We used to call the family discussions, “Come to Jesus meetings.” I can’t say that we always looked forward to these times, but we were grateful that those times took place. These meetings were different from our discussions around the dinner table or conversations in the car. The topics didn’t pertain to the daily activities and issues. Our “Come to Jesus meetings” meant that we needed to have a significant discussion and the whole family needed to be present and involved.
Every person is a significant percentage of the family. When one family member is not functioning well, the whole family is affected. Every family faces times when a significant change is going to occur that will affect every member in some way. Some decisions are made by the parents and need to be accepted by the children. Other decisions are for the entire family to debate, discuss, and negotiate. There are also times when a family member needs to be confronted with a behavior or weakness and the rest of the family must hold them accountable.
These family times are crucial to the health and wellbeing of everyone and will impact the family dynamic long after kids are grown and gone. It is important for parents to decide when and how to have these meetings, and it is important that the kids realize they are allowed to “call” these meetings as well. Sometimes kids need a chance to hold their parents accountable as well.
I wish I had done a better job at that. Our boys probably wish they had been given a greater say in some of the decisions that were made. As parents, we have to make choices that our kids must learn to accept, so we should try to allow them the chance to make as many of the other choices as possible. Children should never feel like they can control the family but neither should they feel like their opinions and ideas are irrelevant.
The Bible offers some great advice for these family discussions. The next time your family needs to have a “Come to Jesus meeting,” these principles can help to guide that discussion:
Ephesians 6:1–4: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Children need to learn to honor their parents, even when they don’t agree or feel angry. Parents need to know the difference between reacting or punishing in anger and disciplining for the purpose of instruction. This verse simply says that every person in the family should respect and value one another. The key to the verse above is found in the last four words. Each person needs the “instruction of the Lord” to guide the discussion. Pray before these family meetings and ask the Lord to have a seat in the room. Put a Bible on the table in front of everyone and explain that God’s word needs to have the final say.
James 4:6: But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Have family members check their attitudes. If pride is controlling the discussion, it will quickly turn into an argument. Humility invites the grace of God and the solution is usually found when being right is less important than doing the right thing.
Ephesians 4:32: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Basic kindness goes a long way toward guiding these conversations to a good conclusion. Don’t allow anyone in the family to treat another member unkindly. Every member of the family should hold the others accountable—requiring kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness, knowing that Jesus has given us that example.
Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Help everyone to understand that the reason family discussions are important is because of the example God set for his children. The purpose of the discussion is to find resolution and restoration for the family. That means everyone must reason together—with God and with one another.
Family discussions like this are crucial. These times aren’t to be about someone, they need to be with everyone. The family is made up of individuals who each contribute to the whole, more important family unit. Call the meetings and require everyone to be present. Pray and ask God to guide the time and promise to honor him and each other during the time. Be honest, respectful, kind, and forgiving. But help every person to know that the purpose of the meeting is found in these verses:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9–10)
We want to raise kids who will know God and live lives that please him. We want our kids and our families to be blessed by God. So call the meetings and allow God to run those meetings. Family is forever. In fact, we want our families to be eternal.