What makes a good family? Good theology, regular family worship, separation from the world, modest dressing, listening to good music, going to a Biblical church, homeschooling? All of these things may be good, but none of them, by themselves, are what make a good family.
A good family is one where there are arguments — even heated arguments, there are happy times and there are sad times, there are financial troubles and medical troubles, there are lots of days with at least one person falling on the floor giving way to a big belly laugh, there is hard work and there is relaxation, there is discouragement and hope, there is boredom and anticipation, there is sadness and there is joy. Most good families even have to go through serious trials and hardships. But most of all, a good family is one where the members have two very necessary tools:
1. they know how to communicate properly with one another, and,
2. they know how to resolve conflicts.
They can get mad at each other, but not sin (Ephesians 4:26). They know how to confront, but in the right way (Ephesians 4:15; Romans 15:14). They know how to affirm and encourage (Philemon 4-7; Hebrews 3:12-13), and not just flatter (Proverbs 29:5). They know how to love (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2; Romans 12:9) and how to forgive (Luke 17:3-4; Colossians 3:12-13). They know the difference between being self-focused and others-focused (I Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4; I Thessalonians 5:14-15), and, lastly, but most importantly, they know how to pursue peace (Hebrews 12:14-15; Titus 3:1-7).
Unless you are one of the very blessed and had two parents who knew all this stuff and gave you these two tools, you’ll have to acquire them yourself. Don’t expect to absorb this knowledge through the skin by listening to seminars or have it miraculously flow into your brain by the laying on of hands or be given it on a silver platter. If you’re like most of us, you’ll have to work at it.
It’s a two-step process.
Step One: Realize you don’t have these two tools and that you need to get them
Step Two: Get them
Many people never get to Step One. It’s pretty much all God that gets a person through Step One. You can’t lecture, force, manipulate, or convince a person through that step.
I’ve read a lot of counseling books over the years, starting back in the early 70’s when I was in college. There are the solid counseling books:
Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave: Finding Hope in the Power of the Gospel by Edward Welch
Anger Management by Richard Baxter
Anger: Escaping the Maze by David Powlison
Breaking the Addictive Cycle: Deadly Obsessions or Simple Pleasures by David Powlison
The Exemplary Husband: A Biblical Perspective by Stuart Scott
Grief: Finding Hope Again by Paul David Tripp
Blame It on the Brain: Distinguishing Chemical Imbalances, Brain Disorders, and Disobedience by Edward T. Welch
When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man by Edward Welch
Communication and Conflict Resolution: A Biblical Perspective by Stuart Scott
Depression: Looking Up from the Stubborn Darkness by Edward T. Welch
Facing Grief: Counsel For Mourners by John Flavel
Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Triumphing Over Sinful Fear by John Flavel
and then there are the fad counseling books.
The solid, foundational counseling books are ones you need to buy and keep in your library.
Your Family, God’s Way: Developing and Sustaining Relationships in the Home is one you’ll need to buy.
Part One of Your Family God’s Way lays the groundwork and discusses men, women, and children’s roles in the home — but that’s just a small part of this book. We all know what the IDEAL husband, wife, and child should look like. It’s the getting there that’s so difficult.
Part Two of Your Family God’s Way deals with that first necessary tool: communication.
Topics covered include types of communication abnormalities that people have, hindrances to communication, and because this book is heavy on the application part, what you can do about these problems. Sometimes, reading about a particular communication abnormality will help a person get through Step One.
“…we’re constantly sending out messages without even opening our mouths.” page 57
“If I avoid eye contact with you, I’m communicating.” page 57
“Never underestimate the significance of your nonverbal behavior.” page 60
“…nonverbal communication is often misunderstood.” page 62
“Learn…the need to see how others may read your nonverbal behavior. Insofar as it is possible, make sure that your nonverbal behavior communicates to others what you want to communicate, what you are actually thinking and feeling.” page 70
“Explaining the meaning of your nonverbal behavior to others is an essential part of effective communication.” page 72
“…be cautious in our interpretation of another person’s actions.” page 73
“In some instances ‘undertalk’ is manifested by topic avoidance.” page 81
“‘Small talk’ sometimes is disguised in the form of apathetic talk.” page 82
“Deficient sharing prevents intimacy and hinders efforts to build your family God’s way.” page 83
“Acknowledgment deficit may occur during family discussions when one member makes a contribution, but no one else pays any attention.” page 83
“No Christian family that takes God and His Word seriously should allow ‘undertalk’ in the form of a lack of commendation to rule the day.” page 84
“Selfishness, stubbornness, and a desire to punish are the roots of ‘small talk’s’ power in other families.” page 85
“People hesitate to speak freely because they fear that others may use what they say against them.” page 86
“…certain people have a propensity to dominate conversations.” page 99
“…defensiveness and excuse making are frequently practiced in families today.” page 101
“Takeover speech also qualifies as ‘overtalk.’” page 102
“Certain non-stop or motor-mouth speech is a kind of ‘overtalk.’” page 102
“‘Overtalk’ may take the form of badgering others…” page 103
“An abundance of self-centered speech is a common type of “overtalk.’” page 104
Circuit jammers to communication
“The Bible indicates that all of us practice lying.” page 115
“Exaggeration is a more subtle, but equally lethal form of lying.” page 116
“When people fear they will be misrepresented, they avoid discussing issues on which they don’t want to be misquoted.” page 119
Sidetracking “happens when, in the course of conversation, no one issue is thoroughly discussed.” page 119
“Hurling harsh and cutting words at family members will surely distance them from you, both spatially and emotionally.” page 121
“Scripture encourages us to become experts at the ‘dribble’ technique. Dribbling soft, gentle, respectful words to people will draw them closer to you.” page 121
“Cancellation speech…occurs when something is said in one breath and taken back (cancelled) with the next.” page 122
“Cancellation speech often manifests pride intent on exalting self by keeping others in their place — a lower place.” page 122
“Ventriloquistic speech takes over for the other person.” page 124
“Some speakers project the attitude that once they have spoken on a subject, nothing more can be added; the ultimate has been spoken.” page 124
“Some people constantly complain and find fault.” page 125
Part Three of Your Family God’s Way looks at the second necessary tool: conflict resolution.
“R.T. Archibald noted that ‘peacemakers…carry about with them an atmosphere in which quarrels die a natural death.’” This statement is really at the heart of Your Family God’s Way, and Wayne Mack gives some practical ideas on how you can become the peacemaker in your family.
Your Family God’s Way allows for self-examination through the extensive list of exercises at the end of each chapter. In these exercises you will be evaluating yourself and your family in the light of the truths found throughout each chapter, plus you’ll find practical guidelines for implementing these truths.
With knowledge comes power. This book gives you the knowledge and thereby the power to transform your family from one of pride, complacency, apathy, and status-quo. This book gives hope, but expect to work. Expect painful work.
Read Your Family God’s Way together as a family and do the homework at the end of each chapter. I guarantee it will benefit your family in a thousand ways. Do it now, while your family is young.