My wife and I get addicted to television shows. We don’t watch much TV when it’s on, we pretty much just watch shows on Netflix and if we happen to catch something as we’re flipping through the channels. So right now the shows that Alicia and I are keeping up with are Bones and LOST (yes I know we’re a little behind the times but there have all 6 seasons on Netflix!). However, one night I came home from a meeting at church and found my wife crafting and watching a show that included men decked out in camouflage and talking in deep southern accents.
My immediate questions to my wife was, “What are you watching?”, because for a girl who loves the Food Network and shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “What Not to Wear” this show was a little out of her realm. I wrote the show off and didn’t really give it a second thought, until we caught a marathon on A&E. We started watching this show that featured a family in Louisiana who turned making duck calls into a million dollar industry. Just in case you have never seen this show, I want to give you a little sample I wanted to post a clip from the show:
Now I could easily say that I watch this show as research. I use a lot of television analogies when I speak, in an effort to relate to our students. Some people may not totally understand this philosophy, but if there is anything that I can do (within reason) to help a message hit home, I will do it. However, to say that I watch this for research would be more lying than truth. See I watch this show because it is funny. I also watch this show because it has amazing family values.
The idea behind this show is to follow a family who works together. If you have ever been around a family owned and operated business, then you know that it has various complications. When someone does something wrong you can’t simply fire them because they are related to you. On this show, when an order doesn’t get made in time it is a brother, uncle, or another family member who is the person to blame. Confrontation is hard, but family confrontation is that much harder.
The thing that made me fall in love with this show was not the confrontation or the silliness of watching 4 grown men try to catch frogs at night, but the way they end each show. As much confrontation as each episode brings, this family is closer than most. At the end of most episodes you see the family (Grandparents to grandchildren) eating a meal together and praying together at the table. Honestly, I pray that there would be more families like the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty.
I want not just to build good kids but to build godly kids and godly families. As the saying goes, “A family who prays together, stays together.” I would encourage you to watch Duck Dynasty with your family because it is one quality family program. I also pray that God raises up more families like this one that both struggles and prays together.
We all know the Bible talks about family. That’s a given. Today I just wanted to share with you a few passages that have stood out to me recently about family. They are all found in the book of Psalms within less than 20 chapters of each other.
“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.” – Psalm 127
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life everlasting.” – Psalm 133
May our sons flourish in their youth like well-nurtured plants. May our daughters be like graceful pillars, carved to beautify a palace. May our barns be filled with crops of every kind. May the flocks in our fields multiply by the thousands, even tens of thousands, and may our oxen be loaded down with produce. May there be no enemy breaking through our walls, no going into captivity, no cries of alarm in our town squares. Yes, joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the LORD.” – Psalm 144:12-15
As you can see, there are some powerful words that the Psalmists use about the how a family will flourish. Simply put, your family will flourish if it is grounded in God. I also bolded 3 key phrases – one from each passage. There are certainly other points to be gleaned from these chapters, but these are the 3 I want you to remember.
1. Unless God is your family’s foundation, then everything you do is pointless. This passage goes on to talk about the blessing of having children. Most people today are cautious about not having too many kids because they can be such a handful. Yes, they can be. And I’m not saying I want to have 10 kids myself. But children are God’s personal blessings! No matter how many or how few children you do or will have, all your work may be in vain. That is, unless you make God (the whole Trinity) the foundation and center of everything you do. Any other way will not succeed in the long run.
2. Spend your time cultivating a close and healthy family. Not every family will be picture-perfect like Swiss Family Robinson, the Brady Bunch, or Leave it to Beaver. That’s not what I’m saying, and I seriously doubt that’s what the writer of Psalm 133 was trying to communicate. The passage simply indicates that it is wonderful and pleasant when brothers are at peace. This stands true for your whole family. The thing is, such a family culture doesn’t come out of nowhere. You have to work at it hard! And you may not see fruits of this for years. Even the best of parents can have kids that “go astray”. Do the best you can to be intentional about cultivating such a culture, and let God take care of the rest. Sometimes family is all you’ve got.
3. Pray for strong sons and beautiful daughters. I don’t mean this physically. Sure, physically strong sons and beautiful daughters are nice, but not all boys are built to be the next World’s Strongest Man and not all girls are going to be the next Top Model (I wouldn’t want my future daughter(s) to be a model to begin with.. modesty is too important!). All that physical stuff is beside the point. I mean to pray that your sons are spiritual rocks – powerful leaders – in their generation, and pray that your daughters be the epitome of the Proverbs 31 woman. Pray that your children will grow up to be wise adults, not just good kids. Pray that they will exceed your personal spiritual growth one day. Pray that they do extraordinary things for God! This certainly won’t be easy either. In fact, the beginning of this chapter David is prayer for deliverance, and by the end he’s asking for peace for the next generation. You will have to fight for your children to have a healthy environment in which to grow, especially given today’s culture. Start by praying for them!
There are certainly countless principles, techniques, and ideas that could be offered up concerning godly families. I truly believe that these three principles are foundational and will guide you in that direction. What other Scriptural family principles are a must (comment below)?
