You’ve seen them — The in-focus smiles and blurred background. Kids running through tall grass in an open field. The group of adults standing in the backyard, having a great time under a pergola.
Looks so good.
If mom blogs and vimeo pages were all we had to go off, we may begin to develop a romantic idea of how a missional family should look.
I’ve definitely gone there. And as one trying to lead a missional family, I have mistaken my idea of missional family for what it actually is.
You’ll put a fork in your eye
Living life with others will drive you insane. And not in a everyone’s-got-issues kind of way. Real people cause real conflict. You’ll get hurt, pissed off, and annoyed when you enter into a familial bond with another human being.
If you don’t accept that now, you’ll quit.
This is up there on the “Most important thing for Community Group leaders and members to know” list.
The fork > isolation
Alex and I learned about commitment and forbearance early in our relationship. Although we may have been naive, we were committed to stick things out. It wasn’t long before our battle motto was “I love you but I need some space to cool off” (let your imagination create the tone on that one).
It goes similarly with our missional family. We’re not perfect (far from it). We don’t live up to our church’s core values. We can get on each other’s nerves. We’re not always good at “honest” conversation. And I tend to have more “off” days than “on.”
But sticking together through it is better than the alternative.
Seriously, buckle up
When you spend a lot of time in the ministry world, you begin to hear a lot about boundaries. Get hurt a few times in the church and you’ll be told it’s time to distance yourself from that relationship. Why subject yourself to repeat offenses?
Jesus and his disciples spent three years doing life together — traveling, eating, sleeping, ministering. They were, for sure, a mixed bag of gents. You had the fiery conservative, illiterate fishermen, a guy who wanted to overthrow the government, and a teenager (to name a few). I’d venture to bargain they had a decent amount of brawls.
In fact, at the end of his rope, Peter asked Jesus how long he’d have to put up with these guys.
“Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?'” (Matthew 18:21).
Now, Peter ought to be a grand example to all of us. He was prepared to deal with (forgive, even!) John’s annoying habits and personal offenses seven times! That’s at least 6 times more than most. But in Jesus’ kingdom, even seven times isn’t enough.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”
Just resolve to do it
Eliminate the possibility of holding grudges. It’s just not an option in this family. Is there anyone more entitled to walking away from those who sin against him (on both sides of the fence) than Jesus? Yet he doesn’t walk away. He lavishes his grace on you and then takes the blow again. He loves you. That’s how that looks.
Be like Jesus.