Life in the 21st century has a lot of perks. A quick trip across the country is commonplace. I decide what book I want and Amazon brings it to me in 48 hours. My wife asks for pizza and Papa John’s is standing on our porch within the hour. It seems like everything can be ordered on demand.
From this “On Demand” mindset has sprung the notion that such a thing as “quality time” stands in distinction to “quantity time.” I frequently hear both young people and old people say they just need some quality time with a friend, spouse, or other family member. It’s almost like the McDonald’s drive-thru. “Yeah, I’ll take a side of quality time with my Quarter Pounder.”
I’m not sure if my Dad ever explicitly talked about quality time with me, but his actions sent a powerful message that didn’t need words. We spent lots of time together. In fact, we probably had more time together than any of my friends had with their dad. And, this all happened while my Dad was working 60 hours per week. Instead of talking about quality time, he created quantity time and then used it for eternal purposes.
We had crazy amounts of quality time because we did everything together. Dad focused on creating quantity time and then redeeming it. Instead of trying to create some magical Disney experience, we just did everything together.
We caught a high school guy stealing from the Sunday School teacher when I was about 10. I went with my Dad when he drove to the kid’s house to tell his dad. I rode the bus with him every Sunday, starting at age 3. Tuesday night visitation? Yep, we did that together – and Dad even made me do the talking before I hit Junior High. I went on a missions trip with my parents to Eastern Europe when I was in 8th grade.
Our quantity time involved lots of ministry, but that wasn’t all. We’d go to the Little League fields to scout my 11-year old opponents and to enjoy a hot dog because nothing tastes as good as a “dog at the ball park.” For my 12th birthday we went to St. Louis to watch a Cardinals game and our friend who played for the Cardinals let us into the clubhouse immediately after the game. I stood 12 feet from Mark McGwire giving an interview in just a bath towel the season after he hit 70 home runs. That dude was massive. We mowed the yard together. The neighbors thought I was too young for this and actually offered to baby sit me so that Dad could mow. They missed the memo about quantity time. I could give countless more examples.
Our quality time came in the midst of the quantity time. The relationship built in the quantity time made the possibility of quality time into a reality. Placing an order of “quality time” in the absence of quantity time is simply a myth of modern life.
With 2 kids of my own now, I’m starting to understand how difficult it is to spend large quantities of time with my kids, especially in light of all the other commitments of life. And yet, I know that my girls need quality time with their Daddy. And, thanks to my Dad, I know that quality time only comes in the middle of the quantity time.
How have you seen quantity time lead to quality time in your life? Leave a comment!