Don’t you love it when people tell you what’s good for you? As I made a pastoral call at the hospital, a volunteer dispensed a daily dosage of free advice. “Put on your sneakers and shorts and hit the pavement,” she commanded. “Running will strengthen your body.”
Our families are important to us, and whatever we can do to strengthen them will have a positive affect on our world. My friend at the hospital knows that it takes a plan of action to build a strong body. The same is true in strengthening the family. Because we have no plan, many of our families just limp along. We may be living together, but growing apart.
Let me share with you a very simple blueprint that you can utilize right away for building a strong family.
Family has priority
First, let the individual members of your family know that they have priority over those outside the family. This kind of commitment builds loyalty and devotion into the home.
I heard Crawford Loritts of Atlanta tell of a weekend when he had to attend important meetings in Chicago. He assured his wife and children that if they needed him he would come back immediately. While at the meetings, a severe ice storm struck Atlanta causing power failures and accidents. Crawford called his wife to see how they were coping. She never complained, but he could tell she was concerned about the situation. He immediately left the meetings to return to Atlanta. Crawford said that when he walked into the house, his son met him with these words: “Daddy, you really meant what you said!”
That kind of experience builds a strong family.
Time for family
The next step is to spend time with your spouse and children. Time spent with family members indicates the intensity of our commitment to them as valuable persons. I’ve heard it said that it’s not the quantity but the quality of time you spend with a person that is important. However, I have learned that my family members do not always have their problems on my “quality” time. It takes quantity, as well as quality, to develop lasting relationships.
I don’t want to be one of those writers who beats up on dads, but we are the most negligent in this area. A Cornell University study revealed that fathers spend an average of only 37 seconds a day with their children. No matter how first-rate the quality, that’s not enough time.
Look at your schedule to see how you can increase the quantity and quality of time spent with your family.
Work at solving problems
The third component in this family-building plan is to work at solving problems in the midst of crises. There is no such thing has a home without conflict. Marriages may be made in heaven, but the details are worked out on earth.
In strong families, conflicts and crises are times when the members pull together in order not to be pulled apart by the imposing difficulties. With the Lord Jesus present in the family, and the Bible as our counsel, no conflict or problem is beyond solution.
Be an encourager
The fourth element in our plan of action is to affirm the value of each of our family members. Expressions of sincere appreciation will strengthen any family relationship.
We all want to be talked to, to have our existence recognized and to be told that we are appreciated. At Jesus’ baptism, Mark records these words: “And a voice came from heaven: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11, NIV). Here God the Father meets three basic relational needs of Jesus: the need to belong, the need to be loved, and the need to be praised. These encouraging words strengthened an already strong family tie.
Improve your score in showing appreciation by listing the two best qualities of each family member. Make a date to be alone with them and communicate those qualities that you admire.
Another family building idea is to catch your children being good and tell them. The results will astound you!
Build a stronger family
It’s time to “pound the pavement.”
First, commit yourself to the goal of a strong family.
Then, with this plan of action in hand, take intentional steps toward that goal.
©2002 William Batson – All Rights Reserved
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