Imagine the scene at Thanksgiving. You have the table set just perfectly. You have the adults’ table, and the kids’ table with everyone’s plates, cutlery, and origami folded napkins prepared for your family to enjoy a wonderful meal together. You have your spot for the turkey, your spot for the ham, and all the other fixings for your meal. You know exactly where everything goes to make your Thanksgiving experience optimal. Now picture something different: plates just tossed everywhere, no napkins, there is a fork here or there, and the spoons are actually dirty . . . oh, and the kids’ table has been completely forgotten. Is this a picture of Thanksgiving bliss, or a recipe for disaster? Any mother that saw this second scene would immediately rush to reset the table(s).
While most of us would like to think our homes function more like the hallmark picture that was painted first, the reality is, sometimes in our day to day family life we find ourselves at the second table and we just want to throw up our hands and throw in the towel. Life gets hectic. Children get disrespectful. It can seem like everything is just flipped upside-down. If this is the case in your home, as it is in mine at times, let me suggest something . . . it may be time to reset the table.
Resetting our Roles
Scripture clearly identifies the roles of all family members in the home. God is the supreme authority in any Christian home. Everyone must submit to Him and His Word. If things seem to be flipped upside-down in your home, chances are the Lord is not looked at as the supreme authority there. Next, we find the father is called to be the spiritual leader in the home. He is to be the head of the house (Ephesians 5:23). If things at home have gotten unruly, how is the father helping to straighten it up? Since he is the head, he must be involved in the fix. Next, we find the role of wife and mother. While she is to be submissive to her husband, she also has been given the responsibility to be the keeper of the home (Titus 2:4-5). In this role, she has authority over the children just as the father does. And when we come to the children, their role is to be submissive to both mom and dad as they submit to the Lord. This is the structure that the Lord expects in an orderly home. And if your family table has dirty and broken dishes lying around, chances are, the roles have been subverted in some way. It may be time for a reset.
Resetting our Responsibilities
Thinking through the roles in the home should allow us to see our responsibilities clearly. When a child expresses their desire to “not eat their vegetables” with a loud but silent eye role of disgust . . . they need to remember their role. A child is responsible to obey his or her father and mother (Ephesians 6:1). Their responsibility is to eat that vegetable out of honor and appreciation (Philippians 2:14). Their responsibility is not to offer an opinion (unless allowed by the parents), but to remember their role and respond appropriately. A mother has authority over the child and is to assist her husband in carrying out his responsibilities (Ephesians 5:22, Titus 2:4). A father is charged with teaching, encouraging, and disciplining his child as well as loving and leading his wife (Ephesians 5:25-29, Ephesians 6:1). In the home, everyone has responsibilities. When spaghetti starts flying, or voices get raised in disagreement, chances are the responsibilities have been tossed aside. This is when everything becomes a mess. It is time for a reset.
Resetting our Relationships
In many homes in America, the children rule the house. While they do not pay the mortgage, the car payment, provide food to eat, shelter, or clothing . . . many children think that the home revolves around them and their needs. And unfortunately, many parents allow this to happen. At first, it is innocent and can even seem funny when your 4-year old says, “Mommy, get me some milk” while playing with her toys. Yet, it isn’t nearly as funny, when your 16-year-old starts to tell you when and where they are going on Friday instead of asking permission to do so. It can be easy to let their schedules rule us. Many of us want them to be well-rounded and involved in a variety of things that stimulate personal growth. So, we run them from the ball field to piano practice. Then there are church functions and other school activities. We become slaves to their schedule. Then it happens. The children become the center of all that is done. The mother becomes the taxi driver. The father . . .the fan. The relationship that God designed for the good of the home has become a chaotic blur instead of a blessing. If this routine has distorted the relationships in your home, it may well be time for a reset.
Joel Beeke has said, “You are either the best or worst book that your children will ever read.” This is a profound statement. The way our children see us live out the truth of scriptures will either shape them for the good, or the bad. When we think about our homes, most of us, I imagine, want it to be a place of fond memories, love, and encouragement. But, to do this, there has to be order. If there is no order at dinner time, there can be no dinner time. Without order, there will be little fond memories, a lack of love, and frustration more than encouragement. Just like the dinner table, our homes need order. God has set the order for our homes. Husbands, love your wife well. Fathers, be active in the training of your children. Wives, respect and love your husbands. Mom, love your children enough to teach and require order. Children, obey and honor your parents. It is required by God. Children will be accountable to God for this.
The family table is a wonderful place. It is here where we can often see it as a metaphor for life in the home. So, if your family table looks like something that Joanna Gains has staged, that is a blessing. But don’t let it become an issue of pride. Praise the Lord for His blessings in it, but continue to pursue a godly home humbly. But, if it looks a little more like the dinner scene from the 1991 classic “Hook” movie, it may be time to start afresh and reset that table. The Lord has provided the way to do so. It may take some time and some work, but it will be well worth the effort.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell