by Loretta Walker
With the holiday season here, I thought I would share some principles that I try to follow during both high stress times as well as family times. Why is it that we have so many conflicts when we are with those we love the most? To all appearances, it is because we care the most about our family’s opinion of us, and we express ourselves freely with them. The combination of these two attitudes is what I believe causes so many family tiffs.
So how do we avoid them? Mrs. Marlene Evans taught me so much about planning the times that we have with individuals as well as groups. When we were planning to meet with someone, she would coach me on what that person might need from us, as well as her plan of attack on keeping the conversation going the direction that would glorify the Lord. Because of this, I rarely am with a family member without being aware of the following principles:
1 I must be more concerned about meeting the person’s needs than the person’s meeting mine. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we go to someone for the purpose of that person’s making me feel better about myself. Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” The goal of being with family is to enjoy each other, but as part of that enjoyment, you should major on being one of the builders in the group.
2 Even though you have much to accomplish, GO SLOW. This principle is especially important with me because I am a quick-moving person, and I like everyone around me to go with my flow. The Bible clearly teaches in James 1:19, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Going slow allows you to think through what you are going to say and how to say it so that most likely you will not offend a brother.
3 If you have to go fast, give lots of explanation first. For instance, I might say any of the following statements before I quickly give a command or pose a question:
• “Sometimes I’m not good at explaining things when I’m going fast, so please let me know if I say something wrong.”
• “I’m not sure if I’m being clear, so please feel free to ask any questions.”
• “I hate to throw this at you and run, but I have to go to __, and I need this so desperately I have to ask for your help.”
• “I wish I had more to time to go over this, but I have to be __ in __ minutes. The truth is, I didn’t allow myself enough time to do this properly.”
By all means, do not make your emergency an excuse to be rude and hurtful. Taking the blame on yourself will help the other person not to become defensive. Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”
4 Know who you are with. Do you know your family members well enough to know what to expect in the way of actions and reactions? Don’t say something and hope your family member won’t notice it when you know the person is sensitive and will take everything to heart. Don’t live in the “hope” that so and so has changed. You know the comments that will be made. Expect those harsh words and consider the source instead of being caught off-guard and getting offended. The verse I use to remind myself of this principle is Proverbs 13:12, which says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”
5 Be sure to stay rested and in the Bible. Please allow me to be perfectly candid with you. I find that when I am tired, my greatest relationship weakness becomes prevalent. That weakness happens to be impatience and bossiness. Because of staying up late, so much traveling, and losing much-needed rest, I will naturally become this way.
I am not the type of person who sits in the corner hurt by what someone else says; rather, I’m usually the one who is saying the wrong. So in order to control my tongue, I have to get the proper rest and stay in the Bible to keep myself sharp.
Perhaps you are the type of person who easily takes offense when you are tired and are much more sensitive and on-guard about what everyone is saying and, more importantly, why the person is saying it. Get your rest and make sure you have your devotions to empower you to practice mind control. II Corinthians 10:5, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”