Watching “Aha!” moments on the faces of husbands and wives as they start to “get it” about their marriage is one of the many reasons my husband and I love presenting marriage seminars. One area in particular deals with the essence of who your spouse really is and the tool we use to discover that is “The Flag Page.” We recently interviewed a couple where the wife came to tears, finally understanding her husband and why he did what he did. Those moments are priceless and rewarding.
While the Flag Page is web based and designed for adults and teenagers, a board game version was also designed to be used by younger children. I recently helped a mother and young son do his flag page and again the lights suddenly came on and there were “aha!” moments. This young man is very special. He is the baby of the family, the youngest of five children, yet born with strong leadership skills. That’s a tough job.
How does the baby of the family get affirmed for who God created him to be? How do parents hone those God given leadership skills while still maintaining loving parental control? It’s not an easy task. I know from experience because we have the same version in our family. Our youngest child is the one with natural leadership personality and skills and she’s a girl on top of that!
Did God make a mistake? Did he mess up when He decided to put these leadership qualities in the youngest children in these two families? I don’t have too many problems with the atmosphere, animal life, foliage and landscapes – except for any damage we’ve done to them; so I think God did a pretty good job. If He did it right on these big things, I’m sure He got it right on the small things as well, even down to putting leadership skills in the youngest child in a family – even if she is a girl!
Affirm people for who they are, for who God made them to be. I’m not talking about helping people continue in bad habits and choices because we’ve all got rough edges that need to be polished. I’m talking about the basics of personality, the essence of who God created them to be. Affirm that. Be intentional about affirming the peacemakers, the managers, the leaders, the artists, the make it happen folks and those who make sure everyone is included and accepted.
This mother and son, life is going to be different for them from this point on. Take the time to learn about those you interact with and help them be all God created them to be. The Bible calls it one of the spiritual gifts – the gift of exhortation, strongly encouraging someone to do what God has called them to do.
Confirmation. It’s a lovely thing to get. People look at you weird for what you are doing and for just a moment you begin to let those doubts creep in through those tiny little alleys of disbelief you left open. Then when you need it most, confirmation comes! It doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes you already know you are on the right track, but the confirmation is just an added bonus. No matter how it comes, confirmation is a treasure.
We have done the Flag Page Test on every member of our family. After realizing that (out of the top two “countries” you could be assigned to) four out of the five of us totally love fun country. Let’s hear it for fun country! So what do you do with this information? My husband started a Friday night tradition, joke night. Friday night was already special, reserved for my famous beans and for many around the world – the beginning of the blessed peace of Sabbath rest. To this we added joke night. Each family member gets a turn at choosing the topic and all the jokes have to align with that.
Musical terms come up a lot as topics, as do things around the house that are in sight and inspirations from the activities of the day. We thought we had a terrible topic one night – porcupine, but amazingly it was one of our most creative. Example, what did the girl porcupine say to the boy porcupine when he picked her up for a date? Wow, you look sharp tonight. The running joke in the family is the “factory joke.” Somehow no matter what the topic is, there is always a joke based on a factory. You don’t really want to know.
So what does this have to do with confirmation? My husband was doing his usual surfing various pastoral ministry sites that he visits often and he found an article about the importance of bonding time in pastoral families, and especially humor. Thousands of pastors leave the ministry each year because the burden becomes so much. This goes across the board in just about any denomination. The impact of ministry burdens on pastoral families, as you can imagine, is enough to make some kids grow up and never step foot in a church again. If you haven’t thanked your pastor lately for all the things he/she does, many of which can’t be talked about because they were spoken in confidence, take the time to do so. Pastor Appreciation Month is coming up in October. You could start planning now. It just might be the lift your pastor needs during a difficult moment.
So as Karl read to me the data on the importance of pastoral families sharing fun times together, I was grateful we had our new joke night tradition each Friday. Special family traditions aren’t limited to pastoral families. I’m pretty sure nearly every family can benefit from more moments of quality time spent together in a fun and memorable manner.
How are you bonding with your family? How are you forging memorable connections that will keep those kids coming back each Christmas for years? I hope it makes you smile.