Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Building Traditions

It is understandable that folks who have read any one of my three books on worship might conclude that I am anti-traditions. I'm not. In fact, I love traditions! I love family traditions, AND, I even love church family traditions, but what I don't like are traditions that become law and/or are elevated to a position higher than God's will (or made synonymous with God's will). In the family, they can and should be valuable tools to help build family togetherness. Traditions can be a wonderful tool for good or a selfish tool for destruction. A good contrast is Matthew 15:3-9, where Jesus condemns the traditions replacing God's will, and Luke 2:41-42 where Jesus' family honors the customs of God's people.
Here are some thoughts to remember about traditions in the family.

1. Traditions are for bonding not binding! (A good way to determine when a church traditions is good or bad too)

A. This is why some children grow up and limit family ties while others deepen them.

B. The difference between burden and bonding - duty vs. belonging?

C. Bonding is a sense of belonging and closeness.

D. Problem: the potential conflict between "freedom" and "belonging" since they are both powerful emotions that are also direct opposites.

E. Balance: keep it fun, meaningful, and loving (not laws).

2. Traditions should foster family values!

A. Togetherness - enjoy it, plan it, anticipate it!

B. Thankfulness - for each other, for memories, and every day together.

C. Christ Centered - Jesus is an official member of our family. (Eph.6:1-4)

3. Traditions are to be cherished not worshipped!

A. Cherish your uniqueness - our family chooses to do it this way!

B. Use the tool, don't let the tool use you! Focus on the principle or value you want to foster in your family.

C. Keep it simple, memorable, flexible, and doable! Things change, so must our traditions. Remember, it's the little things that count the most, and they will change with age and needs.

D. Warning: age appropriate traditions may not have anything to do with the number of years a child has lived. Their heart decides when they are "too old" for something that means a lot. Try having a Family Trivia Night where children can show how much they know about you and your family history. It's also a great way to teach it. Remember, some traditions are ageless and timeless - if they still bond the family together.

Conclusion: Don't just choose to get married and choose to have children. Choose what kind of family you will have. Use traditions to help build it.

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