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Fred commented: “Parenting changes from managerial to relational as the family grows older.” Later on, he remarked, “I have moved from being an authority figure to a consultant with my children.” He enjoyed that role. As an executive, he had difficulty leaving his management style at the office, but he tried. Especially as he aged, he appreciated the value of relationship for its sake alone. This week’s thought is unusual – it is a letter written from Fred to Howard E. Butt, a life-long friend.

Dear Howard

Howard – I’m beginning to see the family in a very different light. The family’s primary function is a relationship to create loving relations and secondarily a production unit for developing mature individuals. It is different from the plant, where production is primary and relation is secondary. One hopes, and I believe it is possible, to have both functions running together smoothly, each complementing the other. However, until we understand which is primary and which is secondary, we are not able to make a good, objective decision when one conflicts with the other.
Howard, you can’t believe what is happening as I’m writing these words to you. Mary Alice is knocking on the door, wanting to know if I want to go to McDonald’s with Brenda, Mary Helen, and our four grandchildren. I believe the Lord is testing me as to my sincerity, for you know that isn’t exactly what I want to do right now. Yet, if I’m going to change according to my new knowledge, I must take leave of you and finish the letter when I get back.

* * *

(After an hour or so) Now, Howard, concerning the family, it would be great if I could tell you that now I have learned this new truth I am thrilled, and excited every time I practice it. That’s not so. There I sat with my wife, daughters, and grand-children, doing my best to be relational when I was still thinking about the production I wasn’t getting out. However, I did it and I’m glad I did, but I have to be honest that the good feelings haven’t quite arrived. I think maybe it is just evident of our juvenile belief that whenever we do good, we ought to feel good. If doing good made us feel good, then the devil sure would have a poor opportunity… his power would be less than nothing. The fact is, a great deal of the time doing good is unpleasant, but still it’s right.

However, honestly I am beginning to have moment of deep satisfaction putting relationships before production. I know it is the right way to go.

Bless, Fred

(An editorial note: Fred never stopped working on being “relational,” as he liked to put it. And, the family would attest to his valiant spirit.)

This week think about: 1) How do I view my role in the family? 2) What am I doing because it’s right and not for the immediate reward? 3) Who teaches me about family relationships?

Words of Wisdom: “The fact is, a great deal of the time doing good is unpleasant, but still it’s right.”

Wisdom from the Word: “So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9 NET Bible)

News Line: ••• 4/15/14; Can you “connect the dots”? Find out where the “formula” falls apart in Brenda A. Smith’s new blog. Click here to read more.

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