Practical Ways to Love Your Family

Take Practical Steps Towards Your Family

These suggestions are relevant for families regardless of the level of difficulty. Even a good family can take for granted the blessings of genuine familial commitment. Rather than take it for granted, continue to nurture it with the following suggestions.

  1. Pray for your family. Start by praying regularly for your family and for your relationship with them.  Pray that the same grace that has changed you will fill their lives.
  2. Open up lines of communication. Call home; write letters; remember birthdays and anniversaries. If abuse has been an issue, ask a wise friend to help you decide how to protect yourself as you reach out in love.
  3. Ask for forgiveness. Every human relationship involves two sinners, so that means you probably need to ask at least one family member for forgiveness. Have you been antagonistic? Easily angered? Self-righteous? Go to the family member you have wronged and asked for forgiveness.
  4. Don’t take sides and be drawn into new disagreements.  Resist the temptation to go back to old patterns and ways of relating.  Let your family know you have no interest in taking sides and gossiping about other family members.
  5. Don’t take on the role of trying to parent your parents. Remember that God has given you clear things that you are responsible to do like pray for and honor your parents. You are not responsible to make decisions that they need to make.
  6. Be creative in how you spend your time together. Don’t just settle for a relational détente when you are in one another’s homes. Plan to do activities together where you are required to work together, plan together, and talk constructively.

Don't Use the Holiday to Air Family Struggles

Proverbs 25:11 says, The right word at the right time is like golden apples in silver jewelry. What this teaches us is that timing is important when discussing issues. There are appropriate times and there are not so appropriate times. Usually, family gatherings over the holidays are not the best time to deal with deeper family dynamics. It is often very tempting but it rarely goes well. Use the holidays to serve one another and build relational trust. This will potentially open doors for later conversations where you can address specific patterns and struggles.

Loving your family in these ways will mean dying to self-centeredness and growing in Christ-centeredness.  As you pray and ask the Spirit of God to change you, old barriers you have erected between you and your family may begin to come down. 

What has been helpful in your family? Take a moment and post things that you have found helpful to nurture good relationships in your family.

 

Copyright©2013 by Timothy S. Lane 

Comment

Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.