  • Jen

    Meal Time– It seems like many families let this slide. We just started making this more of a priority in our family and was happy to see our feelings on this subject were supported in your article!

  • http://www.truenorthquest.com/ Brian

    A wonderfully written and penetrating post! I love the Hebraic understanding of the first fruits of the day beginning at 6 PM – giving our best energy to our families beginning the evenings. This stuff could be nation-transforming! 

  • http://twitter.com/curbnaround Nathan

    Bedtime has always been an important priority for my wife and I.  I find most of my “bedtime” time never goes deeper the “Green eggs and ham” and assuring my love for my four year old daughter. Prayer from my lips is hardly spoken at this time. I suppose maybe I am not sure how to express my feelings into a prayer for her but I  know God presses me to make this a time for prayer. At this moment 
    Deuteronomy 6:4–9 has never stood out so boldly to me. 

  • Olibradley

    This searing honesty is much needed. I have a 5 year old and have had a policy of being home for 6pm dinners as a family, but recently been leaving work late to arrive mid meal at 6:15pm. Your directness on keeping work in place so as to lead at home was sorely needed, work can wait, my family can’t.

  • Don

    Meal time is probably the most important time for me to improve, We DO eat together as a family, but that timeis often not as intentionally instructional and enjoyable as it ought to be. Having 8 children 15 years and under is quite a challenge. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Dale Aceron

    Thanks for the post Pastor Dave!

    For us it’s definitely meal time. In all the years of being a family (17), we have probably missed less than 20 times not being around the table together. We gaurd that one like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a ‘NO Electronic Zone’ for us, especially for daddy, which I admit was tough at first.

    We’ve read bible, had devotions and even walked through hurts at the table. We really find the value in meal times. And for almost 10 years now, every supper, after grace, which each say 1 thing we are thankful to God for, and we’ve NEVER missed it once. Even if one child is away, we speaker phone our ‘Thank You’ times and ask them what their thankful for. Love it!!!

  • http://www.SevenPillarsOfSuccess.Net Louise Thaxton

    Great post – and good points to take to heart.  My children all grown – but there are still opportunities with the grandchildren….these are three time opportunities I must remember to cultivate those grandchildren also.  

  • Kapil Sopory

    I strogly feel and express whenever possible that we need to ” do one thing at a time and do that well” and not allow distractions to work as spoilers. Tv and  phones do great harm when we are taking our food. So are negative thoughts and angry utterances. We should make best use of the available opportunities  with our kith and kin whenever we get time together at the dining table or otherwise.  Our children are encouraged to exchange their views if we reflect genuine love. This is very important as any show off when observed leads to misgivings… no use “crying over spilt milk” as the damage would have been done.
    People remain mentally elsewhere even in bed causing avoidable marital strife.
    I know quite a few who would greatly benefit from this book and it would be utilised to the best advantage.
    Not being on Twitter/Facebook is a handicap and I request you to consider me for the offer despite that.

  • http://twitter.com/Renmeleon Renmeleon

    Honestly, in small ways, probably all three, but bedtime in this case.

    We always eat together, but not always at the dining room table. When we don’t eat at the kitchen table, we have a floor picnic in the living room and watch a movie together, usually a comedy. I prefer our dinner table, but once in a while it is nice to change things up.

    My husband is epileptic and does not drive, so I am behind the wheel quite a bit shuttling him and my daughter both around to work and her activities. We have the summer off now (from dance and Girl Scouts) so I plan on making small days trips to museums and other fun places with her. I am a homeschooling mom so I love the flexibility and we talk a lot when we are on the road. It is a really good time for us to connect, talk, and be silly together; we can often be found singing off key (on purpose) at the top of our lungs with CDs in the car.

    Bedtime is in definite need of work. My husband and I used to take turns reading before my daughter went to bed. Our days got busier though, mostly due to my working on Masters work, so dinner would get nudged a little later and we wouldn’t have time to read all the time. We all miss it and have made a commitment to each other to renew that. All piled up in my bed, my husband would read to my daughter and I till his voice needed a break, then I would read a chapter or two. It was/is her favorite time of day.

    It always amazes me when I catch myself saying “there isn’t enough time in the day” when I know that I have the same amount of hours that everyone else that I look up to does. I struggle with time management on a daily basis and am always looking for ways to improve both the quality of our lives and my productivity. I’ve waited my whole life to have this precious not-so-little-anymore girl in my life (she just turned 11 Friday), I don’t want her to have to wait her entire life for me.

