Steps Toward Overcoming a Family Mess
by Dave Young, Evangelist
One of the major factors in our generation is that many families are a mess! Many homes are broken and the results are enormous – bitterness, anger, and resentment between former spouses and almost every negative emotion under the sun among the children. Some families are still together but have embraced the crazy lifestyle we refer to as “super busy.” From my perspective, it seems that a busy home can have almost as many issues as a broken one. In the church, we have both the broken home and the busy one along with perhaps a few other varieties as well. While many have pretty awesome reputations at church, their character at home lags far behind their reputations. And the results are catastrophic – ranging from bitterness and anger to frustration and confusion. Some will even resent and resist Christianity because of the inconsistency that is evidenced by such failures. How in the world can we overcome these problems? Perhaps we can start with these four steps:
- We can overcome these problems with humility.
Humility is the opposite of pride. Pride is self-focused and self-serving. Pride produces anger and bitterness. It is our pride that makes us difficult to be around and it is our pride that drives people away from us rather than bringing them close.
Humility brings grace into our lives. When we humble ourselves we begin to recognize our weaknesses and we cry to God for his help. When we do, He gives us His grace. Every time too. Humility also results in other people offering us grace. Have you ever noticed that when a preacher falls and responds in arrogance and denial, it turns everyone against him? The opposite happens when he humbly admits his sin and repents. His wrong is still there, but he can now be loved and even restored to fellowship in the body of Christ. Humility is that powerful!
So we must start with humility before God and before others. A dad may need to fast and pray and apologize. A mom may have to ask forgiveness and allow God to grow her spiritually. An angry son may have to go to God and resolve his heart issues of bitterness and anger. Humility works, and the results are amazing.
- We can overcome these problems with responsibility.
It is imperative that we overcome the failures of the past so we can become the men and women God has designed us to be. Sometimes a man or woman will excuse the failures of their present because of the failures of their past. Perhaps they had a troubled home-life and never felt loved or affirmed. Perhaps they were treated with anger so many times that they eventually embraced the anger and became the very thing they hated about their past. The answer is to accept our responsibility to overcome such failures. We must allow the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to mature us and grow us. We will never overcome the messes of our generation as long as we keep repeating the messes of the past generation! Sons who have endured angry fathers should set out to become the gentle and loving man that God designed them to be. It will take learning and applying the Word of God. It may even take getting some counsel. It will take healing some wounds and allowing the love of God to fill us and change us. It will take responsibility and it will help us to overcome the problems that are damaging our homes and families.
- We can overcome these problems with gentleness.
We must be willing to address and respond to every issue with gentleness. A family mess naturally leads to negative issues like anger, resentment, and bitterness. As believers, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of gentleness in our lives. He may lead us to slow down and live differently – to work less hours, to buy a smaller and more affordable house, and perhaps to drive older cars. He will teach us to respond to each other in love — the love that is always kind and gentle. He may lead us to participate in less sports so we are not so busy and “stretched so thin” in our schedules. A gentle father will not raise his voice and embarrass his son. A gentle mom will respond with a meek and quiet spirit even when the laundry is unfinished and the next meal is expected sooner than later. A gentle daughter will respond to her brother in kindness and with affirmation. A gentle son will calmly defend his sister or younger brother. Gentleness will be evidenced by the way we listen (rather than defend and interrupt). Gentleness encourages and edifies. It also turns us into genuine Christians who positively impact everyone we meet.
- We can overcome these problems with love.
Love, as you know, is vital to Christianity. It covers a multitude of sins. It is THE fruit of the Spirit. It keeps the door open for genuine communication. It is the husbands and dads greatest responsibility. It is commanded for wives and moms. There is no way to overcome family situations without it. Love defeats the enemy. Love overcomes the problems. No matter what happens in your family, be sure that they know of your love. It has to be said. Often. It has to be sustained. It has to be shown. It has to be shouted — meaning that love should be louder than any disagreement, louder than any issue, and louder than anything else that has contributed to our family failures. Love never fails!
God cares about your family. He cares about you!
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,