I’ve been behaving this way for about 30 years, though not all the time and not in equal measure. For about five years, I tried to fudge one or two, add in some others I thought made more sense, and generally proved myself to be foolish at every slice. I need them all. Since 1995, however, my wife and I steadily improved our consistency. We, and our children, have profited more than I can adequately state.
Rather than a set of rules, we used these attitudes as values to guide us. We taught these values to our children and held one another tightly accountable on each one. Our attitudes paid rich dividends. Ask yourself which one or two your spouse or children should avoid. Which one do you think others want you to go slack on?
Virtue is to be preferred to gold. ~Allen family motto (from Ireland, which is odd since we all know the Irish prefer whisky to either virtue or gold, and I am definitely Irish).
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23
1. Put others first.
- Make their day
- Share each others’ burdens, needs, and feelings
- Be first to offer acceptance, compassion, encouragement, respect, and security
- Love one another sacrificially. John 13:34
- Look out your own interests, and also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
- Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
- Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14
2. Live an open and honest lifestyle.
- Add honor to the family name
- Live the truth
- Take the harder right—it’s worth it in the end.
- Putting away lying, for we are part of one another. Ephesians 4:25
3. Offer correction lovingly; receive correction humbly.
- Discipline yourself
- Ask for feedback
- Give Scriptural advice
- Take the wise path
- He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame but whoever heeds correction, is honored. Proverbs 13:18
- Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. Colossians 3:21
- Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19
4. Clean up relationships.
- Apologize before things get out of hand
- Talk through problems
- When you mess up, clean up
- First be reconciled… Matthew 5:24
- Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Do not let any rotten talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful to others, building them up according to their needs… Eph. 4:26-27, 29
- If anyone is caught in any transgression, … restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1
5. Participate in family life.
- Keep the family stories alive
- Spend time with your family
- Pray for each other
- Show gratitude
- Help out around the house
- Give kisses and hugs
- Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, use it to care for one another, as good stewards of God’s universal kindness. 1 Peter 4:8-10
6. Give something back.
- Make the world better
- Support justice
- He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6
- He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
7. Follow leaders within biblical boundaries.
- Choose your attitude
- Respect old people
- Ask for help
- Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. Exodus 20:12
- Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. Ephesians 6:1, 4
- Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them? Hebrews 13:17