  • Joe Kimani

    Bed-time does the wonders. My daughter jumps on my back and if I dare forget,she will remind me

  • http://www.NickPalkowski.com/ Nick Palkowski

    Bedtime. Thinking back to my childhood, most of my strongest memories revolve around all three of these times. Thank you for the great post

  • apompo

    While there are opportunities with all three, the travel time resonates most with me.  It’s easy to focus on getting to the next event/committment, without thinking about enjoying the ride.  Going to try to be more intentional about using this time effectively.

  • http://robrash.us Rob Rash

    Which one?… How about all three! My wife and I do our best (my wife does a phenomenal job) and like you said Dave, I either cop out or check out when I get home. I love our meal time and our bedtime routine but it needs to be more focused.

    Thanks for sharing Dave!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1077196756 Ron Whittington

    Bedtime is the one I struggle with. The kids aer young and the attention span is short.  This has reminded me to double down on the bedtime routine with my kids. My memories of family devotions before bed is a strong and lasting one.

  • Cbkiburz

    I loved the article. Being that my wife and I have only been married 10 months; we do not have children yet, but look forward to it very much. I cherish the memories of sitting down at the table with my mom, dad, and 3 other brothers over a home cooked meal. I plan to do the same but the habit has to start early. We don’t always sit down together and have one on one time and I don’t understand why. I am going to encourage this more and hope to have this time set aside and ready to go by the time I have little ones running around.
    Love the article!

  • Lisa

    Thanks for the reminder again.  Our Life Group is studying Effective Parenting in a Defective Word by Chip Ingram.  In our first week we were reminded about dinner time which we used to do a good job at when the kids were little, but have fallen away from since they became teenagers and everyone is running on different schedules.  We did really well for about a week (sad how quickly we fell back into routine) but didn’t stick with it.  Apparently God agrees w/ your statistics, because He has put it in our face again at least 3 times since then.  We will begin again tonight.  Thanks for the newsletter and the challenge.

  • http://balancerefresh.wordpress.com/ Mike

    Hi. What a great post… Something really need. I have a software development job, roughly 12 hours for work including travel time. I also serve as a leader in our church. I come home late 2 nights a week because of this. 

    Honestly, for now, all 3 are pretty hard for me. I’ve got a 3 year old daughter, and a pregnant wife. My daughter’s a picky eater and can’t sit still at the dinner table. My wife’s in her first trimester, so she pretty much eats and sleeps whenever she wants. Travel time might be the easiest place to start, but our most regular travel is to and from church on sundays.

    I’m pretty clueless as to where to start here. Any suggestions? It would be a big help. Thanks a lot.

  • Pgdobiash

    Bedtime is the last waking moment that you can plant an encourging seed in your child ‘s mind that you love and appreciate them, God can use them to accomplish great things. encourging them especially just before they go to sleep is a way ro give them confidence in their God given abilities and to let them know care.

  • PastorDaveStone

    wow!  3 nearly raised and 3 more to raise.  God will use all that you’ve learned.  love your tag team approach–nice combo that plays to your strength and your schedules! appreciate all that you do with Michael H. and to help all of us!!

  • Pam

    What a great and inspiring post. Good reminders to all that as parents, we are in the business of working ourselves out of a job. Preparing the kids for life is not an option. It is a mandate. Thanks for your example…putting first things first!

  • http://www.christianhomeandfamily.com/ Carey Green

    Great post… my heart is moving in this direction more so even after 21 years of parenting!  Something we can all learn more about, for sure.

  • http://www.matthewreedcoaching.com/ Matthew Reed

    Mealtime is area where I need to increase my family focus. Not just on making sure that I spend the time, but also that we make the meal ‘productive’

  • http://www.facebook.com/wisthrop Jared Hansen

    Mealtime mostly because I’m not home all the time when my kids eat. I’ve know this is important, just haven’t made the effort.

  • Gcturner3

    Meal Time. This is a great time for me to connect with my family, but growing up we were always eating at different times and different places, its tough to get in the habit of doing it today.  I continue to try to make that commiment to my family.  However I need to leave my phone and paper behind and connect to my family, this is great time to lead and provide the intimate time that they desire.

