Family in Focus
Family in Focus: Contentment or Insanity
By Danny Elliott
We live in a small house with five children, all schooled at home. We live in a different country surrounded by others who speak a different language. I work from home. This sounds like the beginning of a made-for-television movie, doesn’t it? But this is our reality. It is the type of situation that would make most people want to run away screaming.
Please don’t think I am suggesting we are somehow stronger or better than other people. We are not. So, how do we do it and maintain sanity? (I really need to know.) In all seriousness, we choose to be content with our situation. In Philippians 4:11, Paul set the example for his readers, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Even though Paul was referring to his financial situation, the principle applies to every life situation.
To be content means one is satisfied and happy with the way things are, no matter how things are. Yes, it is a result of trusting God, but it is also a choice. How do we make that choice? It boils down to having the right family focus.
Focus on Christ. Without a focus on Christ, nothing else makes sense (or even matters). As a Christian family, we make every effort to make Christ the focus of everything we say and do. Since our lives should bring glory and honor to Him, we want to reflect Him to others.
Does this mean we never argue? Or never do or say anything without thinking, “What would Jesus do?” Of course not! We are a real family with real life problems. We don’t always focus on Christ together as we should, but this is a goal we revisit regularly. By making an effort to keep our focus on Christ, we are able to deal with real life problems in a much better way, which helps us to be content with our life situation. We constantly remind ourselves that it is all about Him.
Focus on our purpose. We are in a unique situation as church planters with Free Will Baptist North American Ministries. We firmly believe God has called us to live in Québec, Canada, to tell others about Jesus and to plant a Free Will Baptist church. As we consider our living situation, we can be content, because we know we are doing what God wants us to do.
We prayed extensively about where we needed to live, how we should educate our children, and how to go about the work of planting a church here. God has directed us in each of these matters, so we can be content with our life situation when we focus on our God-given purpose.
Focus on each other. This might sound unspiritual, but it is an important element that leads to contentedness. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul instructed the Philippian believers, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Yes, we have an authority structure in place; and no, the children are not at the top of it. We strive as a family to look at each other as special creations in the eyes of God. We try hard to be selfless. Of course, we are all selfish by nature, but that is no excuse. We need to keep selfishness in check with the power and help of the Holy Spirit. It all goes back to the first focus on Christ.
Whatever your family situation might be, by keeping the right focus you can choose contentedness. The alternative is not so attractive. After all, no family wants to be labeled as, “That crazy family that lives down the street.”
About the Writer: Danny and Dawn Elliott and their five children are planting a Free Will Baptist church in Quebec, Canada. For more information, visit www.fwbnam.com.