I would like to share with you a simple principle that is powerful and yet often forgotten or neglected: A strong and radiant family is a family whose members have fun and know how to laugh together.
I want to highlight the spiritual gift of joy. Scripture tells us, “I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 8:15, ESV).
When the writer of Ecclesiastes refers to ‘the days of life under the sun’ in the Bible, he’s not talking about an all-inclusive vacation in the tropics. Joy should not be dependent on context or circumstances but rather a disposition of the heart. This is a pertinent biblical reminder — beyond our responsibility to work, to contribute to the needs of our family and to instill in them values and principles of life and faith — that we are called to spread joy and to nurture a beautiful atmosphere in our homes.
Unfortunately, joy is too often the missing ingredient in families that are too serious, too busy, too structured or too demanding.
Let me gently remind you of three things.
• Your family is not a military training camp. You are not a sergeant, and your children are not soldiers to be broken in.
• Your family is not a research lab either, and you are not scientists looking for the conclusive formula for a perfect family and children.
• Your family can and should take the essentials of God's life seriously without taking themselves too seriously.
I can tell you a timeless truth: there is no such thing as a perfect family! Our children are not perfect, and they never will be. The ultimate recipe for family perfection does not exist. So let's learn to laugh at our imperfections. Here are some good questions to ask yourself: Do you play together? Are you laughing together? Are you contributing to bringing and maintaining an atmosphere of joy in your home? One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. Our responsibility as adults is to learn for ourselves, and show our children, that the joy of the Lord is our strength.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.