5 Signs of a healthy family, by Dr. Gary Chapman

In a healthy family, there will be… I. …An Attitude of Service (Scripture:  Ephesians 5 & 6).

5:22  Wives, submit to your own husbands; 5:25 Husbands, love your wives; 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right; 6:4 Fathers…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.  Service is a way of life as we do this out of reverence of God (Eph 5:21). 

Two Games to foster Service within the family:  Game #1:  Statement to instill service, “I really appreciate that.”  Response to statement, “And I really appreciate that…”  The purpose of this game is to have a heart of appreciation and gratitude.  This shows both love and respect for those that we serve.  Our family is most paramount.  That is, if we are not serving in the family, then how can we serve elsewhere effectively?  Game #2:  Statement to instill hope of service, “Do you know what I would really like you to…”  Response to statement, “I’ll try to remember that…”  Note:  This is not an expectation that you statement will be immediately acted upon.  Rather, it is to share what you would really like and the other would respond that they are hearing.

Service opportunities beyond the family:

1) Daily Sharing Time:  This could be done around the dinner table (or family devotion or before family game time).  Family member that served that day, “One act of service that I did today is…”  Have the family respond in a very positive way to encourage that service attitude.

2) Plan a Family Service Project (Scripture:  Colossians 3:23, Mathew 20:25-28).  Ideas could be to work at a food shelter, rake the neighbors yard (without getting paid – ask for permission first).  Help someone in need. Visit the sick at the hospital (nursing home and/or assisted living).

II.  …Intimacy between Husband and wife (Ephesians 5:31; Genesis 2:24).  Intimacy is much more than just physical.  Types of intimacy (men take note):

1. Intellectual Intimacy – this entails sharing thoughts, opinions and desires).  This does not entail putting the other down or dismissing their ideas as stupid or insignificant.  Rather, take the time to learn each other and grow with each other.

2. Emotional Intimacy – sharing your feelings

3. Social Intimacy – trips together, outings and dates (with and without the family).  Taking the time to invest in each other’s passions together (this does not mean that I have to knit and she has to golf or run…)

4. Spiritual Intimacy – (note:  Only 40% of couples that profess the name of Jesus pray together).  This takes time and may be uncomfortable for some.  Ways to build up to this is to share scripture together and thoughts on what spoke to you in that text (verse, chapter, book).

5. Physical Intimacy – sharing each other’s bodies. 

III.  …Parents will teach and train their children (Ephesians 6:4).  Two action steps are to:  1) Nurture – training by action and 2) Admonition – teaching by words.  Note that both of these actions must always be done together.  This two are always best done in the context of love.

IV.   …Husband will be loving leaders (context Ephesians 5 & 6).  Husbands are to be the Head, savior (be like Jesus as he heads the church. Husbands are to love and give to their wives (5:25-28).  Husbands are to feed and care for their wives.  Husbands are to leave their parents and become one flesh with his wife.  Husbands are to love and lead their children.

Husbands should not only be willing but to be able to ask these questions to their wives: 1) What can I do to help? 2) How can I make your life easier? How can I be a better husband to you?  Just think if the world could see every marriage in the Church of Jesus loving and serving each other – WOW!

V.   …Children will obey and honor their parents (reference Ephesians 6).  Obedience is a healthy word and a must in our daily walks as Christians.  This should be modeled to our children (they should want to own our faith…).  Steps that need to be instilled (taught and learned from our children) are:

1) Build respect

2) Build responsibility

3) Build character (Obedience comes before honor)

How do we teach obedience?  1) By our model.  2) Let them learn by letting them suffer the consequences of their actions.  Mom’s if you are always repeating 2 to 3 times for your child to act and they respond only on the third warning (when you come to them and change/modify their behavior).  The challenge is to take this 3rd action step to the first.  So let’s say little Johnny is up in his room playing and making a mess with his toys.  You (mom’s) tell him that you are making dinner and before he comes to eat, that his room needs to be picked up.  Instead of warning him once, twice and then coming up to inspect and correct the 3rd time, take the action step 3 and make it action step 1.  That is, “Johnny, I want you to get ready for dinner and have your room picked up when I call you when dinner is ready” (dinner is then made).  If the room is not cleaned (guess what) Johnny missed dinner, misses story time misses the privilege of obedience.  This is a lesson that they will learn not to repeat when they know that your first action step means business.  Let’s say Johnny is 16 and learning to drive and getting the car on Saturday and Sunday.  Chore:  Johnny before you take the car, the car must be washed no later than 12pm Saturday.  Saturday afternoon rolls around (and Johnny missed the 12pm deadline).  He asks for the keys to the car and lo and behold, you say, “I am sorry Johnny.  The rule was clear and precise.  The car was supposed to be washed by noon on Saturday.  You cannot have the car.  Let’s hope you don’t miss the deadline next week.  (Johnny won’t miss next week – he knows you mean business). 3) Teach obedience by rewarding obedience (Psalms 19:11).  Honor is caught not taught!

Homework assignment for you and your family:  Give a copy of I. thru V. and have each family member rate our family on each point from a scale of 0 (really bad) to 10 (really good and God-honoring).  Pick one to work on together...

More to follow,

Dante