Ethics & Religion
October 5, 2016
(second of two-part series)
Guard Your Heart - II - Family & Friends
By Mike McManus
does it take to be a good friend? This is harder for men than for
women who always seem to have several close friends. Men tend to focus
on work and family, but Rev. John Yates learned the value of have a
weekly breakfast with two men.
"Our only agenda was breakfast and talk. They were cheerleaders, but
would tell me if I was going in the wrong direction. Intimate friends
protect each other." However, such friendships do not just happen. "You
have to be the initiator."
Men devote huge amounts of time to work and many acquaintances. However,
a married person's top priority is one's spouse, who tends to get
ignored in the rush of life. Therefore, John and Susan Yates go on a
Date Night once a week.
They also built in "family time," one night a week where they did
something fun with the kids, such as decorating paper plates. They also
had family dinner together each evening, giving everyone chance to share
and have fun.
A son's best friend experienced his dad walking out on the family.
Therefore, John and his son went to their house, spending many hours
with the distraught mother and children. They prayed for one another.
How do you stay on top of your work and your family at the same time?
The Yates began a late summer/early fall ritual that made a big
difference. As the new season got underway, they set aside "couple time"
to discuss each of their five children in five areas of growth:
emotional, spiritual, physical, mental and social. "We named the child
and asked God to reveal to us their needs in each area," Susan stated.
They asked themselves questions like:
Social: Does this child need a special friend, or to reach out
to others? Does a teen need to be in a youth group ministry? Does
the child need more discipline in schoolwork?
Emotional: Does this child need more time from one of us?
Physical: Does a child need better eating habits or to get more
Chris, a son, fell head first on a cement floor and
fractured his skull. "We were in the hospital for two weeks and it
was scary," Susan recalled.
regained consciousness, they read Romans 8:28: ("For God causes all
things to work together for those who love him."). Then they asked him
if there was any way that he could see that God had used this for good?
He replied, "Mom, I never knew I was so special before."
Susan looked at each other with tears in their eyes, realizing that God
answers the private prayers of parents.
When the kids were in
high school and college, they held a "Needs and Goals Time" with
everyone in the family. "Of course, they groaned when we mentioned it's
Needs and Goals time," Susan commented.
However, that became a
way for everyone to keep up to date with one another, and of praying for
one another in the family. Today, John and Susan ask each of their five
"kids" to "give us updates" for each of their 21 grandchildren! "This
enables us to pray more specifically for each of them!"
was 8, his older brother, aged 18, wrote him a letter, which began,
"Didn't we have a great time at the ball game?" Then he added, "Brother,
I want you to know you are the greatest little brother a guy could have!
If something is bothering you, please tell me, and we will seek God's
Recently, the older brother wrote a letter to Susan,
praising John, his younger brother, who is now 70! Family ties are
important - particularly if we nurture them, and pray for one another.
That same brother and his wife recently visited John and Susan for
several days. After breakfast one morning, they read Scripture and
looked back on their lives, asking each other, "What do you remember
about God's faithfulness?" John recalled, "I learned things I did not
Four factors threaten family life. Parents are typically
not spending enough time with children individually. John began having
"Pancake Breakfasts" with one child.
Secondly, parents tend to
take kids to one event after another, but rarely sit down as a family.
Daily family dinners are important.
We need to parent intentionally, and not just react. Pray for each
family member on a regular basis.
Finally, have fun as a family. Alphonso, a rubber alligator, would hide
in the dishwasher!
They add, "Write a letter to parents or family members and thank them
for what they did right."
Copyright (c) 2016 Michel J. McManus,
President of Marriage Savers and a syndicated columnist. For previous
columns go to
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