Saturday, August 25, 2012

on family, and submission

From my 33-year-old copy of The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

Well, you know how I
love Andy Stanley (in a purely virtuous, wholesome way, of course!); well, he's started this wonderful sermon series entitled Future Family. So far, his very fortunate church has had two weeks of it, and I urge you to just take a little time and have a listen.

We all have families after all, and we all know the challenges that go with that; yet however difficult or painful things may be, most of us do want our families to work, to be held together by love and peace, not compulsion, fear or obligation. For many of us who are parents especially, we want to do well by our children, we want to avoid repeating the mistakes of our pasts. I think this profound, insightful series will give you lots to think about, whether you're a Christian or not.

In Part 1, entitled Ideally Speaking, Pastor Andy explains why aiming for God's ideal is still worth it, even when our reality makes reaching it seem impossible. "Two thousand years ago, Jesus breathed life into culture when He said, 'Women, children, men -- at the foot of the cross -- they're all equal'. And then the apostle Paul took the implication of that teaching and said, 'In light of that, here's how family should work. Here's the summary:

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' -- which is the first commandment..." (Eph 6:1-2).

"Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them" (Col 3:18- 19).

"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged" (Col 3:21).

"For me as a father, this is probably one of the New Testament teachings that I've violated the most, always unintentionally... to exasperate or embitter your kids means you say things to your kids... and you just frustrate them, you place a weight on them... And you argue, 'But what I said is true', but your words just place a weight on them that just causes them to be discouraged.

"You see, women, Moms, your words weigh about 25 pounds. Dads, your words weigh about 500 pounds... Paul knew that; he says, 'Fathers, I know your tendency... your tendency is to treat your children like a slave, like your animals... Fathers, be careful how you speak to your children.

"I'm telling you, there are so many bad parenting examples where I wish I wish I wish I wish I could go back and re-take the words that I said; in every case the words were true, but they crushed the spirit of one of my children...

"In summary:

  • Husbands, love your wives and be considerate.
  • Wives, submit to your husbands.
  • Children, obey your parents.
  • Fathers, don't irritate your children.

In Part 2, Power Down, Pastor Andy refers to that line "Wives, submit to your husbands", which is so frequently misunderstood, and so often used to denigrate the Bible. "This," Pastor Andy explains, "is actually a specific application to women of a principle that was given to everyone".

"'What does love require of me?' This was the driving ethic, the driving value, in the ministry of Jesus. Paul and Peter come along afterward and they ask, 'How do we take the teaching of Jesus and apply that to family dynamics?'. Paul [takes] the central teaching of Jesus and applies it to the family, and it just so happens this is how he stated it as it relates to wives.

"But, this is verse 22 of Chapter 5. Verse 21 actually gives us the overarching principle to which we are all accountable: 'Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ'.

"In other words, all of you Jesus-followers -- everybody is to submit to everybody in your family. Put it this way -- it's mutual submission, out of reverence to Christ.

"We're not to submit ourselves to each other out of reverence for each other, but out of reverence to Christ. This is life-, family-changing, if this can be central in your family. This is what Christian families are supposed to do. This should be the hallmark, the driving force behind Christian families.

"The principle of mutual submission means 'I'm going to leverage my power, my assets, my time, for your benefit'. I'm going to look for ways to get up under your burden, for your sake, out of reverence for Christ...

"Nobody in the family is more important than anyone else. The thing that blows this up into something powerful and wonderful is a single question: 'What can I do to help?'

"If everybody in your family, to everybody in the family, will ask this question, your family dynamic changes. This is an offer of all I am, for all that you need. I am loaning you -- me.

"Parents, you're always instructing, instructing, instructing... I want to challenge every parent, at least one time a day, to look your kids eyeball to eyeball, and say, "Is there anything I can do to help?" This keeps conversations from always going negative.

"Ladies, wives, fiancees, girlfriends, this is a powerful question to a man -- this says, I'm aware that you carry a burden, I"m aware of the responsibility you carry.

"Men, this is a powerful question because some of our wives are afraid to ask us to help them. Because when they do, they immediately feel the resistance... so what you do when you ask this question, is you open the door...

"Do you know what makes for great family? Really happy family? It's families who have said, 'I'm willing to leverage all of me, for an us'. The only reason you don't is because you're selfish. Which means, you're not willing to loan yourself fully to the equation. Which means you will never be happy with your family, ever.

"Because your whole approach to family will be, 'If I can just get everybody to do what I want them to do, I'll be happy'. No, you won't be happy. You'll be large and in-charge; you will never, ever be happy or satisfied.

"Happiness does not equate to getting everybody to do everything that you want them to do. Happiness, especially in a family, is mutual submission. [The question, 'What can I do to help?'], forces you to lean in, rather than pull away.

"Men, some of your wives can't get you to lean in. They're afraid to ask you anything. And they have no choice but to live their lives orbiting around your big ol' self... because you're more 'important'. And so they lean in and lean in until they fall over... And your kids lean in and lean in... because everybody's got to make Dad happy, and guess what -- everybody does everything they can to make you happy, and I know you -- you're still not happy!

"Because you don't get happy by controlling the people around you... The more power you have, the better servant you should be" (extracted from parts 1 and 2 of Future Family, by Pastor Andy Stanley).

Listen to these excellent messages in their entirety here. Have a loving, blessed weekend.


The Cranky said...

These are all excellent points and the only way a family will be a true excess.

I would also like to point out, if I may, that Paul also said that husbands were to love their wives as their own flesh which further substantiates this point of view.

Thank you for sharing this. =)

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

This is a beautiful post with wonderful points. Family is the most important thing to me. And a healthy dynamic is where everyone respects and takes care of one another.

Introverted Art said...

I have no problem obeying my husband, as long as he doesn't tell me what to do ;-)

Norbyah said...

thank you so much for stopping by my blog. i'm so pleased to have a new follower. i really like your blog, too. i'm an english teacher, so writing is something i enjoy as well. and of course, i have always wished to be one of those people who can make things with their hands. i dabble in knitting (though i haven't had a FO in some time). i love browsing through etsy, so i'll definitely be stopping by your shop.
are you from singapore? i'm malaysian.

Unknown said...

We have that book, but in Spanish though. My daughter loved it!!! still does! 'El Arbol Generoso'

I read it over and over and over when she was younger, then she taught hersef how to read in Spanish then she read it herself again and again!! Now Xavi likes it. Excellent post.

Unknown said...

Do you go to an Andy Stanley church? I went to buckhead church in college years ago. He's a great practical teacher, thanks for sharing!

Beth said...

Wonderful post, Janice, with a wonderful message---one every Dad and Mom should read. So true about the Dad's words weighing 500 pounds. I know from experience that just a few careless words spoken in haste by a Dad to his children can affect them years and years later. Thank you for this post.


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