Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Rock or Sand -- Shifting Priorities

I posted an article on April 8, 2012 that dealt with the subject of shifting priorities when parents struggle to find adequate practice time with their children at home. I thought that another look at this article with some updated material would help podcast listeners apply the subject of the podcast episode 049 about building character. Character can mean so many things, and decisions about how to approach the practice issue may reveal questions of character, as this article discusses.


The Two Houses

The bible (Matthew 7:24-27) relates a story about two men who built houses. One man built his house on a rock. When the rain came down, “the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (NIV) This is the wise man, the man who builds his home on a solid foundation. Not so the foolish man. He built his house on sand, and when the rain came down, “the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (NIV)

Even children relate to this story in its fairy tale form about the three little pigs (Paul Galdone classic book). One little pig built his house of straw, but the wolf blew it down and forced the pig to seek safety with his brother. The second pig built his house of sticks, but the wolf blew down that house as well. The third pig built his house of bricks and it withstood the wolf’s attack.

My purpose in relating these two stories is to bring up the issue of priorities. On occasion I observe parents on various forums ask about how to find time to practice with their children. As these parents ask the question, I notice that the question also defines the home and parent situation to show that the parents have absolutely no time to practice. These parents’ frame the issue in a way that seems to seek permission NOT to practice. One parent went so far as to suggest that he or she might be looking for something like an exercise program that promised “rock hard abs” in a few minutes per day. This reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently, where the student says to the teacher something like, "Can we just skip ahead to the part where I'm awesome?"

I had to sit for a while after reading that particular parent’s situation, because I would think that most of us in the world know that it is impossible to get or build something worthwhile without putting in the time and effort that are required to get there. As much as we would all like to be thinner, stronger, faster, or better, it just is not going to happen in a short amount of time. We need to pay our dues. We need to put in the time and effort.


Life is all about priorities. There are many things that compete for our attention -- all day and well into the night. Parents need to sift through all of the “stuff” and sort things according to well-defined priorities. Let us teach our children this important life skill of how to set priorities, because if we fail to teach this life lesson, our children may drift through life and work to accomplish other’s goals.

How we choose to set priorities may reveal our character as well. Podcast episode 049 (click here to listen) discusses character, how to build it, and why it is important to line up our character with our integrity. After listening to the podcast episode, see if you resonate with some of the questions I pose here about the priorities we choose to follow.

Which house are you building?
  • Are you situated on a rock? Do you know where you are going? Do you know what to do when things fall apart all around you? Do you have goals? Do you make your goals top priority?
  • Are you situated on sand? Do you go wherever the moment takes you? Do the demands of others buffet you about or are you clear about your needs and your family's priorities? What is important to you to accomplish? Do you have a plan?

What is Your Treasure?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Luke 12:34 (NIV)

If you want to understand what your current priorities are, take a look at where you spend most of your time. Your time is your most valuable asset and gift to yourself and others. Your time is not something you can save or store up. When time is spent, it cannot be recaptured. If you waste a minute, it will be gone forever.

So look closely at where you spend your time and with what people. Most adults would say that they spend the biggest part of their waking day with people at work. I understand the need to make a living, and I am guilty about spending too much time with my work. I often raise the issue of how much time I spend to make a living versus the time I spend with the things or people that matter most to me. I assume for parents that children and family are the most important things in life. If that is true, do the parents' lives actually demonstrate this situation to others? Do parents spend time with their families? What are the parents' priorities?

Let us return to the distressed parent who had to work so long in a day that the parent had no time to devote to the child’s practice. It may be that this particular parent has decided that her heart truly belonged to work. That decision is none of my business unless the parent asks for my opinion. Parents can decide how to run their lives and raise their families and I do not have to be involved in any way. I do, however, want to be sure that these parents are being truthful with themselves. If this is truly the parent’s decision and priority – to be so busy with work and other activities that there is no time left in a day for the child’s practice, even ten minutes – then I want the parent to be able to say that aloud to themselves and be able to admit that to others. Be honest. If this is your priority, then say so. Please do not try to give the rest of us the illusion that you wish things were different if you really do not.

Should a parent’s treasure be somewhere else? I hope that busy parents take some time this week to look at this issue. Find out where your hearts truly are. Are parents' priorities and attention directed toward their children or elsewhere?

In my next article I will discuss four questions that will help parents discover their true priorities and make decisions to set new priorities.

Until next time,

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2017 by Paula E. Bird

If you found this episode (or any episode) of the podcast helpful, and you would like to make a donation to support the Teach Suzuki Podcast and the blog, click here. My efforts to write and produce the Teach Suzuki blog and podcast do not generate income except through the generosity of readers and listeners. I really appreciate your support. Just click here for a direct link to PayPal to support the blog and podcast.

No comments:

Post a Comment