Doing Family Right

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Parenting: Building a Godly Home

Understanding Sweat Equity—Taking the Steps to Build a Godly Home

As a young couple nearly thirty years ago, when we clearly had more time than money, we ventured into the ominous project of building our own house. It was a monumental task for a fledgling, chainsaw carpenter like me. Yet, it proved to be both a challenging learning experience as well as an incredibly rewarding one. Everything from concrete to framing to roofing to duct work to electrical to finishing, siding, brick work, landscaping and more. We read, researched and asked a ton of questions. Then, we carefully and cautiously took the steps needed to do it all. I am delighted to say after all these years, the house is still standing.

Our new home was not built by accident; it was built by clear intent. We carefully chose the house plans, made a few adjustments and then built according to every spec on the blueprint. We even ripped out a few walls to correct our mistakes when we hadn’t read our plan carefully enough. By the time we were finished and moved in, I had referred to our plan so many times that I almost knew it by heart.

When a couple painstakingly goes through a challenging task of building their own home, and not contract a professional home builder for the construction, they often do it because of the reality of “sweat equity”. We sure did. The concept is that there is great value in the homeowner’s time and effort to build their home. There is payback for the hard work you put in.

The same principle of “sweat equity” also holds true when it comes to building a great family that honors God.

When you build with a goal in mind, according to your house blueprints, you end up with a great finished product: a home that is structurally sound as well as aesthetically pleasing.  Not unlike home construction, building a Godly home with His blueprint in mind creates a family that is structurally sound and unbelievably pleasing to be a part of.

The following are some of the principles that you need to practice if you want to build a Godly home. And yes, if you follow His plans, you will truly enjoy the benefits of investing some “sweat equity.”

Follow God’s Blueprint

Make a choice as a couple that you will do family God’s way. Put a stake in the ground early in your marriage if possible, like Joshua did when he announced, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). This decision to surrender your marriage, your family relationships and your family’s ongoing well being to the Lord is a hugely significant step to take. By the way, it’s never too late to put God first in your home even if you didn’t start out that way. He can help you remodel as needed. You are not going to build a strong family by accident but by clear intention. It is very important that you know God’s blueprint – the plan in the Bible – like the back of your hand. Then, build according to the plan.

Live by the Blueprint

It is so critical that parents model the difference that Jesus makes in their life personally, as well as within the marriage. We may be saying, “Yes, God’s way is best,” but our kids are more influenced by our actions than by our words. Much more is caught than taught. For years, I have been saying that we will have a new generation of committed Christians only to the extent that this generation, you and I as parents, live totally dedicated to Jesus. If they see it in our lives, they have a better chance of finding God’s blueprint themselves and the significance He makes in a life. Donalyn and I call Philippians 4:9 the “parents’ prayer” as it says, “Whatever you have learned, received, heard from me or seen in me, put into practice and the God of peace will be with you.” We’re basically saying to our kids, “Watch us and see that God’s way is best.” Let God be the architect of your heart first.

Coach According to God’s Game Plan

Over the approximate 18 years that we have to impact our children, it should be our goal to instruct them about God’s blueprint for life. Beyond that, we need to help each child discover God’s unique plan for their life based on their unique gifts and passions. Our guidance in these critical matters is to be a 24/7 influence. Use the teachable moments – how we talk about the Lord and life when we get up in the morning, when we’re traveling, when we’re sitting down for meals, and going to bed at night. Discussing the influence of God in our lives needs to be as natural as breathing. (See Deuteronomy 6:7-9).

Make Your Home a Safe Environment

Just like the “work safe” program on a job site, your family should be a “live safe” setting. Your home should be a haven for every member of the family. In a world filled with many obstacles and threats, children should always feel free to run home to mom and dad for their support and safety. Each family member is to be cherished and respected. Proper treatment on the job site – your home – is mandatory to God. How you treat your spouse and children matters greatly to Him. What goes on in the four walls of your house is a true test of the validity of your faith. Make your home the safest place your family could ever be. Create a dwelling where rare and treasured memories flourish. (Note Proverbs 24:3 – By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

Build as a Team

It starts with you as you build well as a couple by getting on the same blueprint. Write your goals down. Then, spending time together as a family has to be a non-negotiable commitment. There needs to be extended opportunity where you love, laugh with and live with each other as family. Adjust your priorities so that time with the kids is important – for both parents. Time alone as a couple is equally as important, because one of the greatest gifts you can ever give to your kids is to love your spouse. This brings the stability and security that only caring parental love can give a kid.

Pray the Plan into Being

It is crucial that a couple reaches out to God for His wisdom and strength for their marriage, for each child, and for the issues faced in the home. Not only do we need to pray daily for our children, but also with our children. As they get older, we may not be having bedtime prayers as often, but we need to continue to pray together about significant events in their lives, and in the lives of other family members. To pray together with your kids (and your teens) during difficult times in their lives is so critical. For them to actually hear you holding them up before the Lord is a very beautiful gift. They grow to appreciate the place of prayer and begin to experience how God works in a life. The research verifies that the family that prays together does stay together – the home built will be strong to last long.

Understanding Sweat Equity

In construction, it’s the value you put into your house through the extra time and effort you expend in building it. It’s likely even more true with your family. Put God first in your family. Remember, “unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1). Live true to what you believe. Spend time with each one of your kids affirming their value to you and their incredible worth to God. Get excited about what God wants to do, not only in your family but through your family. Then, you will have a family legacy that is respected by those who matter most – your kids. Build well.

© Dr. Dave Currie, November 2011

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