09.01.13

How’s The Family Doin’?

Have you been asked this question recently? I have. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question or how often I’ve heard it in passing. People ask the question so often that it makes you wonder if they’re being genuine, or if they’re thoughtlessly filling up dead air.

What’s interesting is most of the responses don’t really answer the question regarding the well-being of the family (“the how”). Instead the responses, most of the time, are mere lists of family activities (“the what”).  You know, responses like:

  • “Frank just got back from a missions trip in China and now is working on a MDiv.”
  • “Jean’s doin’ well! She just finished college and is moving on to do a Masters in Education.”
  • “Our oldest, William Jr., is doin’ good. He just got married and recently got promoted to General Manager.”
  • “Carol’s doin great. We will be leaving for vacation in a couple of weeks, and we both are really looking forward to it. But overall things are pretty good. The Lord is faithful.”

These answers are heavy on the “what” and very light on the “how”. I must confess I often answer the question much the same way.

Now I realize the “what” and “how” are closely connected. However, I sense that sometimes the “how” gets swallowed up in the “what” and is often defined by the “what”. So although these answers are giving some details of activities, they’ve not touched on the real condition of the family.

For example, Frank, encouraged by the missions trip, decided to enter into a life of missions. So he is now pursuing further studies to be better equipped.  The reason Jean is pursuing a Masters in education is because she wants to volunteer as a support person for homeschoolers. William Jr.’s promotion was timely because his mother in law was recently diagnosed with cancer and will need constant care. So his wife had to quit her job to care for her mother. This has immediately put a strain on their marriage. Carol is spent and after 20 years of ministry with her husband. She’s on the verge of burnout and is desperately in need of a respite.

So you see, Frank and Jean are encouraged about the prospect of future ministry, while William is in the middle of a crisis and Carol needs some time alone with her husband.

No doubt, there are many reasons we respond to this routine question this way. Maybe we think we really are answering the “how” question. Perhaps we feel responding with “what” is more suitable for the moment. Or could it be that we simply don’t think in terms of the “how” very often? Whatever the reasons, it is my hope that over several posts we can really talk about family.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not an expert on the family. My only credentials are I love my family and want to learn how to serve them better. I once asked a friend why he wrote a certain book. “Who is your target audience?” I asked him.

“I am,” he responded. He studied, researched and wrote the book because he needed to know the subject better.

That’s why I’m writing these posts. Not as an expert, but as a student seeking to know and love my family better. Therefore, these posts will be a conversation because, after all, that’s what happens on The Front Porch.

So from one student to another, how’s the family doin’? How are they really doin’?

This is part one in a series on family worship. See part two: “Family Reunion” 

Louis Love
Louis Love serves as the pastor of New Life Fellowship Church, which he planted in 1997. Joyfully married, Louis and his wife, Jamie, have three adult children and ten grandchildren.

C’mon Up!

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  • http://alearningwife.wordpress.com/ Jenn Robinson

    Thanks for this post! It helps me to learn how to converse in an appropriate way, so if Mary is looking forward to her vacation, I can ask her what she most desires from it. This may lead to finding out more of the ‘how’ and can inform me of how to best pray for / encourage that person!

    • Louis Love

      Hey Jenn:
      Thanks for coming on the porch. You are absolutely right, just a little kind inquiry will help us serve one another better.

      Come see us again on the porch, be blessed.

  • Vince

    Great and timely article. I don’t want to sound too myopic -but it seems as if the ‘how’ questions in my life have been glosed over recently. We…as saints…need to address the ‘how’ questions. I am a newlywed (2nd marriage) and it seems asif my wife and I are being hammered inside and out. We are both saints – but my wife is a newbie. It seems like her ex’s are trying to get her attention now that she is married AND a saint. My past insecuries are rising up in me as well. The world is trying it’s best (or worst) to force us into giving ‘soundbite’ answers in order for us to get to what pleases ‘me’ vs our family memebers and others. We want to avoid the truth even though it is what we need. I do hope the website might consider adding a ‘prayer request’ section for the family. We need some ‘sound’ prayers of importunity to be offered up these days for our true needs versus temporary and superficial patches that pacify our wants (ex – a brand spankin new tricked out car, more bling, etc…)

    • Louis Love

      Hey Vince, I will be praying for you, my brother. I’m trusting that you and the Mrs. are a part of a good Church with faithful brothers and sisters who will also pray for you diligently.

      Thanks for coming up on the porch.

      • Vince

        Hi Pastor Love,
        Things are getting better. Thank you for your prayers. Hmmm, I want to open up a ‘can of worms’ in regards to prayer. Should we ask for prayer from other saints who have a more ‘charismatic’ view of the word. In other words, would we be ‘adding fuel to the fire’ when we received answered prayer (supposedly) via our ‘name it, claim i’ saints?

        • Louis Love

          Hey Vince:
          Long time, my brother. Good to see you back on the Porch.

          Regarding prayer, God is sovereign, He is not manipulated or pressured by “name it, claim it” folks or praying all night folks or any other forms or fashions of prayer. He does what He does after the counsel of His perfect will and according to His pleasure, cf. ; .

          I sense you do not want to encourage bad theology, so just stick to the truth of God’s sovereignty over all things and I think you will be okay.

          Man, it’s good hearing from you.

          • Vince

            Thanks Pastor Love,
            I truly appreciate your wise counsel. It is better than a V8. I am shameless when it comes to my prayer request -but I don’t want to encourage those in bad theology when I telll them how God answered my prayers IF I also asked them to pray for me.

        • Vince

          Things are really bad! Please pray for my marriage – we are separated.

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