Part two of this series contains seven lessons I’ve learned while leading my family on vacation. See the first part here.
3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin
Don’t forget about indwelling sin. Though you are going on vacation, you would be wise to remember that sin never does. Merely altering one’s geography doesn’t subdue or silence sin. We are deceived if we think that a mere change in location or finding an idyllic setting will somehow suspend the active nature of sin. Actually sin can be quite active on a vacation, intent on ruining it. If the husband is not prepared for sin and temptation, he and his family will be more vulnerable to sin and temptation.
A wise husband begins by anticipating how and where he will be tempted by sin on vacation. Ponder in advance your existing sin patterns and potential temptations on this vacation, and prepare in advance for those temptations.
And by all means include your wife in this process prior to vacation, and ask for her observations and correction on the vacation. Countless times on vacation Carolyn has protected me from sin with her counsel, correction, and encouragement. Gentlemen, it’s not whether you will be tempted to sin on vacation, it’s how and when you will be tempted to sin. Prepare now for that moment so that by God’s grace you will not be deceived by temptation and sin.
And prepare your children for their unique temptations. Review with your children the temptation and tendency to be selfish or complain with specific instructions of how and when this could take place. Prepare them with appropriate passages from Scripture for their conflict with sin. And most important, prepare them for opportunities to serve and express gratefulness (particularly to mom) throughout the vacation. Make sure they understand that we are not taking a vacation from the joyful cultivation of godliness.
4. Studying Your Family
Determine in advance how to most effectively serve your family on vacation. Personally, my idea of a great vacation is nonstop activity. I love doing stuff. I don’t view resting or the cessation of activity as restful or refreshing. Nope. I want to be attacking life each day and doing something every moment of each day of vacation. That’s what I want to do on vacation. But I’ve learned that this approach to life and vacations is not shared by my wife and daughters (although I am glad to say it is by my son!).
Years ago our vacations were characterized by careful planning and maximum activity each day. Wherever we were there was stuff to do and we were going to do it all! And I expected my family would love it all and enjoy it all and at the end of each day they would effusively express their gratefulness and acknowledge that no one presently on earth or ever in history planned and led more effective vacations than I did. But it didn’t work out that way.
Though it has been a number of years, I vividly remember one particular vacation when my wife wisely approached me asking if it would be possible to rest at some point during the vacation. Though I was perplexed why anyone would want to rest on vacation, I listened, and by God’s grace learned how to more effectively serve my family on vacation. I realized that my planning for our vacation was largely informed by my preferences, not the preferences of my wife and children. That conversation with Carolyn has made a difference in my vacation planning.
And since that conversation, it has been my practice to meet with my family prior to vacation and find out from each of them what they would like to do on our vacation so I can create a context for the fulfillment of all they desire if at all possible. And so, we don’t do as much as we once did on vacation, but I’m happy to report, I am more effectively serving my family on vacation.
Now, your family is no doubt different than my family. Maybe your family loves filling each day with as much activity as possible. And maybe your idea of a vacation involves as little movement as possible each day. If so, perhaps the most effective way you can serve your family is doing as much stuff as possible each day. If you’re lacking ideas, give me a call; I’ve got plenty of them that I haven’t been able to use.
How can you most effectively serve your family on vacation? Well, in order to answer this question you must study your family and interview your family. Find out what they would like to do and if possible make it happen, even if it involves just resting and relaxing.
5. Skillful Surprises
Let there be surprises during each vacation! Create a tradition of surprising your family.
Personally, I love to surprise my family (I’m sure you do too). And I try to do this throughout the year. But I want this to be a part of each family vacation as well. Effective surprises begin with studying each member of your family to discover what a meaningful and memorable surprise would involve. But trust me, each member of your family loves to be surprised.
Now, I could provide you with a list of ways I have surprised members of my family over the years, but I don’t think that would serve you. It wouldn’t serve you because most likely the members of my family are different from the members of your family. You see, effective surprising is a skill. It is a developed skill rooted in the discerning study of a family member. You must study them and discern their passions and gifts, their preferences and joys in order to effectively create and craft a surprise for them.
And what a joy it is to surprise them! Actually the most important effect of surprising our family is not the surprise itself but the communication of our deep affection for them through the surprise. Long after the surprise has taken place or the gift has outlived its usefulness, the expression of affection and the memory of the moment remains. Think carefully and plan purposefully whom you can surprise.
So how can you surprise your family and communicate your deep affection on your summer vacation?
[To be continued …]