10 Practices for the Family on the PathWay to the Shalom Home
The most precious and sacred relationships on earth were instituted by God – marriage and the family.
Marriage is so sacred indeed, that God calls it a covenant relationship, and even says it’s like the relationship of Christ to His Bride, the Church. And God is the author of procreation – it was His idea for children to be born into the marriage. Being family is a beautiful God-thing. It is intended to provide a safe haven in society. A safe haven for husbands and wives. And a safe haven for children to grow up in. This means creating shalom in the home.
That’s not easy these days! Because we live in a society with fragmented relationships. So many marriages have fallen apart because of sin. God’s grace is big enough to enable couples who are both walking steadfastly with Him to forge a firm commitment to the solidarity of their marriage, even through extremely difficult differences and situations. But where one or both in the marriage allow sin (not trusting and obeying God and His Word fully) to enter their hearts and distort their lives (sin is always destructive), they frustrate the flow of God’s grace to their marriage. Thus, fragmentation of relationships sets in, and too many times, leaves a trail of heartache and brokenness in its wake. My heart grieves for their pain, and I pray that each person affected will plunge back into the flow of God’s grace so that He can heal their fragmented hearts and lives and guide their feet back onto the pathway to restoration of wholeness.
So it requires intentional effort, based on a resilient relationship with God and intentional conviction to commitment, to shape the home as the safe haven of shalom that God intended.
We didn’t have a perfect family life while our children were growing up. None of us were perfect individuals! But perfection is not the goal for individuals, nor for the family. Rather, shalom is the goal. “Seek shalom and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:15; 1 Pet. 3:8-12, TLV).
We do praise God for His help with our family thru the years, thru many challenges! And we feel that our children have become some of the most wonderful people in the world! – no, we’re not prejudiced at all. 🙂
Here are some of the principles we tried to pursue to create shalom in our family while we were raising our kids:
- God first – We made intentional effort to express and demonstrate our love for God and to praise Him for every blessing, in the good times and in the difficult times. We wanted the kids to know that God was central in our lives and in our home.
- Our marriage was primary – We intentionally did things to show that our marriage was primary in our family, because we believe that helps children to have a greater sense of security. We had dates fairly regularly. We tried not to disagree with each other in front of the children, and stuck together in our decisions. We praised each other in the children’s presence. Keeping the marriage solid and primary can enable the flow of strength needed for the challenges of raising kids.
- Live consistent lives – We felt it was important that the children understand early that we meant what we said, and we said what we meant. We tried not to say things that we were not prepared to follow through on. And we tried to practice what we ‘preached’ in training them.
- Discipline appropriately – We believe the Scriptures teach parents to be strong enough to require respect and obedience for authority. When they disobey or display behavior otherwise, there are consequences for those choices. It’s not always easy to find a good balance between love and firmness, but we tried to discipline appropriate to the incident, in ways that displayed both our displeasure as well as our love.
- Train, train, train – We felt that training was more important than discipline, hopefully making discipline less necessary. We wanted them to be raised with intentional direction toward becoming respectable, capable, mature adults.
- Develop their strengths – Starting at an early age, we observed their strength and interests to affirm and assist them in their development, so that by the challenging adolescent years, they had developed a good sense of identity and personal confidence.
- Encourage humility – A good sense of identity and confidence is important, but haughty pride and arrogant over-confidence can backfire. On the other hand, a victim mentality, low self-esteem, acute shyness and backwardness is very limiting. The goal was to guide them toward a good healthy balance.
- Teach the truth of God’s Word – We endeavored to lead them to believe and love the truth. Otherwise, they are open to delusion – this is a dangerous time to be open to delusion! They needed to develop strong conviction and courage of their own to stand for the truth and to always do the right thing. Our society desperately needs to return to a love for the Truth, which begins in our homes.
- Trust God to make up the difference – The best of parents can’t be all that children need. Having the most wonderful marriage and raising the greatest kids is still an incredible challenge, which requires supernatural help from God. We do our best, then we trust God to make up the difference!
- Visualize or imagine your shalom safe haven home – Have you ever imagined what a deeply nurturing family life would look like for you and your family? I think God would be pleased for you to ask Him to help you move along the journey in that direction. God’s special grace is available to guide you and help you make the necessary changes along the way. You can’t change others, but you can change yourself – with God’s help and grace, over time. And while God is in process with you, as you continue to do what is right, you can commit the others in your family into His hands and pray for them, knowing that they are also in process of changing and growing and becoming better people as they too submit to God’s great grace.
That is the journey of life – changing, growing, and becoming better people, as the flow of God’s grace works in us and thru us – to the glory of God in our communities, in our society.
It’s a journey toward the shalom home, with momentously meaningful moments along the way.
Enjoy the journey together!
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