This article is part 3 of 3 subtopics from the “Lifelong Learning Assessment on Marriage

The Function of the Family

Concrete Experience

From the moment my wife and I returned from our honeymoon and were handed the high school ministry at our church, ministry has always been a focal point within our family. God was always the center of our relationship, therefore serving Him and giving back has always been a driving motivator in our lives. After a couple years, kids began to enter the picture and our approach towards ministry began to change. At first the changes were subtle, but as a new child entered the picture, and as each began to grow into the unique individuals that they are, the choice to do ministry was not as simple.

Our kids were growing up so fast, and although we never wanted to a miss a moment, it was clear that we couldn’t be both fully present in ministry and our children’s lives at all times. At times our kids were praying for the needs of the hurting all around us, as they asked God to feed the people they saw on the street, or to find a home for the kids that were in the foster care system. Then there were moments where they cried for attention, not wanting to wake up early for church, or spend quality family time not at home together. The struggle to balance family and ministry was and is a difficult task with no clear instruction.


At first I didn’t realize how my pace towards ministry changed when I got married. Andrea and I were both so motivated to serve wherever God had us, we genuinely believed that our marriage would enables us to do more than we ever could have done alone. As we became parents both of our perspectives were challenged, our hearts to love our students and to love our children were being defined for the first time. It was never a question that we loved the people in our lives, but how do you ensure that those people know you love them?

Although ministry was a focal point within our marriage, what would be its place within our family? Furthermore, what would be the purpose of our household? As parents you quickly learn to embrace the responsibility of survival; that we will provide and protect our children to the best of our abilities. But more than keeping them alive into their adulthood, we begin to consider how we would raise them to be mature individuals, godly men and women, and possible influential leaders of their generation. Unfortunately, parents cannot force family values into the hearts of their children, but by building pillars of character into them you can impact the world in a way that cannot be accomplished in the absence of a family.

Abstract Generalizations

The function of the family relies so much on God’s teaching to each individual: “husbands love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25), “wives submit to your husbands” (5:22), “children obey your parents” (6:1), “fathers, do not provoke your children to anger” (6:4). These instructions are true because they identify deeply rooted aspects of our rebellious nature that God understands about us regardless of our belief in Him. For example, the instruction for husbands and wives is one of “Love and Respect,” and Dr. Emerson Eggerichs clearly portrays this interdependency between the husband and wife through what he calls “The Crazy Cycle” (2005, Emerson). This cycle is observed when a wife disrespects her husband in some way which leads him to be unloving to her, in response she again shows him disrespect and the cycle continues until one of the two heeds the instruction of God’s word, “each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33, NIV).

To be a husband and father is a choice to enlist in God’s design, “joining God in the creation of new life and training them in the fear of the Lord is spiritual warfare” (Watters, 2014). As the head of the household (1 Corinthians 11:3), husbands are to provide vision and maintain perspective that will direct and keep the family unit operating as one. As a husband surrenders his will to God’s authority, and his wife respects his leadership, she then demonstrates obedience for her children to participate in.

Scientifically, this divine structure is sound. As acclaimed psychologist Dr. Gottman points out in his counseling of marriage and family, a fundamental principle of relationships is “influence;” allowing yourself to be affected by others (Lisitsa, 2012). All relationships have the potential for influence, and rightfully so we must be on guard against toxic influences (1 Corinthians 15:33), but the family structure provides a framework of trust that bypasses all defenses one could put around their heart.


As we embraced the changing seasons of life, we learned to welcome our roles. Our balance for ministry and family was no longer a task to complete or some mark of achievement; rather it was a barometer to maintain perspective. As a husband first, does my wife feel that I love her and do I know she respects me? As parents, ensuring to always love our children first, we made every effort to communicate to them that our love and our understanding of the concept comes from God’s demonstration of it.

From these foundational, family first perspectives we could function as a family outside of our own household. Just as God’s love could not be contained, my family can now see how my love for them is not reserved or favored to one another. Likewise, our family’s love for one another is not kept isolated to ourselves, but as family we go to meet the needs of those in our community; extending the patience, grace, and love that we practice in our home.

A family, no matter the size or stature, should represent the human pursuit of unity. Not absorbing and embodying one singular personality, but building one another up in such a way to produce the best of each individual. The process of family teaches us to put aside our innate selfishness and to support one another through an unchosen bond of trust and loyalty. It is unfortunate in our day and age that too often this establishment is abandon; not only for the family involved, but the community they inhabit.

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Lifelong Learning Assessment on Marriage