Lets face it, its hard to change old habits. And nowhere is that more obvious than in the way we relate to family members. We tend to treat our families the same way we were treated as children. . . which can be a good thing. . . if we had loving, godly, emotionally healthy parents. If so, youll find you instinctively tend to do the right things when parenting your children or relating to your spouse. Modeling will always be the best teacher. But what about those of us who didnt have such good modeling? You see, we also learned from our models. So our instinctive reactions usually make things worse. How can we break that cycle of wrong attitudes and poor relational skills. How can we establish a new environment for our households? The answer, of course, has to do with recognizing a need for change and then deciding to let biblical values transform our behavior. Families are complex networks of relationships and attitudes. Changing a troubled family into a loving, harmonious one is not easy or done quickly. In some cases it may take decades, but the seeds we plant always come to harvest sooner or later. If we stop planting bad seeds and start planting good, then time becomes our friend. After all, families a re a life-long investment. Today well review some principles that make healthy families, and as we do, remember weve all fallen short in one way or another. The Word of God is not meant to bring us condemnation or discouragement, but to give us hope and show us the seeds that grow loving families.
1. Establish Jesus as Lord
- Apply the same standards for everyone (no one is above the rules).
- Pray, read the Bible, go to church, tithe, serve others, repent/forgive.
2. Pray for your Family
- This changes the spiritual influence at work on them; it also changes you. Lay hands on them when possible. Daily mention them before the Lord with a request or two which comes to mind.
3. React with Faith, not Fear
- Fear (because we love) can make us angry or controlling which drives away those were trying to protect. Instead, voice your fears to the Lord and let Him give you a promise to stand on. (Christian media and sermons can encourage fear.)
- Watch their spiritual health and love for you.
- Lying undermines trust. Tell the truth but do it kindly.
- Confess your faults; this does not undermine respect, it restores respect and rebuilds trust.
- Nothing destroys a family faster than lying.
5. Determine to Forgive
- Dont ignore offenses, seek to reconcile.
- If it bothered you it needs to be addressed. Weeds start small but keep growing.
6. Dont Compare
- Why arent you more like so and so?
- Look for the gifts God has put in that person and encourage them.
7. Dont Play Favorites
- This is a devastating influence in a family.
- It produces envy and hatred.
8. Regularly Speak of your Love and Thanks
- Dont assume they know how you feel.
- These two words have enormous power to change attitudes.
9. Make Time for Each Other, Each Day
- Morning/evening prayer.
- A meal together (TV off).
- Even when youre tired or sad (dont let your feelings control this).
10. Plan Events to Look Forward to
- This requires a calendar and deliberate planning, otherwise the urgent demands of life will never let this happen.
- Anticipation transforms the dreariness of routine.
- Playing is a skill (we need to be taught how to play and we need models that give us permission to have fun).
- Dont leave Jesus at home (Sunday is still Sunday).
1) Describe two things your parents/parent did right that became a good model for you. Have you continued that practice?
2) Name one of the above principles you already do well.
3) Which one of the above principles could you start doing soon?
4) There are many helpful principles not included in the list above. Ive listed ten if you were going to add #11 what would it be?