  • Kevin

    Meal time. With 5 kiddos and 3 of them in rec sports, our meal times have been “on the go” a lot lately, and a close 2nd would be bed time. I often bring work from the church office home with me and short-cut bedtime to get a head start on what is left for me to do.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks so much for this important post. I especially appreciated your final paragraph. I want my kids to *always* know without question that I treasure them more than any business project or opportunity.

  • http://www.johngallagherblog.com John Gallagher

    Travel time for me.  With 2 boys ages 15 and 13, shuttling to and from extracurricular activities is a norm.  We also usually drive for vacation which is several hours of captice time.

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  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    Meal time could definitely be better. My oldest is only 21 months and next Tuesday we have a scheduled c-section for the next one. But often I eat and then get up to go do something, intead of being present with the family. I can see how it would be a practice I need to start now.

    My wife and I take turns at bedtime. All three of us go to my son’s room and we lay him down and pray with him. Then one night I stay with him to read him a story and sing a couple songs before kissing him goodnight and the next night my wife does that part. We are currently reading through The Story for Kids and he loves it!

  • http://twitter.com/chriskear Chris Kear

    Mealtime. Far too often I find myself eating with the family and my iPhone face up next to me so that I can monitor it. Pathetic… I know. I tell myself that at least I’m just passively engaging with the phone instead of eating with it in my hand. I completely get that this handicaps me from actively engaging more with my family.

  • Estrick318

    My son’s are now grown and as I read this post, I read it with regret. I  fit this description to a T.  I brought the frustrations of my day home and my family suffered for all that went wrong at work. I am now living out the old song “Cat’s in the cradle” .
    It is borderline to late for me, but My wife and I have decided to have at least one night a week for the four of us to have a meal together as a family. Mealtime for me growing up was not a place of communication, it was a children should be seen and not heard setting. I unfortunately had that deeply rooted in me while my son’s were growing up and mealtime was not much fun for them either. Even now I struggle,but mealtime for sure needs to be the place where a family can re-connect from a day in the world. A place where meaningful discussions can begin. James Dobson, Focus on the Family once said he used to take his kid’s to a window and say “out there the world can be a rough and cruel place, but here in this home, this is a safe place that we all can count on no matter what”

  • Tenacioussquirrel

    I work with children and it shocks me daily where parent priority seems to lie…I have been guilty of not making my family priority and I am in the process of changing a few things…This was a great reminder to continue to press forward and secure those moments when I can.

    Sadly, I work till 6:30 pm and do not walk into my home till 7:00 pm…my husband is the cook and does a great job providing…I am happy to report that he is just as on board with getting back to the basics as I am…Thank you for the motivation!

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  • Michael

    Mealtime. We have been sitting in front of the TV for a while now while eating and know this needs to stop!

  • Msparks623

    Honestly, all three need my leadership attention.  This post has really challenged me to pick up the slack and be more intentional.  Thank you for the challenging post.

  • http://twitter.com/mm_wilson Matt Wilson

    It’s a toss-up between meal time and bed time for me. I’m lucky that my office is only 5 minutes from home and I eat lunch there with my wife and kids (5 & 2) nearly every day, but we have a lot of what we call “picnics” in the floor around a movie at dinner time and that is obviously not the best way to engage my two kids. However, I’m struck by the power of your parents’ simple prayer as an amazing way to lead for my entire family. Thanks for the sparking another level of thought on this.

  • CT

    Bedtime. Because my wife and I both work, so often we find ourselves tempted to simply get the kids down and quiet, not taking the time to help them wrap up their day, pray with them and over them as we should, etc. Guidance and ideas in this area are certainly welcome!!

  • Monusher

    For me bed time is were I come up short. I  delegate that time to my wife but the part of this post about casting vision has changed my perspective. This was a great post thanks for sharing. 

  • Hephzibah23

    Meal time … we have dinner at 5.00 and by then after making dinner I just want to serve it, eat and be done so I can put my feet up and finally relax after a long day. 

    I’m tired, my husband is tired, but my son (8 years) is still so full of life. 

    I love this post because it’s highlighted the need to prioritise these valuable opportunities.


  • Bobby Udoh

    We do the 3 in bits but the bedtime is the primary one for me. Because it gives me an opportunity to evaluate the course  of the day with my daughter and son. Also, a platform to hear their heart (joy, struggle and pain) and to provide feedback where necessary. Well done Dave

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186208999 Connie E. Hart

    I like mealtime we all are working together setting the table, eating together and talking. That is the best time! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1186208999 Connie E. Hart

    I like mealtime we set the table together, we talk and eat together.

