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Sunday morning drill sergeant

by Greg Krehbiel on 1 September 2004

Earlier I mentioned the dad’s responsibility to take the kids to worship. Practically speaking, this may mean adopting some stereotypically un-masculine behaviors — like putting your daughter’s hair in braided pig tails. But this is just a matter of perspective and requires only a very minor mental adjustment. Sailors have to tie knots, and doing a girl’s hair is just a special kind of knot. Think of it that way and you won’t feel like a sissy hairdresser.

The hard part is learning to brush out the tangles when your girl has a sensitive scalp.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are several simple procedures that you can follow to get the family to church on time.

First, plan on being there ten minutes early. Getting to church early shows that you value Sunday worship. It also ensures that your family will be able to sit together, and the extra time allows for prayer, or a bit of a buffer if something goes wrong.

Second, set a fixed time when you will leave for church and make sure everybody knows it. Some people have a terrible time with this, and I’ve never quite understood why. Here’s how it works. Figure out what time you want to be at church, subtract how long it takes to gets there, and … like magic … that’s the time you have to leave. If you find that you are habitually late, either you’ve miscalculated how long of a drive it is, or you’re lousy at math. So make an adjustment.

Third, divide the hour immediately preceding your departure into three 20-minute intervals: 20 to eat breakfast, 20 to get dressed, and 20 to fix hair, brush teeth, etc. Of course the 20 minutes for breakfast includes putting away bowls and plates, and the 20 minutes for dressing means completely dressed and ready to go. And that includes shoes, ties, purses and hats — which don’t take their final resting place on the head until the hair is done, but you can’t have the child running around looking for a hat when it’s time to get in the car.

The final 20 minutes for hair is another buffer. If your little girl is ready on time, she gets the fancy hairdo, but if she’s late, she just gets a pony tail. Not that you should let her be late. Your job is march around the house like a drill sergeant, reminding everyone how much time they have to finish the next stage.

Believe me, regimentation makes life a hundred times easier. It sounds constricting, but it’s actually quite liberating. Everybody knows what’s expected and they eventually fall into a rhythm. (That is, so long as you’re consistent!) A little bit of discipline goes a long way to making a happier house on Sunday morning. And it’s so much easier to enjoy your tea when you know to a dead certainty that you do have the time to enjoy it. Spending budgeted time is just like spending budgeted money. You feel much better about it.

I anticipate an objection. Someone will say, “but we’re always so busy on Sunday.” That is precisely the point. Remember the commandment, “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”? Don’t get distracted by theological disputes about Saturday v. Sunday, or whether the ten commandments still apply, or any of that. The moral point of the commandment is clear. We structure our time around our obligation to God and not the other way. This means that Sunday worship is a given.

If your parish has several different services, I would recommend that you choose one and stick with it — not as a fixed rule that can never change, but as part of the effort to sanctify the day. If you start choosing which service you’ll attend based on other priorities, you’ve missed the point of keeping the day holy.

Remember, God comes first. We don’t fit Him in around lunches and other events.

-- 2004-09-01  »  Greg Krehbiel


  1. Julie
    1 September 2004 @ 7:32 am

    Spot on Greg and quite convicting. We “blew” our Sunday for want of a little regimentation. If we had planned it ahead then we could have, despite the move, made it. I really dropped the ball on that one.