As I watch my children grow up right before my eyes, I have been struck by how quickly time races by. My eldest son is about to turn nine years old! It seems like just yesterday that I was trying to bounce him with my foot in his bouncy-seat as I was trying to write a sermon (I don’t recommend it, and for the record, my wife was very ill at the time). Nevertheless, now he’s almost as tall as my wife and getting older by the minute. All of this has made me realize how important it is to spend time with my children and wife.

In our home we try to have regular “date nights” in various forms. My wife will take one of our boys out for a date. This is a special time just for the two of them. My wife gets dressed up and my son will also get on his nicer clothes. She picks out a restaurant (inexpensive usually, or even a place to get dessert), and they head out. We do this for two reasons. First, we want to have focused time with each child. And, second, we want our boys to know how to be a gentleman by treating a woman respectfully. Once my daughter gets old enough, I’ll take her on dates so she can have some focused attention and know how a gentleman should treat her. From time to time I’ll spend some bro-time with my boys to similar ends—I want to deepen the bond we share. Dedicated time with our children is precious and these date nights are a great way to foster the relationship we have with our children. Sometimes the tyranny of the urgent can rob us of focused time with our kids and I don’t want to get to the end of my time with our children to find that we never spent quality time with them.

The same holds true for my relationship with my wife. As important as our children are, my wife and I take as much time as we can to spend with each other. The time that our children will live under our roof is a season in life. At the end of the day, it will just be my wife and me once the kids fly the coup. I don’t want to get to the point where we’re empty nesters and discover that I don’t know my wife because we’ve spent the last twenty-years living separate lives under the same roof. To keep this very real threat at bay, my wife and I will have date night as well. Very rarely will we go out to a restaurant because paying for dinner and a sitter can be a financial burden. But one of the things we try to do is schedule time together once we’ve sent the kids to bed. Sometimes we plan to watch a movie together, or sit out in the backyard by the fire pit to share a beverage and chat, or we’ll plan a candlelight dinner for the two of us in the kitchen. In one sense, my wife and I are constantly struggling to carve out date nights for the two of us, but we try nevertheless so we can foster and continue to build our relationship.

Date nights are not only important for pastors and their families, but in truth, for any family. Take time to spend with your family and spouse. You won’t regret it.