DISCIPLINE: Setting the pace

In Genesis 32, Jacob has an incredible experience that ends at daybreak with Jacob wrestling with an angel. He is seeking the blessing of God. The angel changes his name from Jacob (deceiver) to Israel (prince of God). Only a few hours later in Genesis 33, he is to be reunited with Esau his brother who had threatened to kill him twenty years before. Esau is ready to get on down the road, have a feast, catch up on things, but Jacob (Israel) says, “. . . let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace . . .of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”


Too often we are living at an incredible rate of speed and insisting that the children keep up with us. In his journeys, in his trials, in his relationships, Jacob learned something about the importance of the family and of caring for the children. Perhaps after wrestling with the angel all night, seeking the blessing of God, he saw with new eyes. When he made things right with God, he saw his family in a whole new way. On his list of blessings, his family and children moved to the top. His priorities changed because he had changed.

It’s like he said to Esau, “We’ll be slower but we will get there. I’ll come along with my family.”

A child’s pace is different from our adult pace. Take a walk with one of your children and notice what he notices. You will go more slowly, stop more often, and see a different world.

As adults, we are the administrators of our home. We make decisions, plan schedules, carry out commitments. Are we aware of the fact that we are pulling and dragging our children along? Are we making decisions based on their good, not our own abilities?

I remember this past Christmas being in “Tuesday Morning” at about 5:30 on a Thursday evening. (Keith says that it is impossible to be in Tuesday Morning on a Thursday. Male humor ?) There was a sweet little working mom in the store buying Christmas gifts.

Obviously, by her conversation, she was at the end of her own emotional rope. Her three-year-old girl had been in day care all day and was obviously stresssssssed. I know what the mom was doing….just getting “one more thing”. I have done that exact thing! If she could have reversed her decision, she probably would have. Everyone in the store knew that the little girl was unhappy and hungry. As Keith would say in his Tennessee dialect, her little girl was “tellin’ it.” Everyone also knew that the mom was unhappy and upset. And . . . it was Christmastime.

Children have limits; as adults, we have to adapt to their pace whenever we can.

Eat together at home. Stay around the table and talk.

Take a walk with your children.

Have a family time once a week.

God’s blessing on our families will mean living with a different pace from the world around us. Let’s make our families our priority. If we don’t, the life-destroying busyness of the world will suck up our families, our lives, and our joy. This is a wrestling match we must win.

Family is non-negotiable.