August 30, 2017

My son Jason says, “I have often had problems bigger than me, but I have never had a problem bigger than my family.” As his father that’s one of the most powerful and encouraging things to hear, and if you don’t know Jason’s story I can promise you he’s not saying that lightly. Strong families are God’s way of showing humanity what heaven relationships look like.

Today I want to continue our conversation on the blog about healthy marriages and healthy family. In case you missed it, I recently wrote about the importance of having a healthy marriage as a foundation for a healthy family. Now let’s take a look a little further into what makes a family click, whether that be in a marriage or with your children or siblings. Here are four of my favorite keys for a thriving family:

1) Communication—the real, honest and respectful kind. Let me start by saying that the goal of great communication is not agreement, but rather it’s understanding one another. If the objective of the communication is to win the argument, (to be right), it is impossible to reconcile the relationship. Communication, by its very nature cannot have a loser and a winner; it can only have two winners.

One of the main goals of a healthy family is to create a safe place to listen and be heard. I don’t just mean listening with your ears and then continuing with what you want to say. Not at all! I mean listening from the heart, not the head. Beyond listening, it’s important to create a family culture where you share your feeling not just what you are thinking. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind.” Don’t be a fool who only wants to share your mind. Rather, listen with intentionality, ask questions to get clarity, and make sure the other person feels heard and understood. I’m also not saying that understanding means agreement! You can’t base success in conflict on agreement, or you will manipulate each other into thinking the same thing! Understanding means I see you, I hear you, I empathize with you, and I want to help you.

2) Connection–meaning you have a heart to heart bond that renders you inseparable. This goes back to choosing each other, every day. And in troubled times, reassure your loved one that your commitment to them is unwavering. Fostering your connection means meeting each other’s needs and intentionally choosing to meet them in their passions, instead of just your own. Your connection needs to be protected. A lot of people will punish their family (even if they wouldn’t call it punishment, it really is) by disconnecting when they’re hurt. Think about giving someone the cold shoulder—that is a proactive way to disconnect and punish others. That’s no way to help people feel safe and valued in your relationship! Remember, love covers a multitude of sins.

3) Trust–the foundation of every relationship. A person’s word is their bond, and we must do everything in our power to fulfill our vows. If you can’t trust each other in family, you’ll never feel safe or released to be fully free and vulnerable in the relationship. So how do you build trust? You choose honesty, which is truth in action. Colossians 3:9 says, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices…” Honesty is not only the best policy but it’s the only policy in family. And while we’re on the subject, withholding information is deception! Particularly in a marriage, a husband and wife relationship is a full disclosure relationship. Anything less is a cracked foundation and keeping secrets about money, sex, relationships, or opinions about important subjects destroys trust.

4) Consistency–where your repetition is your reputation. This applies in marriage where it’s your responsibility to consistently show up in the relationship. It’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver so that the people in your life know that when you say you’re going to do something, they can count on you to do it. This also applies in parenting and specifically in discipline. Discipline is not punishment. Discipline says, “I love you too much to let you continue to have that attitude.” Children must be able to count on your consistent response every time. Beyond that, the husband and wife need to have a united front when dealing with their children.
Parents must not paint the other spouse as the bad guy, or have mistimed mercy.

Lost Your Keys?

Today I want to pray for everyone who has lost one, or all of these keys. Perhaps you never had them as your own to begin with. Well I’m here to tell you that today is a new day! You can take a step towards a healthier family culture right now. I encourage you to take some time today and see which one of these is highlighted to you. Or perhaps God has something else He wants to speak to you, then take that key, know it’s yours to use, and watch God unlock love and freedom in your heart and those most dear to you. I release you from any condemnation or fear of messing it up in Jesus name! I say that you are being transformed by God’s love and by the renewing of your mind. May these words would be life over you! How can you take one step towards a healthy family culture today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Topics: All TopicsMarriageMorality


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