If there is one area of my life where I would like to go back in time to “re-set” my priorities, make different choices, and love others better, it would be within my family. The fact is, I can’t go back to change the past, but I can be intentional now, with God’s help, to be the person He designed me to be for my husband, my children and grandchildren, my aging parents, and my extended family.
Why do we naturally work so hard to please and to do good works for those outside of our family circle – some who are practically strangers – and yet, we allow the worst of our character traits to surface with our spouse and children? Often too, it is our actions more than our words, which relay to others what is really important to us. We give the best of our time and of ourselves to those things and people we love most. Our kids figure that out about us, early in life, and often follow the pattern modeled to them when they have their own children.
As we look around us to recognize the consequences of self-centeredness, materialism, and the seeking of self-gratification and pleasure, we see divorce, addiction, violence, crime, suicide, and many other maladies of our generation.
What if things could be different? What if families functioned as God intended?
Christ said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” I am convinced that if we love our own family first, sacrificially seeking each member’s greater good as more important than our own, we will see a transformation in our family that extends to the community around us.
To catch this vision, consider the strategies for good works to our family as outlined in The 210 Project:
- Be clear about your call to love radically, as Jesus loved – this sets the foundation for what we teach our children about character and our relationship with God
- Pursue your God-given passion in partnership and agreement with your family. As co-author Don Ankenbrandt says, “Do what you love, and take others along with you.” Passion is contagious and often opens doors for others to discover their own passion and calling.
- Character trumps gifting and ministry assignments. What your family needs from you more than anything is God’s character, as demonstrated through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control are all beyond our own capability to express 24/7. But, as we yield each moment to His power, our family will begin to see these traits in us more and more.
- Be intentional about doing good works for, and with, your family. Join loved ones in the passions they pursue. Expose your family to many opportunities for service. Plan activities to serve together.
Imagine, family members loving and serving one another sacrificially. Their love and service then overflows into their neighborhood, so that widows are ministered to, fatherless children have a neighbor family that loves them and helps to meet their needs. Neighbors are looking out for one another, and young people are finding their purpose and calling. Crime rates are reduced while community value is increased – and the future is brighter for all. This vision is more than a dream, it can become reality, and it all starts with your family and mine.
Carmen Pate is a Principal of Alliance Ministries. Learn more about their mission and The 210 Project at www.alliance-ministries.org