We’ve all heard about peoples’ tendency to either fight or flight. In psychology, this shows itself evident when little Johnny is provoked and either fights back or runs away from the situation. Whether you’re on one extreme or somewhere towards the middle, everyone has a fight or flight response to life. Some people even look for fights to be had with people, while others flight so much that they avoid people altogether. Just like almost everything in life, there needs to be a healthy balance of fight and flight in our lives!
You see, the way we’re taught about peoples’ fight or flight mechanisms makes both look bad. So how can anybody stand a chance at living a healthy life being open, honest, and grounded firmly in their beliefs? We don’t. But a healthy understanding of how fight and flight fits into God’s bigger picture of who we are in Christ does give us that change.
Naturally, the prime example here is Christ. He shows us that there are certain circumstances in which we need to “flight”, or simply let things alone. I’m not saying that Christ ran away from people. But I can guaruntee you there were many times where He could have stepped in and wreaked havoc for holiness, yet He decided to let things alone at the time. For instance, while He did step in later in the story, He let Lazarus die when He could have thought it and Lazarus would have gone on living. So why didn’t He? Because God had a bigger plan to show His divine nature and power through that whole situation. There were other times where Jesus was very much a fighter! Because of this, I have a hard time taking those classic paintings of a gentle Jesus seriously. Jesus was a beast of a man! Both physically and, quite obviously, spiritually. Who can forget when He turned over the temple tables? Or how about the countless times He gave the Pharisees a smack down with a few chosen words?
So what does this have to do with youth ministry anyways? We certainly don’t have the ability to raise people from the dead or the tactfulness to tell someone like it is the way Jesus did. But there is something we can control, and that is how we respond to the people in our lives and situations that may arise. On a much more minute scale than Jesus did. Below are a few tips to how you can find a healthy balance between the fight or flight mechanism in your life when it comes to ministry:
1. Be a fighter. Ok, I know you’re confused, because I just told you there needs to be a balance instead of one over the other. Bear with me here. A fighter doesn’t mean you’re the bully standing in the middle of the ring of onlookers in the middle school courtyard as you face little Johnny. That is not what I mean by fighter. A fighter is someone who will stick to his guns and stand for what he believes in. A fighter loves God’s truth and won’t let anything secondary challenge that! When it comes to ministry, if a student is dealing with an issue or a parent comes to you with an earful of problems, remember to be a fighter for God’s truth. Don’t sweep things under the rug and pretend these things don’t exist, because they do. Don’t become a bully either. And ALWAYS remember to use tact, as Jesus did.
2. Know when to start and when to stop. There is a time and place for everything, as I’m sure you’ve all heard. In church Sunday morning is probably not the time or the place. A business meeting may be the place, but not the time. There are a bunch of scenarios, but remember to make sure that it is both the right place and time to discuss an issue that you or someone else is having. Matthew 18 tells us that we need to talk with the individual directly first, then go from there. What you can’t do is ignore its existence and avoid the issue. With that said, you’ll need to learn how to be discerning. Some issues are not worth addressing right away, if at all, while others, need to be addressed on the spot and need someone to step in and take charge. Make sure you give ample time to resolve the issue at hand, but don’t drag it on too long either.
3. Get trained. You’re a fighter aren’t you? And what do fighters do? They train. Nobody is going to face last years champion without first training their lives away. This should be the same for us as Christians and ministers of God’s gospel as well. I Peter 3 tells us to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope we find in Christ. This verse is not exclusive to apologetics, but extends to ministry, as well as many other areas, as well. Next time a student comes to you with a glaring immoral act or a parent questions your methods and character, make sure you don’t react (too much of a fight) or retreat (too much of a flight). If you’re not prepared to answer right away, then ask for some time to think and pray through some things. Depending on what it is, you probably won’t need a ton of time. But take time to examine Scriptures if need be, drown it in some prayer, and seek wise counsel (especially if you’re still new to this ministry thing). One thing we definitely don’t want to do is ruin our audience and integrity with a knee jerk reaction.
4. Be a gentle giant. Ephesians 4 tells us to speak the truth in love. I like to think of speaking the truth as a spiritual smack down, as I mentioned with Jesus earlier. But we absolutely cannot leave it at that. If we did, we’d go around all day tearing people down, ripping them to shreds, and leaving them there for the wolves. James talks about this as well. It takes a spiritual giant to be able to rightly handle the word of God in order to communicate God’s truths in a powerful and impactful way. It takes an especially gentle giant to be able to do this in a loving way that aims to bring people closer to God instead of leaving them curled up in a ball feeling either like a failure or angry with you and God. We are Christ’s representatives on earth, and we mustn’t do anything to ruin His Great Name!
Whether you need to stand up and become more of a fighter or tone it down and be less of a fighter, I hope you find today’s post encouraging. God will use is in even more powerful ways as we ask Him to give us a healthy balance between these two opposites. May your ministries grow healthier and stronger as you learn to take a stand for God’s truths!