In 1858 Abraham Lincoln began his most memorable speech with these words:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Lincoln, of course, was addressing a weakness he saw in America at the time. I believe the same weakness, lack of unity, threatens to destroy many families today.
If you want a strong family, one that can withstand all that threatens to tear it apart, work on developing unity. Psalm 133:1 states:
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
God designed the family – dad, mom and kids – to live, carry on life, together. To function in harmony as a cohesive unit all moving in the same direction. That is a pleasant, enjoyable, phenomenon to be a part of and to observe.
Now, I am not what anyone would call a “sports person.” I can name some team sports. I might even be able to name some sports teams, but I don’t follow any. I have, though, seen a half dozen or so sports movies . . . and I’ve noticed a few characteristics about the teams depicted.
The same qualities that gave those teams enduring strength will contribute to family unity.
7 Characteristics of a Strong Family
An effective team works together best with a clearly identified leader. Dads, God has assigned this position to you! He has written your job description (you can find it in Deuteronomy 6:6-8, Proverbs 22:6 and Colossians 3:21), and you function under His authority. You may not feel confident in this role . . . take your insecurities to God and trust Him to give you the wisdom, courage and strength to gently guide your family.
Clearly Defined Roles
Each team member can make his greatest contribution when he knows exactly what is expected of him. The same is true in the family. Dad’s the leader. He makes the final decisions and is accountable to God for how he guides the whole crew. But he can’t do his job alone. He needs mom’s input, help and support. Together, they assist the kids in fulfilling their role . . . learning and practicing obedience and respect as they work at becoming honorable citizens!
Ultimately, the goal of a biblical family is to reflect honor to God, and we do this by fulfilling the roles He gave each of us. On a practical day to day basis, the common goal should be to help each other be the best they can be at their current pursuits. Might be mastering potty training, remembering to obey right away, learning to ride a bicycle, eliminating sassy talk, perfecting the essay model, passing a big test, getting everyone out the door on time or earning a promotion at work.
Belief In Each Other
You have to be each others’ biggest fans. God has designed each member with particular abilities. Some of these are easily recognizable; others are yet to be discovered! Look for potential and encourage it. Cheer each other on. Show affection. Express appreciation. Support interests and facilitate exploring new skills. Recognize and praise positive character. Trust that God is at work in each one to accomplish His purposes by putting you together in the same family.
Willingness to Magnify Strengths
Everyone, big and small, has them. Areas where they make the biggest contribution or shine a little brighter. Make the most of those areas. When anyone in our family looses something, we call in our Seek-and-Find King. That boy can find things like no one else! And we make a big deal out of it. Let each person be famous for something good. Make sure they know you rely on them in that area. That your family could not function without their special talent.
Ability to Minimize Weaknesses
Yes, everyone has these too. And we all need help shoring up the weak spots. But we don’t need to call attention to them all the time. Especially in front of others. Let love cover the imperfections as often as possible (Prov. 10:12, 1 Peter 4:8).
Commitment to the Team
can be IS hard. It will often seem like everyone’s working against each other. Sometimes we are. Becoming a strong family doesn’t happen automatically. It takes intentional, purposeful commitment. A strong, unified family will require more time, effort, energy and “re-dos” than you might imagine. Don’t give up. Stick with it and the rewards will outlast you.
Can I just let you know that my family has not mastered this team unity concept? 15 years of marriage and 12 years of parenting have taught us a few things, but we have m-i-l-e-s to go. There are days, weeks and months even, when it we just can’t get this team of ruffians (ourselves included) on the same page.
Each one of us is a sinner in need of God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace daily. Hourly. Minute by minute! It is only through the power of Christ that we can even pursue becoming a strong, unified family.
With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Abi is an ordinary wife and mom serving an extraordinary God. She spends her days loving her husband and keeping up with their 5 colorful, noisy kids. At the end of the day she looks forward to a quiet walk or a warm cup of tea and a good book. Abi blogs at Joy In My Kitchen to inspire you to glorify God and enjoy life with your family. You can follow Joy In My Kitchen on Facebook or Pinterest.