What size is my paintbrush?

January 8, 2013
Artwork By Lydia

Artwork By Lydia

A few months ago in my Sunday school class I spoke about how we manage our time.

The overall concept was this: “There is cumulative value in investing small amounts of time in certain activities over a long period of time.”

I had a blast teaching this concept to the men. I guess if I speak out of my weakness I’ll never run out of ideas. I struggle so much in the area of consistency in the things that really matter. In April last year I wrote about how I wanted to have devotions with my teen daughters several times a week. Like so many other things of high importance I kept at this for a while, but it eventually fell off my list.

I fell into a trap that has detoured me more than once. I seem to think that life is made up of the big events. The year seems to be broken up into birthdays, holidays, vacations and summer. I seem to have the idea that as long as we have some big events each year I am fulfilling my duty as a good father.

This is like trying to create a masterpiece using a three-inch paint brush. This is something you use to change the color of your walls, not create art. It takes small strokes with a little finesse to create art. There is no detail with a big paintbrush. Big paint brushes get outside of the lines. They crash into the canvas and cause the colors to overlap too much. With a big paintbrush the final product is abstract. Abstract art is great. An abstract family isn’t so great.

To create deeper relationships in my family I need to be more committed to grabbing the detail-capable paintbrushes. It takes more time to paint this way. To achieve the cumulative value of the finished work I will have to make a lot of small deposits of time over a longer period of time. I have to get up close and personal with the canvas. I have to pay attention to the colors, mixing them carefully. The slightest missed stroke has the potential to severely alter the final product. I can’t just crash into the room every few months, make a couple broad strokes and hope to accomplish anything.

My life is just as busy as anyone else’s. I need to do everything in my power to avoid trying to make up for lost time by grabbing the biggest brush possible. In the critical areas of life it’s impossible to make up for lost time. I don’t want to look back in twenty years and wish I had paid attention to the size of brush I was using.

James Dibben

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2 responses to What size is my paintbrush?

  1. Right on, man! My only resolution this year had to do with being a better dad. And this is exactly how — you gotta spend the little bits of time. THe few minutes my oldest wants to tell me about her new nail polish color, the little bit of time that my youngest wants to race to the fence and back… (every day, seriously man, every day she wants to race to the fence and back!) These little things might not even be remembered as the girls age, but they are important. They build up to make closer relationships. This post is right on the money!

    • Way to go TB! Race that kid every chance you get. She/he may not remember some day but I can’t help but think it builds the current relationship.

      When my teens want to share something with me I am all ears. Half of the time they are in their rooms with the doors closed. When they have something to share I need to want to listen.