- Elders take the advice of youth and vice versa: Position yourself as a teacher and a learner in your family. This will help you cultivate the skills necessary to model best practices.
- Listen to both sides of story before passing judgement: What's a family without a little drama? Don't fan the flames of discord by buying into one person's side of the story without listening to the other side. This includes making sure both sides are actually able to listen to one another.
- Allow every member have their 5 minutes of fame: Attention is so important. In this season, college students, family members who live in other parts of the country, grandparents, new spouses and step children will converge in an amazing array of combinations. At various points, people will need some attention. Make sure you PLAN for everyone to get their 5 minutes of fame so they don't have to demand it in anti-social ways.
- Be comfortable taking 3rd place: As a general rule, make it a point to play a supporting role. If there are other members of the family who are passionate about being out in front, let them have it, even if they want to fight for leadership. You focus on supporting whoever is taking the lead, from one moment to the next.
These best practices are going to benefit you, personally, socially and spiritually. Here are some ways for you to approach your spiritual discipline and personal development:
- Be flexible and you'll be fine: Some of the practices related to your role in strengthening the family will challenge you emotionally and even morally. But know that pain is obligatory but suffering is optional. The more your resist, evade or procrastinate, the more uncomfortable you'll be in the long run. Let things take their natural course. Let go of the need to know everything, to be right about everything and control the outcomes.
- Don't win the battle and lose the war: Compromise is key. Pick your battles wisely, in favor of the long term benefit.
- Friends will become family: Outside of your family, it will behoove you to also seek the support of your cohort, to invite them into your intimate space.
- Seek refuge in the hills: Look for and take advantage of the opportunity to get off the grid with your team. No cell phones. No internet. Just the essential team members, working on what's most important. Even if you only take 24 hours, the benefit will be considerable.
Looking forward, your contribution will shift the course of relationships. Recruit 3 other people who can remind you to focus on these practices over the next 2 or three months.
- Don't be fearful, apprehensive or hesitant: Nothing worth doing is easy. Face your fears. Analyze them. Dissect them. And then take them on directly.
- Make your words into prayers: What you say will either bring people closer or drive them away. When you feel most challenged, just openly invite people to join you in prayer on the subject at hand and then pray out load.
- Honor rank completely: Sometimes, we get too casual. Now is the time to set and keep proper boundaries. Those who are your underlings must be required to give you proper respect. Likewise, those who are your seniors must be given proper respect. Don't deviate.
- Judge without anger: Just the facts. Do not indulge in emotionalism, especially anger. If you're angry when the time comes to make decisions, take a break, walk away and then come back when cool heads prevail.