On June 29, 2014 Tim Hoch wrote “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be.”
It didn’t take long for it to go viral, and it has made many appearances on my friends’ Facebook walls. Though I don’t know if Mr. Hoch is a Christian, and can’t agree with everything he wrote, I do know many of the observations he made are not only applicable to the family . . . but are biblical.
Using Tim’s 10 ways and God’s infallible Word, let’s see how we can stop making our family life harder and start glorifying God with it instead.
“1. You ascribe intent.”
Your son scratched a Wolverine-sized gash in a friends dining room table. Your daughter failed her Chemistry test. Your spouse seems less-than-interested.
But, of course, you know why. Whether by way of crystal ball, mental telepathy, or your own self-proclaimed divinity, you know exactly why everyone does what they do. And amazingly enough, it all seems to be a personal affront to you.
There are two dramatic biblical principles that will shut down any and all me-myself-and-I offense taking.
- Most of the time, personal offenses grow out of perceived grievances. Likely, there was no real sin involved, you just took it that way. I Corinthians 13:7 reads, “[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” When I genuinely want God’s best for someone (love), I will easily support her in trouble, believe the best about him when pessimism comes knocking, have high expectations for what she can become in Christ, and even endure the difficulties with him. It’s not about me when I live that way. It’s about my family.
- But what if people actually sin against me? When Potiphar’s wife asked Joseph to lie with her, he understood the greatest sin wouldn’t be against himself, Mrs. Potiphar, or her husband. He asked “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9) Your children’s greatest danger is not offending you, it’s offending God. And when you’re consumed with the significance of God’s glory, it is very hard to take offense.
Is there a way to rightly understand a person’s motivation short of asking them? Yes. But there’s only one way. I deal with that issue in good detail here.
Otherwise, stop assuming you know why your daughter is hanging around with that guy you forbade and start dealing with the biblical principles about obedience that will help her glorify God.
“2. You’re the star of your own movie.”
This observation flows so well from the first, because it’s my preoccupation with my own plan that makes it so easy to think everyone else is either patting me on the back or stabbing me in the back.
But how well does it work when a group of people all living under the same roof decide it’s “my way or you’d-wish-you’d-ran-away”?
Let’s look at Jesus’ example.
As the almighty Lord and Creator of the universe, He set aside His rightful expectations and became a man (Philippians 2). Yet not only did He submit to His earthly parents, spiritual authorities, cultural edicts, and secular government, His entire ministry on earth was defined by one repeating mantra: “I am here to do will of my Father.”
He preached and prayed and healed as directed by the Father.
He suffered the agony and torment of physical torture and death to fulfill His Father’s will.
He even experienced temporary separation from the Father in order to purchase back unredeemed souls because that’s what the Father had deemed necessary.
Yet we think we have the right to write our own scripts, direct our own scenes, get the girl and the gold medal, and time the explosions all in high definition 3-D.
“Not My will, but Yours be done.” Luke 22:42
Instead of divas, imagine a house-full of servants.
“3. You fast forward to apocalypse.”
“The sky is falling!”
Not only will “hoping all things” help destroy this mentality, but we must ask ourselves how big our God is.
Is God big enough to provide financially? Is He powerful enough to help you parent? Is He in control of sickness, weather, and lost TV remotes?
Or is all lost the moment you lose control of the situation?
Bad things don’t happen to Christians who love God!
Yeah, I said it.
Romans 8:28 is a set-in-stone promise that God is providentially working in all things to receive the highest glory and to accomplish the greatest good for you. But the caveat is that you must love Him and be striving to live a life glorifying to Him.
If you’re not trusting Him when your son loses that scholarship or when your daughter gets pregnant . . . you don’t have any certainty that the situation will work out for your good.
Stop being pessimistic. It’s a sin.
“With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Just read any of the Psalms that extol the greatness and mercy of God!
“5. You are waiting for a sign.”
I love that God used Gideon. But He was an idiot sometimes.
A pre-incarnate Messiah appears to Gideon and promises him great things. Gideon, unsure that this very normal looking man is who He says He is, asks for a sign. Gideon gives the man food and He miraculously causes the food to spontaneously combust and be consumed. Gideon immediately believes that he’s going to die because he’s convinced he just saw God.
But then when the Angle of the Lord returns to him with battle instructions, Gideon asks for another sign.
You see, Gideon knew who the Angel was. His God-given authority had already been established. All that was left to do was obey, but Gideon was scared.
You don’t need a lay out a “fleece” to decide whether or not you should do what God’s commanded. Is it right? Do it. Will it glorify God in your family? Do it! Yes, there’s wisdom in a multitude of counselors, but those counselors should be advising you from God’s Word.
