It was an amazing three days with our own family and other families at Mt. Makiling Recreation Center for Family Breakthrough Weekend!
Here is the “crash course” version of part 1. We covered…
Return to God’s Design. “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.” Colossians 3:18-21
Society is reinventing the family. We need to go back to His word to understand what our various roles are and to live them out. Husbands are called to be loving leaders, and wives to be their strong supporters. Fathers and mothers are not to exasperate their children with hypocrisy, abusiveness, or neglect. Children are to obey and honor their parents. All members of the family ought to live out their roles as unto the Lord, and not conditionally. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)
Edric shared that the cultural backdrop of Colossians was not favorable toward women and children. They were regarded as property and disposable. Yet, Paul told the men, “You must love your wives.” The Bible’s views on husband and wife relationships were counter cultural at that time.
Bible.org explains that in Ancient Greece, women had the social status of a slave. Girls were not allowed to go to school, and when they grew up they were not allowed to speak in public. Women were considered inferior to men…The status of Roman women was also very low. Roman law placed a wife under the absolute control of her husband, who had ownership of her and all her possessions. He could divorce her if she went out in public without a veil. A husband had the power of life and death over his wife, just as he did his children.”
Given this cultural setting, Paul was asking the men to do something radical. It was against the norm to act sacrificially towards one’s wife and children.
Today, culture is elevating feminism and women empowerment, making it difficult for women to submit to the authority of their husbands. However, in the context of God’s design for the family, a wife is asked to subject herself to the headship of her husband, to voluntarily align herself under his leading. This is not because he is better or more capable. Instead there is a chain of command set in place by God for healthy relationships in the home that include a servant leader (husband), an able helpmate (wife), and obedient children.
The preceding passages of Colossians tell us that we can’t think like the world. “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) We are to renew our minds with Christ-like thinking where there “is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11) The roles in a family aren’t about who is better, stronger, or more important. God sees us as equal in Christ.
On the way to a retreat, Edric had the opportunity to apply what it means to love me and not be embittered. He felt annoyed with my suggestions about how to do a better job with the retreat planning, and how to cascade the plans more clearly to volunteers. Given that we were headed towards the retreat and his mind was preoccupied with what he was going to preach and teach, my timing was off. Naturally, he felt irritated. But I praise God for his humility. Instead of getting mad, he admitted that there was room for improvement in his leadership style, and he added half-jokingly, “This is why the Bible says not to be embittered with your wife.”
Since he immersed himself in studying God’s Word the week prior to the retreat, his mind was “set on the things above.” He was able to resist the urge to react defensively and with anger towards me.
Be Intentional. Unless we make a concerted effort to build relationships with our family members, we cannot influence them or have good communication with them. The first way we to practice intentionality is to mind our words. As Ephesians 4:29 instructs us, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear.”
This verse is a great summary for how to speak with family members. Use words that edify or build up (right words), mind the timing of when you say things (right time), think through your whether your words will bring grace to those who hear them (right motivation).
One of the areas where my children said that Edric and I can improve is how we talk to one another. They noticed that our words have been argumentative as of late, so they requested that we change in this area. Edric and I both apologized to them. Our words weren’t spoken with grace.
The second way we can be intentional is by spending time with our family members. Specifically, this means quality time, quantity time, and undivided time. These three elements create opportunities for our loved ones to open up, reveal who they are, and share what is in their hearts.
About a week ago, my oldest son, Elijah, randomly brought up to Edric and me that he didn’t always relate to his friends because their interests were different. His friends knew about popular music and movies; they were into social media; and some of them had past experiences he couldn’t connect with such as having girl friends or getting physical with girls. Thankfully, these young people have now committed to purity. Yet, Elijah felt like he was naive and clueless compared to them.
I praise God for his honesty. We listened to him and helped him to process what he was feeling and thinking. He concluded that he could maintain his boundaries and convictions but still reach out to others and be a good friend. He could ask people questions to get to know them and their interests without having to immerse himself in the same things if they conflicted with his own values. And if they ever ostracized him for being different, well, he didn’t need to keep them as close friends. Furthermore, he had us, his family.
Without quality, quantity, and undivided time dedicated to our family, no bonds of attachment can be formed.
I just got off the phone with my mom and I thought to myself, Why is it that to this day she is one of my favorite persons to be with? Why do I look forward to spending time with my parents and my siblings even though we are all way past being grown up, have our own families, and are very busy people?
It’s because we share a deep bond, as well as values, that make being together such a delight. We invested time in building relationships with one another when we were younger so that our preoccupations today don’t polarize us.
What are some of the practical ways of setting aside time with the family?
– Establish routines, regular rhythms that everyone can schedule their activities around, such as family date nights, family devotions, meals, sleeping in mom and dad’s room on a Friday night, going to church on Sundays, etc.
– Invest in vacations away from the harried life of Manila. Thankfully, travel is much cheaper today that it was years ago. There are many discounted flights both domestic and international, as well as Air B&B accommodations that are affordable.
– Put the gadgets away when it’s meal time or when you are enjoying activities together. (If you need to take photos or videos, that’s fine, but don’t be distracted by calls, messages, or social media.)
– Find ways to get into the world of your spouse and child(ren), or get started on a hobby or activity that you can enjoy together. It could be board games, watching a fun tv series, mountain climbing, camping, a sport, crafts, wood working, etc.
Lastly, make family members feel secure by communicating acceptance, affection, and affirmation. God the Father said of the Son, “This is MY BELOVED SON (acceptance and affection), in whom I AM WELL PLEASED (affirmation).” He was lavish and public in his expression of these words. We ought to be the same way to our loved ones.
Part 2: Discipline and Disciple