How to make the family succeed as a team         


IN my last article in Weekender, I shared with you some tips on how to become an effective member of a team.
The team can be a sports team, a cohort of students in school preparing for exams, or a team in a new business venture.
The success of a team depends on how effective each individual team member plays their role.
In other words, the success of a good team depends on the success of each member in the team, as illustrated by Paul in 2 Corinthians, who talked about members of a church or congregation and how they should work together as a body.
I thought it is important to specifically talk about the family as a team in this article because that unit is a very important part of our society.

The family as a team
In my last article, I mentioned the moment where I was among a cohort of awardees of the prestigious Australia Awards Scholarships in 2019 and listening to a session where awardees were informed about the laws in Australia.
In one of the sessions the awardees were informed that a domestic issue where there is a lot of screaming and noise in a house can have neighbours calling the police to come and investigate.
That talk led to other issues, including spouses who are irresponsible and abusive, as is the case in many homes today.
As I was sitting and listening to the talk then, with contributions from other awardees, the thought that came to my mind was: If parents approach a family as a coach and manager work with a soccer team, there would be less of the domestic issues that we observe around us.

What is the goal of the family?
If we are to compare the family as a team, the family must also have a common goal, in the same way that a football team has one.
So, if you are a married couple, what is your common goal?
Why did you get married?
Have you thought about that?
This question really should be asked even before a couple decides to head towards matrimony.
Sure, there is the romance, the sex and the friendship, and memorable times.
But what is the goal of the family, and that includes the children who will enter the home of the couple who got married?
Is it to have children like everyone else is doing, or is there something more?
As you can see, most people who get married do not have a goal for the family. They do it because everyone else is doing it. It is the norm.
Now, do you realise that some arranged marriages are made to strengthen the ties between two business families, so their enterprises can reach other heights?
You can see that in older economies, as those in Europe or Asia.
Even a member of a royal family in England can only marry a member of another royal family, as one from another country, like Sweden or France.
Do you notice that in our traditional PNG cultures, certain marriages are arranged to strengthen the ties between families?
In a number of ethnic groups in the Sepik region, a girl may be sent off to her father’s mother’s clan to marry a man there to ensure her father’s bloodline continues in his mother’s clan.
So, the goal of a marriage in some cases may be more to strengthen ties between tribes or royalties. Romance may not be part of the reason why a man and woman become one in such situations.

The family as a foundational institute in Christianity
The family is a foundational institute in many cultures, as well as in religions, as in Judaism and Christianity.
It is from the family that the basic building block of an impact team, which may influence a nation or the world in a positive way, is started.
Do you realise that when Jesus chose the 12 men who will be his closest followers, two of them were the children of Mary Salome, who was a sister of his mother’s?
When David became king, he chose his nephews to be his military commanders.
When Joseph became the chief administrator of Egypt, he took care of his father and his brothers and their families, and in doing so helped the future nation of Israel survive.
So, in Christianity, the family is a prized team in the eyes of God.
They are important.

