Five Home-Building Truths
By S. Robert Maddox
July 28, 2013
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15, NIV).
My four children are grown and continue to enjoy close ties with each other. They are genuine friends and guard each other’s well-being. For most of their lives they did not live near grandparents or cousins. They were born in the first 11 years of our marriage as our family moved numerous times and lived in six states. Lately, we have enjoyed a season of location stability, as Brenda and I now live in our seventh state close to some of our grandchildren.
Brenda had a crucial role in our children’s wholesome development. We chose to have fewer possessions so she could stay home and provide a secure environment. She maintained family stability through each of our moves. I determined to contribute to that equation as well. Although my workdays were often long and tedious, my after-work schedule was regularly filled with family and school activities.
Throughout our children’s early lives, Brenda and I partnered in promoting five key principles to strengthen our home. Let me share them with you.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
The home is in constant flux, from the arrival of babies, to their transition into small children, pre-teens, teenagers, young adults and beyond. Each phase has its stresses and demands. Mixed with the aging process are crisis times (loss of job, death of family members, emergencies) and catastrophic times (natural disasters and accidents). Adjustment is a major activity of life. The structure of the home has to be flexible to handle every situation.
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is built directly upon the San Andreas fault zone and is built to sway some 28 feet at the center of its 1.7-mile suspension span. The secret to its durability is a flexibility that enables sway; but there is more.
By design, every part of the bridge is relayed up through the vast cable system to two towers and two land anchor piers. The towers bear most of the weight and are deeply imbedded into the rock foundation beneath the sea. In other words, the bridge’s structural integrity relies on both flexibility and foundation.
Mom and Dad are twin towers of strength, providing a foundation that occasionally bends to keep the family together. A wholesome family is not designed to suffocate individual expression and personal identity. Homes are to blend without consuming each member. Parents need to work together and be flexible.
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:24,25).
These verses give attention to distinctive yet equal roles in marriage. Problems need to be solved together.
In my home I could easily assess a problem, determine a solution, and move to a remedy. If my wife was not assertive in the decision process, I could become accustomed to charging ahead without her input. Although this attribute has been seen as strength in the professional world, it is not fair to the family. Moving quickly toward a solution is not wise.
As Brenda and I have worked together to give room for each other to contribute to a course of action, we have prayerfully discerned many a correct choice and been able to navigate our family in a manner we both find fulfilling.
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. … Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1,4).
Parents must be immovable with regards to morality. Not every issue is open for debate. Standards of morality, integrity and responsibility are non-negotiable. Brenda and I continually emphasized requirements in attire, activities and amusements.
There is no getting around the Scripture that reads, “Reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Parents often want for their child what other kids experience, and may be hesitant to establish needed boundaries. Yet, saying “No!” to unwholesome activities only deprives children of decadence, danger and damnation. God honors those parents who stand for what is right instead of bowing to what is popular.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Homes do not do well without laughter. The family dinner should be enjoyable, holidays should be filled with games, and outings should be great adventures.
My own father was generally quiet and reserved. He could give the family clear direction with a minimum of speech. But in the midst of his economy with words, I vividly remember his contagious laugh. He had a silly side that suspended tension in the home.
Fun does not have to mean expensive. You don’t have to fly your kids to a world-famous resort or buy exclusive tickets to a headlining performance. The trails and scenery in your city’s local parks are much less costly. Many free and inexpensive activities are available if you just do a little research.
Family fun adds a spark of enthusiasm to life.
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
I place this principle last, not because it is least in importance, but to help you to visualize it as the foundation of everything else I’ve shared.
Bible study, church attendance and prayer play invaluable roles in strengthening the family. If Jesus is number one in the lives of you and your spouse, your children should naturally see Him as number one in your home. The issue cannot be sidestepped nor minimized. Homes reflect the faith of every member.
Faithfulness to church should be more than showing up at a service each week. Everyone, regardless of age, should be involved in the cause of Christ. In a healthy relationship with God, personal ministry is not optional. Look for ways you and your children can volunteer. Let your children see you writing out your tithe check each week. If you give them an allowance, remind them that a tithe belongs to God.
Children can contribute in various ministry activities. A “sittin’ in the pew” kid struggles to stay connected to the church later in life. They develop a mindset that the church should be providing for their spiritual obesity. Every age should be active in the church, keeping it spiritually vibrant and alive. Children are not the church of the future; they are the life source of today.
Five things should be woven into the fabric of the family: flexibility in structure, fairness in rules, firmness in morality, fun in relationships, and foundational faith in God. These broad principles allow for a host of individual expressions.
God doesn’t cookie-cut families from one immovable pattern. Partner with your husband or wife in customizing these truths into your family’s daily life.
S. ROBERT MADDOX, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, lives in Ozark, Mo. He blogs at bob-maddox.blogspot.com.
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