All in the Family
by Deb DeArmond
“Tact is the act of making a point, without making an enemy.” –Isaac Newton
Seems Newton wasn’t just a gravity genius. He apparently was a relationship guru as well. Must have come from a big family.
I was raised as an only child; my brother was 16 years older. It was a big gap; we grew close only after I grew up. But as a child, I had my folks all to myself. I never needed to call “shotgun” for the front seat, nor to split the last cookie with a sibling. Never knew the heartbreak that comes from hearing, “it’s not your turn today.”
Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it? I won’t lie—it was a great life. But it turns out, there was a dark side.
I hadn’t learned to share. Or at least to share graciously.
I eventually developed the ability, but it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t overnight. I wonder how I ever avoided being pushed out, pushed down or simply outcast. Looking back, I’m grateful it hadn’t gone that way.
So now as an adult, I watch as we all struggle with the urge to “have it our way” even in our most important relationships: our marriages, with family members—kids, in-laws, even grandparents. It’s hard not to campaign for the thing you want. And Christmas seems to turn up that fire. It’s tough to set aside your own preference without getting sulky and sullen.
But it’s also not okay to simply let the loudest voice lead.
How do we do it? How do we find a way to have candid discussions without damaging the people we love?
Effective communication skills coupled with the Word of God is a foundation that will stand every time. Here are two Spirit-led reminders, designed to help us walk in love.
Prefer one another. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another,” Romans 12:10 (NKJV). Putting the interests of another first is counter-intuitive to the flesh. Preferring others will always cause people to sit up and take notice, because it’s not how the world does things, so it serves a dual purpose, as it draws attention to our great God.
Love does not seek its own way. It’s not Burger King, friend. Set your preference aside this Christmas and really listen. Be willing to be changed by what you hear and remember that the way you say what you say matters. Volume does not equal leadership.
Don’t forget—tact counts. You don’t want to end up on the naughty list, now do you??