Guest- Mike Cataldi- Are you out of alignment?

Greetings brothers and sisters of Christ and all who are reading this! I would like to first preface this post by saying that this is more of an accountability post, for myself, than it is a sharable topic for Discerning Dad. I also will preface this by saying that it has been over 20 years since I had to write something of this nature and by no means am I a wordsmith. I would like to thank Discerning Dad for the opportunity, as well as constant follow-up, so that I can get this topic down in writing that the Lord put on my heart at our recent Men’s retreat in August.

As the title may suggest, the topic at hand is around the alignment of our lives and whether or not we are aligned (with our priorities) with what God tells us throughout scripture. Looking back in the days of Ward and June Cleaver, the man of the house would go off to work (9 to 5) while his wife stayed home and maintained the household and children. He would come home to a home-cooked meal and be present in the home for his family. All seemed right and family was the main priority.

As we fast forward to today, the average household most likely looks nothing like it did in the 1950s (this is true whether a Christian or secular household). Technology advancements now allow for work to follow us home. Both man and woman of the house work (or have work-like activities that are quite time consuming). Smartphones and social media have taken over the time that would have been spent with our kids, who are also spending large amounts of time connected to devices as well. The divorce rate is significantly higher and the rate of child drug addiction, teen pregnancy, and child suicide has increased in the hundreds of percent. What do these things have to do with the topic at hand? I think a whole lot.

What does God’s Word say about how we should have our priorities aligned? Well, there is nothing in one specific passage of the Bible that says the order we should have all our priorities. To figure this out, you have to look in multiple passages and add up the message for yourself. What I have found, I will present here. I am more than open to receiving any insight others may have, as I am far from an expert in this topic! Here is the order that I think makes sense and I will break down each one with references to scripture below.
1. God
2. Spouse
3. Children
4. Extended Family
5. Brothers and Sisters in Christ
6. Everyone (Everything) Else

God – Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

That says it pretty clear, in my opinion. If I am giving Him all of my heart, soul, and strength, then that pretty much puts Him at the top of the list! So….what does it mean to put God first? What does that look like? I have my ideas and would love to hear yours! I think that it would mean that the first thoughts, when I wake up in the morning, are of thanks and praise to God. That I get on my knees and pray to get my day started. Throughout my day, I am talking with Him and praying over decisions that I have to make, whether work or personal. That I do my best to prevent negativity to enter my mind, through my ears, eyes and thoughts. That I lead my family in daily reading of scripture, prayer and praise. That I tithe and give without any negative thought about that money leaving my account. That I help others in any way that I am able and that I be an example to others of what Christianity should look like.
Just a couple of things, right?

Spouse – “A married man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.” (Ephesians 5:25).

For you ladies, “In the same way, wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22).

All this adds up to the fact that our spouses need to be second, only to God. So, how should this look in our households? For husbands, I think it starts by being the spiritual leader in the house. We have to set the tone and our wives have to follow our lead, when it comes to our spiritual lives. Men, this is THE most important job that God has given us. Our number one priority is to protect our household, spiritually, and we do that by being obedient in this step. Ladies, that means we need your support! It is ok to kindly call out your husband if he is distracted and slipping on his spiritual duties, but to take his place would go against God’s will.

Outside of our spiritual duties, there needs to be dedicated time for husbands and wives to spend together, daily. This means no kids or distractions, just the two of you talking about your day. This is a great time to pray together! Men, this time means so much to our wives! You need date nights, and time away together!

Both husbands and wives need to agree on financial decisions for the household, as well as decisions made about your children and families. Remember that you have entered into a partnership with each other and with God!

Children – “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV).

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 NIV).

We are raising the future Princes and Princesses of the One True King! This is an area that I often struggle with and have to be constantly reminded that what we do has much more of an impact than what we say. It is really easy for us to allow our busy lives to distract us from properly raising our children the way that God wants us to. That is the enemy at work! The enemy wants us to be distracted so that he can get to our kids unnoticed. As I said above, the rates of child drug addiction, teenage pregnancies and child suicide have rapidly increased and I believe this is due to our homes being out of alignment and our kids not seeing the proper example of what a Christian household should look like. If we are putting God first, our spouses second, then our kids will see that proper example and have far less of a chance for the enemy to get a hold of them. We will never be able to fully protect our kids from the world, we can only hope that the seeds that we plant, throughout their lives, bear fruit at the right time when the enemy (world) comes at them.

Family – “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 NIV).

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8).

These are some pretty serious instructions given to us! Looking at these instructions, I am not seeing an age limit listed as to when we are no longer needing to honor our parents. Now, it says honor, not obey, as once we reach adulthood we should be leading our own households (one more reason why #3 is so important). As for the instructions in 1 Timothy, it is clear that we are to take care of our family. It does not say, “Provide for their relatives, as long as they agree with and obey you.” I myself have a multi-generational household and I think it is a really cool thing for my daughter to experience. I grew up living with my grandparents and I really cherish that time I had with them. I actually like how the downturn in the economy, back in 2008-9, forced many families to take in their parents and become multi-generational households. We can learn from and teach much to our parents, even after we are adults!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ – “Therefore let us stop passing judgement on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.” (Romans 14:13 NIV).

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17).

This is a topic that I have found to be highly debated in the church, whether or not we are to judge fellow Christians on their actions and beliefs. I have personally felt that passing judgement, on anyone else, is way above my pay-grade and that I just need to speak wisdom, when appropriate, and pray for my brothers and sisters that are straying from His teachings. I am not walking in their shoes and I do not know the struggles that they are dealing with. For the brothers and sisters that the Lord has placed close to me, I may feel a little more compelled to “call them out” with love, when needed, as I have more knowledge of their situations and can speak with wisdom. There are many verses, all over the Bible, that tell us to lift one another up, to be compassionate towards one another and to spur one another towards love and good deeds.

Everyone Else – “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

Jesus told us to share the Gospel with all that we can. If we are leading our lives in alignment with God’s word, then we will shine bright and people will come to us and ask us about what we believe. They will see how we react when we are faced with adversity, how strong our relationships with our spouses are, how our kids seem “so happy” and are great examples to the other children, and how we take care of our families and each other. Our actions will certainly be louder than any words that we can speak!

In conclusion, this is far easier said than done. Everything that I have written today goes against what is being thrown at us by the enemy. We live in a “me” driven society, which seems to only be going farther and faster in the direction opposite of God. We Christians must decide that enough is enough and stand in the gap for those that have strayed and for those that do not know the Good News! We must take action, which starts in our own households. We must get into proper alignment with God! May the blessings of the Lord be with you all! I hope you found this to be worth your time and I hope that it spurs you into action!

Mike Cataldi
Guest Discerning Dad

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