Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity!…For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psalm 133:1,3
We just returned from a unique family trip/vacation. All of our children have jobs, so Sharon and I proposed a trip out west where we would pay for housing. All the other expenses would be split evenly. They agreed. And we have just returned from a week where we saw the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce National Park.
Since all of us are working, we were able to enjoy more adventures than when I was a pastor on a single salary with four young children. I won’t bore you with the pictures other than the one above in The Narrows at Zion.
As you know, traveling brings out different personalities…. and sin. And during this past week we each had a moment in those 8 days.
But what struck me throughout the week was the unity. As a father, I was delighted to watch my adult children enjoy each other… and us. That is a kindness of the Lord upon Sharon and me.
Family Unity as a Goal
Their friendship as adults with each other and us was a goal we had in the long journey of parenting. While we cannot control this outcome, I would suggest that parents can and should strive for family unity.
Since sin naturally causes all of us, parents and children, to curve in on ourselves, family unity does not come naturally. What comes easily is sibling squabbling, provoking, teasing, and grumbling.
What concerns me with young parents, is that in a desire to love their children, they don’t call them to something higher – the good of the family. Parental love does not unilaterally serve the children. Love affectionately calls the children to serve each other and live for the Lord. Thus children are loved and called to love.
How do we train for this? Here are just a few suggestions.
1. Pray for unity. Jesus prayed for unity on his final night. The love in our family displays Jesus to the world. It is worth praying for. You can pray for a unified family in private and with the family.
2. If you are married, work on the unity in your marriage. Our children need a unified mother and father. Work hard on loving, forgiving, and speaking well of each other.
3. Cast a vision for family unity. Let the children know that we are trying to create an all-for-one one-for-all attitude. We are not just living for ourselves. We are a witness to the unified, loving, triune God. Celebrate what God is doing in the whole family. The Red Plate is one way.
4. Teach your children principles that lead to unity.
a. Have them forbear or overlook small matters.
b. Don’t allow your children to grumble against each other. Rather we want to train them to actively be thankful for and serve each other at times.
c. Actively practice giving and receiving forgiveness.
5. Schedule for unity. Family dinners and trips can all reinforce family identity. What can you do together?
These are just a few quick thoughts. What are yours? I would love to hear from you.
For Further Thinking
For further thinking on this issue check out these resources on our blog.
Jen Wilkin on Developing Community in the Home – This video talk was helpful as she deals in very specific suggestions for developing unity. Her points were
- Community comes through shared rules.
- Community comes through shared responsibility.
- Community comes through shared language.
- Community comes through shared affection.
- Community comes through shared time.
- Community comes through a shared faith.
Family Love Makes the Triune God Visible – This short post helps us see the why aiming at family unity honors the Lord.
Teaching Love 101 – Home is a great place to teach the very basics of loving those closest to us.
Podcast: Dr Randy Stinson: How to Have a Peaceful Home – Dr. Stinson casts a great vision for a home that is joyful and loves each other.
Fighting for Unity – An overview of biblical and practical principles for adults.
Also, check out chapter 13 in The Disciple-Making Parent – Restoring Broken Heart Connections for instructions on how to give and receive forgiveness in the family.
Worth the Work
Make family unity a goal, value, and prayer. It will take work. There will be days that seem like a complete disaster. Persevere. Start the next day with prayer.
Like the hardworking farmer, you will see only partial fruit when they are young. The real fruit comes later when they are adults.
I am praying for your family discipleship.