I find it perplexing today that many people would have us believe they are an expert on just about anything and every topic. Pseudo-experts write new books every year concerning the latest and greatest ways to get ahead or make millions. People approach me regularly for advice or coaching supposing I have all the answers to their problems. Some think they can tell others what they should be doing in their lives, while their life’s secret is – their situation is a mess and they can’t even see it. The Bible said it would be this way! And, some leaders are so busy picking at the speck in another leader’s eye, that they can’t even see the railroad tie that is protruding from their own. The Word of God says that God gives GRACE to the humble and resists the PROUD! (1 Peter 5:15).
Jesus showed us the way to be first in the kingdom of God, and first in our own families, AND He did it with a basin, a towel, and water. We are to get off our arrogant, self-centered high horse and get down into the filth of a dirty floor and wash each other’s feet. Yes, shepherds often smell like sheep stuff when they are working closely with them. Ever get a little stink on you? If not, why not?
I’m not necessarily saying you should practice literal foot-washing, unless God impresses you to do so, but I am talking about setting aside your pride, your wants, your plans, and your feelings so that others around you would have the chance to flourish and grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ Jesus, because you and I are expected to model the Biblical principles of humility and selflessness.
No one in our homes will grow to embrace Godly character or a healthy self-image without us each individually living out the life of Christ to our wives, our husbands, our children, our parents or our friends. People MUST see Jesus in us!
We have reared five children and I would love to tout their absolute perfection to every command of the Lord, BUT I would be lying! The one thing that made a huge difference in our 43 years of marriage and almost 40 years of parenting is this – consistent unity of parental leadership. When I speak, the kids knew that mom would not overturn my words. When she made a declaration, they knew I would not cave to their tears or pleading. We were always ONE. Sure, there were times when we had bedroom powwows over our response, but when the door opened, the words they heard were consistent and unified.
With that foundation in mind, I hope you will receive the following with sincere evaluation, knowing all adjustments require love and challenge.
SEVEN SECRETS TO A HAPPY AND HEALTHY FAMILY LEADER
- Security and Faithfulness – our spouses and our children should never, ever have to wonder about our faithfulness to one another. They should be at peace with the covenant we have made between God and our spouse. When a warning light goes on, don’t smash it out or unscrew the bulb – deal with the problem and make a choice to overcome it by the power of God.
- Communication – Many great marriage experts have already exhausted this topic. Communication is the essential to a healthy relationship, whether marital or social. During difficult times, it is absolutely vital not to do or say anything that will close the spirit of others. Keep the lines of communication open and honest!
- Courtship/Dating beyond the Ring – Don’t become lazy and sloppy! Keep the fire alive! Remember how you use to act in the presence of your now present spouse? Remember how you dressed? Remember how you smelled? Remember? Never lose the challenge of loving one another in the same way Christ loves you. Put on your best for the one who holds your heart!
- Warming Up the Iron – women are like an iron; men are like a light bulb. Men, take the time men to engage your wife in intimate conversation and intimate caressing before you sizzle! Make sure your mate receives as much or more enjoyment out of a sexual encounter as you do. Respect each other! Don’t push. Our purpose is to be the fulfiller for the needs and voids in our spouses’ heart and mind.
- Spend time to make lasting memories/moments – Camping has always been a memory-maker for us. Some good; some bad; some funny and some just plain grotesque. Places like Golden Gate Canyon State Park; Lake Mineral Wells State Park; Kerrville-Schreiner State Park hold special memories. Canoeing with my wife. Yes, I got cocky and overturned the canoe to her chagrin. My oldest son who bent back the van door when backing the van out of the garage (you gotta shut the door first). Kids who pounded on the van with a hammer, thinking they were helping me work on it. Cut fingers; stitches; a broken jaw; a broken arm; and the list goes on. Trying times, but precious memories!
- Keep the Cup Full – Give each other constant and consistent encouragement and care. What if they were taken from you today? Have you done everything you know you ought to, so they would know, without question, how valuable they are to you?
- The True Source of Love– don’t look for fulfillment in a house, a car, clothes, a job or even in people alone. Fulfillment is only found in Christ! Help your family to experience the fullness of Christ’s presence and love in their spirit and life. Your spouse and your children, and now grandchildren, should always find peace and security in your love for them.
I have read and heard numerous testimonies of how persons in a crisis or traumatic experience found strength and healing in the consistent compassion of their spouse or family. My mind goes to people like Joni Eareckson Tada (a quadriplegic resulting from a diving accident); Clebe McClary (Vietnam veteran who lost an arm, an eye, and most the of the use of his good hand); Dave Roever (Black Beret Vietnam veteran who had a phosphorous grenade explode in his hand – 14 months in the hospital and 15 major surgeries); and the list goes on.
All of these chose to let God give joy for sorrow; healing for pain; and to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3)
It isn’t wrong to avoid painful situations whenever possible, but it is wrong to deny problems, ignore them, or try to explain them away. Don’t get me wrong here; I am not implying that God causes trials (James 1:13), nor am I saying that we ought to help others suffer trials so they can gain from the experience (Romans 6:1-2). God can and does take the lousy stuff that happens to us and uses it for our good (Romans 8:28). I love how Job put it, when answering his wife’s comment, “Curse God and die.”
Job 2:10 (NKJV) “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” And the writer adds – In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
Life is messy and often unfair, and families will have differences of opinion and even arguments at times. What makes the difference between a life of victory and a life of misery is how we respond to what life throws at us. Avoid negativity and refuse to allow bitterness to dwell in your life. Be positive, encouraging, and care for others more than you care for yourself.
Where are you? Exchange your spirit of heaviness for a garment of praise. Relinquish any anger or frustration you are having with your spouse or children and let God give you peace and joy. Wage the war against our enemy, not against one another!
It is never easy to “welcome” trials as “friends,” but they can train, shape and mold us to become Christ-like. Accept each trial as an opportunity to grow and each other as that “shaping-agent” for our good! Be the leader who has a healthy, stable home and you will be much more likely to become the revitalizer who can help churches to have a healthy, thriving future.