By Josh Haycraft
Family—a word that at times can bring the ultimate comfort, and also the greatest anguish. Through all the moments of a family there are two things that, if taught and caught, will sustain us throughout life: Respect and Love.
Family can take on a variety of definitions and is not relegated to being only a child and parents. Family can be used to describe the extended family and include the multitude of grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles, etc.
Family can also be used to describe people that are loved but are not related to us. An example of this is a view of how I see my family, which consists of my wife and daughters, and an extended family, which consists of my parents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. I also have my family of fellow believers, as well as a family that consists of my military brothers in arms. In all contexts, the members of my various families can and do provide me with care, support, and growth.
Many years ago when I became a husband and later a father I felt uncertain about what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and so on. I plodded through life making decisions based on what I thought was right and wrong and it wasn’t until I became a Christian that I learned of the most awesome source of insight we have available to us. Thankfully this is a source we can turn to in which instructions are provided and stories are used to highlight important life lessons that previous generations of men and their families have learned from. This is not a recent bestseller from the self-help section of a bookstore—it is the Bible.
The Bible provides instructions to each member of the family from both the Old and New Testaments. The family unit is shown in Proverbs 1:8 as being a supportive system in which each parent is viewed as important, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Later in Proverbs 15:20, we are provided an example of wisdom being, “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.”
Paul, while writing to the Christians living in Colossae provided Christians the instructions that we must follow in order to have a truly Christian household. Colossians 3:18-21 tells us:
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children.”
In following these instructions, we are expected to have a household and ultimately a family that is filled with respect towards one another based on love. If respect is the bricks that build the house of a Christian family, it is love that is the mortar that keeps everything together. Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
While working at Summit Counseling, I have had the opportunity to work with several families that had severe problems. In all instances, I witnessed a loss in the families’ love, respect, or both among the family members. I have seen that through working together, the most distressed families can achieve fantastic growth once they begin to love and respect each other again. We do not have to allow our relationships to continue to suffer and deteriorate. Instead there are some things that we can do daily as a family in order to promote growth and increase our love and respect.
- Begin a family time of devotion: The goal is to provide a time of open communication in which all members of the family share, learn, and grow together in His Word and in His Spirit to achieve through His power all He intends for us according to His perfect plan.
- Eat together away from all distractions: Break away from the tablet, television, and phone and sit together as a family to enjoy your meal and talk about the highlights of your day.
- Set aside time to do things together: Most of us lead busy lives between work and school. Schedule some time to do things as a family such as going on a short trip or include everyone in completing household chores.
Josh Haycraft is a counseling intern at Summit Counseling. He lives in Brandon with his wife, Heather, and their daughters, Christa and Jada. He is a member of Pinelake Church.