Bible teaching on how members should interact
What I am sharing here came from my many Sunday school lessons over the decades, where pastors and church teachers taught us about the family and where in the Bible such lessons can be found.
Before turning to the New Testament, note that the members of the family are the father/husband and mother/wife, and children, when they are born.
How well the family will function will depend on how well each member of the family performs their roles, or the kind of attitude they display.
The book of Ephesians, in the New Testament, has some verses that talk about the family, and how family members should interact with one another.
In chapter 5 of Ephesians, Paul starts talking about some bad ways that people have, and then in verses 22 and 23, he makes it clear that wives must submit themselves unto their husbands, as unto the Lord. Also, “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church”.
The husband is the head of the wife?
Yes, that is the Bible model.
But mind you, as Bible teachers would tell you, to be the head does not mean he is the boss, or dictator, or more important. It means his decisions about family matters must be respected.
However, if his decision is not in the best interest of the family, and may not glorify God, then the wife should remind him that they all should submit to God, who always desires the best for the family.
Yes, she can stand up against bad decisions.
The unwise decision of a husband can and must be set right by consulting God’s Word and heaven’s interest. The Lord comes first, even before the husband.
So, the teaching is, the wife must submit to the husband, and both wife and husband must submit to the Lord.
There is another important point in Ephesians 5 too, and that is “husbands must love their wives”, and that is emphasised in verses 25, 28 and 29.
The husband is urged to love his wife even as he loves himself, so teaches verse 28.
A husband who is bossy and does not respect his wife is not following God’s commands, in the same way that a wife is disrespectful and does not submit to her husband.
As you can see, the Bible has laid down the basic rules on the family 2000 years ago, and, in my view, it is simple enough.
Our problem nowadays is people do not listen to God’s Word and do not want to submit to it, hence there are too many domestic issues, and many involve violence too.

Now, the Bible talks about the children
How children should interact with their parents is already described by the Book.
In Ephesians 6, verse 1, the Bible states: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
A child that does not obey their parents is a disobedient child.
However, as in the case of a husband who is unwise and challenged by a wife to take the right path, children can challenge their parents in a “civilized way”, if they think they have found the right way, or better way, to do things.
Decades ago, as I was coming out of my teens, I decided to leave the church my parents raised me in because I realised that they were not teaching people properly.
Some important Bible doctrines, as I saw it, were not taught properly by that mainline church.
I decided to follow a smaller denomination which I thought was correctly interpreting the Book and sharing it with people. (If this article is of any help to you, then you must thank the Independent Baptist Churches and the work they have done for decades in this nation.
They are strict but they will properly teach the Book. Because of their teachings, I stopped taking alcohol and cigarettes when I was 19 years of age.)
Yes, children can, on conviction, choose a different path in life, but they must do so in a “civilised manner”, without using violence or threats.
There is an interesting thing I want to mention here too: The child who obeys parents, who generally follow the Lord, will be blessed.
The promise in verse 3 of Ephesians 6 is: “… it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth.”
Christian teachers often talk about the promise that comes with honouring or obeying parents. That is the one in verse 3.
That also means, disobedient children will not be blessed.

The home must have rules
Here is another important tip that I often give young people.
Whenever you have your own home, you must draw up your own set of rules to guide and guard everyone in your home.
Those are other rules, apart from God’s commands.
Your home is your home, so make it look like you value it.
When I was in charge of my own house, as a teacher, I had rules like:

  • No alcohol is to be brought into my house
  • No cigarettes should be smoked here
  • No foul language should be used
  • People should not go drinking and come to my house
  • Everyone should be home before 10 pm
  • And so on.

These are simple things, but most people do not do this.
Remember, your home environment must be protected so that everyone in there, including your spouse and children, must feel safe and have good meals and rest their heads in peace, to go out and do what they are supposed to do the next day.
My late step-mother, a Papuan woman, also had her set of rules, long before I came to know her.
One of them is the ban on alcohol use on her premises.
In that sense, she was an outstanding homemaker and parent.

Last words: And the common goal
I have presented to you the family, as viewed from the Christian perspective.
I think it is simple and practical, and I have seen many Christian families thrive on keeping with those basic principles.
A family can be viewed as a team, with members who have roles to play.
Do you also realise that many of our successes in life started because we learned many things or attitudes from our family, before we formally learned concepts in different areas of life?
I am of the view that the common goal in a Christian family is to honour God.
A couple will fall in love, have sweet romance and then go on to start a family.
The husband will love the wife, and the wife will respect and submit to the husband.
The children will grow up and respect and obey their parents.
Their parents will also discipline their children.
And their parents will provide for them so that they will go on to add value to their church and the world, and then repeat the cycle, as started by their parents.
That I think is the Christian model and is the best.
What do you think?

Next article: You as an achiever among other people