Even if They Weren’t Perfect
“My family had no faith.”
“My mom always criticized me.”
“My father left us.”
No matter what kind of family you had, there were strengths in it that help you today in your ministry. In some families, it can take a lifetime (and a lot of therapy) to look back and see those strengths. In others, the strengths are easy to see. But it’s helpful for all of us to look at our parents with adult eyes, and begin to relate to them adult-to-adult (even if they are no longer living).
1. Families teach us who we are Our parents, typically, are the first ones who tell us who we are, positively or negatively, directly and indirectly.
“He’s so smart.”
“Can’t you ever get your homework done on time?”
When we grow up, we have to figure out who that person is for ourselves, the task of a lifetime. But that basic sense of identity (even if it had some quirks in it) is a gift to us.
2. Families teach us how to relate to others We learn as children whether to mix it up with others or stay out of the way, how close is too close. I grew up in a family that wasn’t terribly close to extended family. I’ve learned to cultivate and appreciate those connections. But I also gained the idea that it’s important to be self-sufficient, and moving to a new part of the country can be an adventure.
3. Families get us to adulthood If you are alive and well and working, your family did more right than wrong. They got you fed and educated well enough that you can function day to day. In the midst of real pain about the challenges, we can neglect to be grateful for the basics.
4. Families teach us about faith Even if your family had no faith, you have some basic trust, or you wouldn’t be doing your ministry. If you were raised in a tradition you left behind long ago, think about what you gained from that environment. What do you still hold on to?
5. Families create resilience and adaptability I told one pastor I coach who grew up in a conflicted family, “You are well prepared for your ministry.” He’s a genius at helping churches in conflict settle down. Every family faces challenges, some more than others. We all learned some skills in our families that we use every day.
What gifts did your family give you? Please share in the comments below.
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