God’s not going to keep your fleece dry. He’s told you everything you need to know in His Word.
“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” II Peter 1:3
“6. You don’t take risks.”
One of my favorite secular quotes comes from an unlikely source. Oscar Wilde once said,
We serve an awesome God Who has tasked us with an awesome responsibility.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20
But they’re risky responsibilities too . . . at least from a human perspective.
Being an obedient child seems risky to an unsaved teenager.
Being an involved parent puts you in risk of heartbreak.
Being a virgin teen is risky to social status.
Being an outspoken voice for God’s Truth is a risk because it drops you in front of the world’s firing squad.
But remember, we serve an awesome God.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.” Mark 11:23
What if this year were the year your family started taking the whole “family life” thing seriously? Dad, take a risk. Be the spiritual leader in your house. Kids, take a risk and be the only ones at school who stay pure. Mom, take a risk and trust God to help you speak Truth into your kids lives.
“7. You constantly compare your life to others.”
In his article, Tim Hoch takes this opportunity to quote Teddy Roosevelt:
Unfortunately, it’s the thief of more than just joy. Try, it’s the thief of worship.
Have you considered that the first and last of the 10 Commandments are perfect bookends? If I have no other God in my life, and I don’t covet what anyone else has . . . I won’t break a single one of the other commands.
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13
Remember that awesome God Who’s promised to provide all of our needs and pour upon us the wisdom of the ages? He knows what we need. He’s promised to provide exactly what we need every time. We just have to be thankful for what we have. Paul learned that from repeatedly experiencing God’s provision and love.
I’ve often said that I don’t have a million dollars because God doesn’t want me to have a million dollars at this point in my life. And I’m fine with that.
Why would I want something that isn’t the best for me?
Now, picture children who’re content with the food on their plates and the clothes in their closets. Imagine a husband who’s content with the wife of his youth, and a wife who’s content with the income her husband provides?
Stop making your family life more difficult by wanting things God knows aren’t best for you.
“8. You let other people steal from you.”
It’s sadly ironic how we delegate our time.
Work and school get the most. Then after that there’s a flock of activities, friends, entertainments, and meetings that swoop in to peck at the remaining crumbs.
Doesn’t it seem that God and our families have to fight to get even a sniff of our time?
This year we need to stop letting the less important steal from the more important. Family bonding time and intentional times of worship are vitally necessary.
Your kids friends are great, but they don’t need to steal your children every weekend for sleepovers. Your golf buddies are nice guys, but do they spend more time with you than your wife?
Let’s prioritize our time better.
One of the harder passages of Scripture tells us not to cast our pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). The intention of these verses is to teach us that when people refuse to hear the truth and become violent scorners, likely there’s someone else we should be sharing that truth with – someone who will listen.
As above, we pour our energies into work and our social lives outside of the family so much that when we finally meet around the dinner table we’re able to accomplish less than Middle East peace talks moderated by a mime.
But that’s not right for our families. Whether children or parents, we need to put as much effort and interest into interacting with our family as we do hanging out at the mall or finishing that project at work.
“9. You can’t/won’t let go.”
You’ve been hurt.
Your spouse isn’t the person you thought they were.
You parents always seem to smack you down and rarely seem to encourage you . . . and then they tell you they do that because they love you.
I get it. We’ve all been there.
But the Bible is downright aggressive on the subject of forgiveness.
“’Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’ Matthew 18:21-22
“See to it . . . that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;” Hebrews 12:15
“But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15
You will never have a successful family life if bitterness, anger, and an unforgiving spirit scratch away at the joy of every encounter.
Give and get forgiveness.
If everyone in your family went to sleep every night happy to be a part of your family . . . when would you ever have time to hate each other?
“10. You don’t give back.”
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34
Are you a disciple of Christ?
Love is serving. It’s doing what’s in everyone else’s best interest. Christians should be “giving back” more than anyone else. Getting the “one anothers” right is a life-long endeavor . . . one we’ve all been commanded to undertake.
And now we’ve come full circle. Imagine a family unit joyfully giving for everyone else. Older brothers wouldn’t mind losing board games to their younger sisters. Moms would look forward to washing the clothes. Children would look forward to washing their own clothes!
Not because it ultimately brings them satisfaction, but because true love is happy when they’ve sacrificed for others.
Are there habits in your family life causing it to be way harder than it has to be? Is your family merely a sitcom caricature of the beautiful creation God has in mind?
These 10 steps and God’s absolute Truth will go a long way in helping you have a happier, more Christ-honoring family this year.
Have you reached a crisis point with your teen son? Check out Victory Academy for Boys for in-depth help.