Meaning in the Margins

Illustration of Jim Daly driving his two sons to school
John Jay

When my schedule permits, I enjoy ferrying my boys, Trent and Troy, to school in the morning. Their campus is near Focus on the Family, and it's become a fun routine, the three Daly men, all scrubbed and eager for the new day, piling into the Toyota and driving to school and work together.

Teachable moments

Our commute is relatively short, but recently I've been trying to use the time deliberately. It's often in the margins of life where we have the most meaningful connections with our kids, and I've noticed that my boys are more apt to talk when we're all in the car looking forward as opposed to sitting around a table in traditional conversation. So I try to make the most of our morning drive time by subtly weaving basic principles of life and faith into our conversation.

I keep things casual — no prepared lessons or speeches. Instead, I look for a hook to hang a point on: a headline from the paper, a highway construction crew, news about a family member's health. Some mornings those larger teachable moments are harder to come by, but I'm satisfied if my boys arrive at school knowing that Dad loves them and wants the best for their lives.

Find significance in the ordinary

One morning, our conversation gravitated toward the topic of God's love and His sacrifice on the Cross. I asked my boys how they would feel if someone they knew had died for them, maybe by taking a bullet or pushing them from the path of a speeding car. They both agreed that it would be pretty incredible, so I nudged the hypothetical situation a little further, asking what they'd do if the person who'd died for them had left behind a note with a final request. "Let's say it was Uncle A.J.," I said to my boys. "Would you do that one thing he asked you to do?"

"Of course!" my boys responded.

"Well, that's what Jesus did for us," I said. "He died so that we might accept Him as our Savior and live with Him for eternity.

"Would you do something for Christ since He died for you?"

"Of course, " they said. "He wants us to love Him, live for Him and obey Him."

The conversation wasn't planned, but I drove away from the boys' school that morning thankful that God uses the casual moments of life to help parents share real truth with their kids.

As you lead your own children, I encourage you to make the most of the margins — by finding significance in the ordinary moments of life.

This article appeared in the October/November 2011 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2011 by Focus on the Family. 

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