Q. How can my family work together to bring out the very best in one another?
A. Western Christianity’s unbiblical emphasis on individual spiritual growth makes us think that people can become their best by their own efforts. The false pride of individual accomplishment can drive some to make significant changes, but a self-centered focus limits the results. America’s regard for rugged individualism grossly misinterprets how our nation was founded and expanded. And love of psychology over sociology hides the greater power of families, teams, small groups and friendships.
The truth is that there is tremendous power in wanting to be a constructive member of a group — in this case your family — where success comes from interdependent effort. The desire to be seen in a positive light by others greatly influences personal change. The possibility of negative consequences from not being a positive member also forces resistant people to make changes.
So begin by developing a biblical family purpose. Perhaps this example will help: “To help each other enjoy life and be all that God wants us to be (as individuals and as a family).” Then, after your family has agreed on a purpose based on mutual help, most things the family does should require joint, helpful action. Kids can agree to remind one another in a loving manner to do their chores, finish their homework, etc. The family can work at complimenting and thanking one another for contributions to the family’s happiness or for a family member’s achievements.
Another idea is to create an award for good behavior. The “Excellent Family Member Award” will encourage family cooperation and help everyone feel good about contributing to the family’s happiness and success. In my family (Dick’s), we called it the Good Egg Award. Call yours whatever you wish.
Here is how it works. Each night when the family gathers (usually for dinner, but you can do it during a commercial on TV), the person who has the Excellent Family Member Award from the night before (or the last time the family gathered together) gives it to someone else, mentioning something that person did to help the family or a family member in the last couple of days.
Take anything that can make a good trophy and turn it into an award. For our “Good Egg Award” (based on the phrase back then: “You are a good egg”) we used a plastic egg (one used for Easter) mounted on a wooden block. A small American flag (or your country’s flag) in a block of wood would emphasize good citizenship. A glass goblet could be engraved with the name of your choice. I’m sure your family can come up with a wonderful trophy to pass around each day.
An award like this will: (1) affirm your family’s way of relating, (2) change sibling rivalry into sibling appreciation, (3) reduce self-centeredness in the family, (4) make everyone feel good about being helpful and contributing to the family, (5) foster a positive family attitude, and (6) instill skills in affirming, loyalty, appreciation and team cooperation.