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”