  • http://twitter.com/shawnpmiller Shawn Miller

    Thanks for sharing with all of us. My daughter is only 2 1/2, so I know there are many opportunities ahead that will challenge me as well as many opportunities to make a difference in her life. 

    For me, it’s not specifically any of those 3 that I struggle with, it’s making sure that I’m laying the foundation and being the example that she needs.

  • Gawilkey

    Bed time by far. I need to be more intentional with it. I like the mindset of your day beginning when you arrive home from work.

  • Kccariker

    Meal time for sure…gets crazy with young kids need to make eating together a higher goal!

  • Francis

    I like the idea of using my travel time to bond with my family. Great idea. Also starting my day at 6 pm so as to give my family the most fresh and prime time and to convey to them that they are more important that my work.

  • Alexandru Jurje

    Thank you for reminding us what real leadership is and where it all starts. 

  • JW3

    Love the suggestion, and yes, my wife is quite insistent about us being together for meals. A blessing for us is that, when I am not traveling, we are able to have breakfast together each day. 
    At evening, the one thing both my wife and I tell our kids (and I got this from one of Andy Andrews’ DVD’s) “I love you, always and forever, no matter what”. We do this every night, whether it’s been a great day, bad day, or if we just had an argument. They ALWAYS hear that they are loved. Cool thing – now they repeat “No Matter What” on their own! I love it!

  • Dan

    I would have to say meal time. Even though my son is 15 months old, starting now will help us as parents to maintain it as a habit. My wife and I have made a rule with no cellphones at the dinner table.

  • Rgland3901

    I used to eat 15 – meals/ week @  home with my wife  (now age 53)  older girls [now 22 and 26]  when the girls were little. . I would even take my young girls on” a date w/ Dad for lunch.   Those were great times of fun, listening, connecting and occasionally passing on a good principle for living.  When they were younger I did a better job of  doing this.  My younger 3 kids  {age 18, 13 and 10} still see me at  5 – 6 meals together/ week with me.But  I miss the  frequent  meal times that have been replaced by work, school activities  and too busy a schedule. 

    I have been looking for more times to connect with my kids. Dinner time is the best meal time still.  We try not to answer the phone or be distracted from each other during this important reconnection time.  Your ideas to also make travel time and bed time count are great encouragement to me.  Thanks for pointing  to intentional and predictable times  I can be with them. Especially insightful was the travel times.   Great and priceless!  Thank you.

  • Doug Hooge

    Actually the one thing I need to work harder at these days is the meal time. My wife passed away in Sept last year and with both our girls grown up and on their own I really need to work at having regular mealtimes with my daughter and her family who live in the same city. It is easy to be ‘so busy’ and let the week (or weeks) go by without sitting down together and catching up on what is going on in all of our lives. More than ever I have things to communicate to my grandkids and my daughter and her husband as a result of the difficult last few months. Life isn’t always easy but it is always teaching us things to pass on to those we love.

  • Douglas Stewart @SalesRhino

    Incredible post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenny

    I know that for me – after being out of the family home for 6 years now – even now having the chance to come back home and enjoy a meal as the whole family means so much. Not yet having a family of my own, I hope to remember all these for my children. For our family – with parents commuting into work every morning – the only one that we really had was the meals – but those meals were most definitely valued! 

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  • http://fountainoflifefellowship.wordpress.com/ Binu John

    Beautifully written! Thanks for this practical reminder for fathers on this fathers day weekend. I honor my father who raised me sacrificially. Here is three things I remember about my him. It is at http://fountainoflifefellowship.wordpress.com/2012/06/

  • Francine Grimard

    It is more difficult at mealtime because the childre are in a hurry to go to play or wach tv.

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  • Another

    Unfortunately I am reading 10 Mistakes Men Make in Divorce. This book hints at an epidemic of economically empowered women in their early 40s putting their own feelings of discontent ahead of their children. It’s not just men failing to lead. It’s also people failing to submit to anything- their spouses, vows, promises, God, or the word of the Bible. Leaders need followers. Good followers are hard to find too.

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  • Amy

    Bedtime.  By the time we finally get to bed, my husband and I are exhausted and leave little time for quality prayer, and talk.