The Four P’s of Loving Our Families Well
Ah… family. We love these people, right? But how are we doing at showing it?
I confess sometimes the people I claim to love the best are the very same people I act crabbiest toward. And that’s not okay. The Bible says, “love is patient; love is kind.” That means the humans I love most (my family) ought to have the greatest claim on my patience and my kindness. How can we truly love our spouses and children in action?
Let’s explore four ways, or categories, in which we can recalibrate our selfish tendencies and remember to look outward, to bless the people around us, and to share God’s love in both thought and deed. I call these the four P’s of blessing others.
The Four P’s of Blessing Others
1. Presence. This simply means being available. Looking up from our tasks—the dishes, the deadlines, the phone—long enough to meet our loved ones in the eye, to hold a conversation, to pay attention when they’re talking and to show interest in their lives. And even if we can’t be physically present in the room, we can still bless people with our presence. Send a card or a gift package. Text a prayer. Hop on Google Meet and speak face to face. Making time to be present in our people’s lives is what creates a foundation of familiarity and trust. It’s the backbone of any relationship.
2. Possessions. This means our stuff—our money and other goods. It’s easy to say, “I don’t have a lot of stuff, I don’t have a lot of money, so I can’t bless people with my possessions.” But there’s this story in the Bible about a couple loaves and fishes that blows that argument to pieces. Jesus can make much from little. Our job is to offer up to God what little we have to offer, and HE makes our possessions grow.
How does this apply to our families? Well, next time my daughter asks to run through Starbucks, I’ll try not to imagine the five dollars floating out my window to pay for an overpriced frappe that she probably won’t even finish. I’ll try instead to see it as a way to show her I’m willing to enter into her world and delight her with small blessings that say, “Mom cares about me.”
And next time my husband suggests we invite his parents out for dinner, I’ll try not to calculate the cost of six entrees but instead embrace the chance to invest in these dear people who raised the love of my life and won’t be with us on earth indefinitely. Every chance we get to spend together is a memory to add to our arsenal.
Consider that giving our possessions is rarely about the possessions themselves. There is always a deeper need, a spiritual need. And God can do amazing things with our small offerings.
3. Perspective. This has to do with how we view people. Are we seeing our children as individuals created by God, with their own unique combinations of skills and personality and preferences? Or are we expecting them to be someone else, someone we imagined they should be—even if that’s not who God designed? Holding loved ones to the wrong standards can easily erode a relationship. Are we willing to see them as human beings that God created and treasures, in spite of our differences?
4. Prayer. No matter who you are, where you are, how rich or poor you are—one thing each and every one of us can do to bless others is to pray. Ask God to care for your spouse and children, to protect them, to help them through difficult situations. Lift up another person’s needs to the Lord, and you will have blessed them indeed—because prayer, more than any other of the four P’s of blessing, directly invokes the power of God. It says “YOU can do this, Lord. And I’m entrusting my loved one to you.”
If we keep these four P’s in our pockets and carry them with us throughout each day, we will develop a habit of loving our people in action. And that does more than just shore up our relationships. It actually shows the world the glory of God.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” (1 John 4:11-12)