As we enter this holiday season, at the top of most of our lists is family. What value is health, an impressive job, a fancy car or beautiful home without people who love us? Some of us have family nearby, others have loved ones far away and still others are blessed with a church family who adores them. As with all things we are grateful for, we must invest in and protect this treasure. Whether you are married, single, old or young, it is wise to pause for a moment and say thanks for your blessings. But also to consider how well you are caring for these gifts.
Pastor Michael Tucker is the founder of 21st Century Ministries, a Tempe-based nonprofit organization that supports pastors, churches and hurting people from Ahwatukee Foothills to Lake Havasu. In his journey of comforting, counseling and assisting individuals and families in pain, he has gained some significant insights that could really help you and your family, or tips to use as you try to give others a hand.
Following are some of his insights excerpted from his newsletter:
1. Most families are much, much too busy. People are so busy that they don’t have time for the development of good relationships in the family. Parents need to learn to say “no” to good things for their children. Let each child help select one to three activities/sports outside the home. But each child being involved in four or more activities causes too much stress and frustration to the entire family.
2. Many couples have no understanding of how to spend time together. Watching TV together doesn’t count as family time. Lots of people are so engaged with sports, exercise and hobbies that they have no time left for a husband or wife.
3. It is a mistake not to include weekly worship in the family schedule. Some people treat church attendance like attendance at a concert. They go occasionally, but they are not committed to the church. Children in these families learn that church attendance is not very important
4. Raising children is increasingly difficult after a divorce. In most cases, economic problems and custody/visitation issues dominate the parents’ lives following a marriage break-up. People sob out their stories of ex-spouses and step-parents taking their children to R-rated movies and unacceptable religious meetings. Christian parents must endure watching their kids live part-time with adults who curse and practice unbiblical values.
Many people say that their family is the most important thing in their lives. But in reality they live as though their job or their own personal pleasures are far more important. Investing in your marriage and family takes lots of time and tremendous effort. But the result is so rewarding and fulfilling.
Tucker suggests that if you are struggling in your marriage or having difficulty with your children, take the following steps:
• Examine your priorities.
• Be sure that God is central in your life, marriage and family.
• Take responsibility for your own happiness. Don’t expect another person to do what only God can do.
• Get help! There are many good Christian counselors and pastors who can give you assistance.
I would add to this that if you’re single, don’t have children or are just living in a blissful, stress-free season of life, don’t tune these suggestions out. Consider how you can live your life in a way that prepares you for these challenges. What are you most grateful for and what can you do to show God and your loved ones that they matter most?
As for me, I’m overwhelmingly thankful for those who read my commentaries and send encouraging notes to keep me at it.
NOTE: Please send Mike Tucker a note of gratitude, ask him a question or contribute to his ministry so he can continue helping others. He can be reached at MichaelTuc@aol.com or www.21stCenturyMinistries.org.