Connection Over Content
About a year and a half ago, I was in a conversation with a group of staff from our church, and we were talking about how to best engage people during the height of the “stay at home” orders that so many of us were experiencing. We had done a great job of moving church services to online versus in-person, and we were creating a lot of great content for folks to consume. As we talked about what we should be doing, a few words came to mind. I wrote something in my notebook that looked like this:
As we talked, something dawned on me. I was hearing a theme from all of us that had been echoed in some other conversations I was a part of. I said something like, “What we need to do is focus on the connection between one another over the content.” A lot of us had been scrambling to make sure we were providing people with stuff to watch and read, some great content that helped people learn and grow in their knowledge and faith. Many of us had been on Zoom calls with people who attend our church, and although they were thankful for all the great resources we were producing, they were missing the personal connection – the relationships. We needed to make sure that we weren’t just creating a lot of stuff for people to consume, but we needed to make sure we were connecting with people in a real way. Connection is always more important than content.
As I think about my parenting and how I interact with my kids, I believe this same concept applies. As parents, we have a lot of great “content” to share with our kids as they grow up. We have years of wisdom about so many topics that we sometimes can’t wait to bestow on our children. We know stuff that they don’t know. We have the information they don’t have. We can see things that they can’t see. We sometimes feel like a big part of our “job” as parents is to impart all this knowledge to our kids and teens so they will be armed with the information they need to make wise decisions. This mindset is not wrong, but I do think it’s incomplete.
I am brought back to something I heard and learned many, many years ago. You’ve heard it too. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Boy, is this true of our kids. If we simply become a fountain of knowledge that spills out onto them all the time, they will quickly get tired of drinking what is flowing. They will roll their eyes (both actually and internally), they will shut their ears, and, more tragically, they may close their heart. If I think about it, what I really want is to have a real relationship with my kids when they get to their young adult years. A wise mentor shared that goal with me years ago. I do want them to have the knowledge they need to navigate the world effectively, but not at the expense of a relationship with me. I just need to remember that the connection I am building with my kids is far more important than any information (or “content”) that I might share with them. Do I stop sharing the wisdom that I have? No. But I do need to make an intentional effort to value the connections we make over the content I share. I don’t need to be an expert who has all the information they need. I need to be a safe place where they know what I value most is the relationships we have and the love we share.