A counter-cultural sabbath rest – Month 5

In last month’s update (“A counter-cultural sabbath rest – Months 2-4”) on our family’s attempt to take a 2013 “counter-cultural sabbath rest,” I talked about our family’s need to recalibrate after hitting reality in the face with our “experiment” in slowing down in our fast-paced world.  As I talked about last month, slowing down has been a struggle, and in that struggle we’ve learned lots of lessons together as a family.

For instance, cutting things out of your life doesn’t guarantee that you’ll connect more as a family.  You have to continually work at connecting with each other (this holds true with Becca and me, as well as with the kids).

IMG_3549Spending more time together as a family doesn’t necessarily result in better family dynamics or better relationships — in fact, sometimes it has the opposite effect.  You have to make better dynamics and relationships a priority, and continually work towards those goals.

When you are intentional with relationships with your children, as well as between and among your children, and actually take the time to use the teachable moments to teach, coach, and lead your children, incredible things can happen.  Family relationships flourish, minds are shaped and formed in positive ways, character is developed, and disrespect for others decreases dramatically.


In addition to our family lessons, I’ve learned some personal lessons through this experience. One thing in particular is that it is really easy to let “important” things sneak into our lives to distract us from the really important things in our lives.  And I constantly have to be on guard to ensure that I say “no” or “no more” to the non-essentials so that I can give 100% to the essentials.

Acting on what I’ve learned so far this year, I have successfully said “No more” or “not at this time” to two of my major commitments.  And I’ve taken a step back from everything that I’m doing right now and asked a simple question of myself: “What are the things in this world that only I, Phil Darke, can do?”

In answering the question, I came up with a very short list — a list of only three things:

  1. Self-care – i.e., take care of my mental, emotional, physical, social, psychological, and spiritual health.
  2. Be the husband to my bride.
  3. Be the father to my children.

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Nobody else can do these things.

So, with God at the center, these are the three things I always have to give 100% to . . . no matter what.

Everything else in my life is secondary (or tertiary, or further down the list of priorities).  I know that God has created me to do other things, such as work to bring excellence to orphan care through Providence, and I’ll strive to do those things with excellence as long as I’m called to do them.  But not at the expense of the the things that only I can do.  As many have said before me, I won’t sacrifice my family at the altar of ministry or my job or any other “important thing.”

I encourage you to ask yourself the same question, “What are the things in this world that only I can do?,” and do whatever you have to do to make sure that you give 100% to those things — every minute of every day . . . no matter what.