Jimmy Evans - How to Build an Honest Family
So what I want to talk about is being an honest family. And for every family member being able to communicate, because when you cannot communicate, you can't know each other. It's impossible to know a person you can't communicate with. How do you know a person? How do you gain intimacy in your relationships if you can't talk? The other thing is how can you resolve conflict? It's inevitable. In every marriage, in every family, there are issues. You know, you get on each other's nerves. You say and do things that hurts another person. You have to be able to resolve those things, or they just accumulate, and the other thing is you assume things that aren't true.
You know, if you're not able to talk... the devil's called the accuser of the brethren. He's always trying to divide our relationships. He's always trying to interpret other people's behavior to us. When I can't walk up to you and say, "Hey, you know, I've been thinking this. Is this true or not true? 'cause I'm not sure". And you say to me, "Oh, that's not true". I say, "Well, thank you". Now I have the truth. If I can't walk up to you and say that, I have to assume things, and that's what the devil loves. The devil loves for us not to be able to communicate, so that we build, you know, just dysfunctional relationships and aren't able to resolve the issues between us. But when we are able to talk, we know each other intimately. We know each other, because we're talking about deeper things. We're able to resolve conflict, and we're able to keep the devil out of our relationship.
So the question becomes, how do you build an honest family?
I'm gonna talk about 3 steps in building an honest family, and the first is you're an honest person. You become an honest person. An honest family is built around honest individuals, and the parents are critical in this. The parent sets the example of being honest. Let me talk for just a minute about being an honest person. This is Psalm 15. Here's what Psalm 15 says. "Lord, who may abide in your tabernacle, and who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly and works righteousness and speaks the truth in his heart".
Now let me say this about God. Intimacy with God requires an honest heart, and the Psalm, the Psalmist here is asking a question. "Lord, who can come into your presence"? And then he answers the question. "You have to speak truth in your heart. You have to have an honest heart". Well, the truth is there are people that don't speak truth in their heart. I didn't before I got saved. In fact, I didn't for years into our marriage. I did not speak truth into our hearts.
So let me talk for just a minute. Now I want you to test yourself if you would, being honest with yourself. I wanna talk about what makes an honest heart. If we're gonna have an honest family, then we're gonna be honest people, especially the adults now. We're gonna set the example to our children of being honest people.
Let me talk about several things that make an honest heart.
First of all, an honest heart is a teachable heart, ok? It's approachable. I want you to test yourself on this. The Bible says if you correct a wise man, he will love you, but if you correct a fool, he'll hate you. How you respond to correction tells you how teachable you are. A wise person loves to be corrected. Doesn't mean they want to be disrespected or talked down to. But, see, if you're doing something wrong and a person walks up to you and says, "Hey, that's wrong. You need to correct that", a wise person says, "Thank you so much. Gosh, I don't want to do that wrong. You know, I don't want to live the rest of my life doing that wrong. Thank you so much". A fool says, "Don't ever talk to me like that again. I know what I'm doing". And they're real defensive. Are you defensive? Do you have a chip on your shoulder? Do you think you know it all? Or are you approachable? Do you have a teachable spirit? Because a teachable spirit precedes success in every area of life. A teachable spirit means I want more information, and if I'm doing it wrong, I don't want to do it wrong anymore.
Number 2 thing that makes an honest heart, an honest heart is a humble and submitted heart. I know I'm not the boss. I know I'm not, the universe doesn't revolve around me. I know I'm not the boss, and so there's no control issue here. You know, how many of you believe that God controls the universe? Ok, that means I don't. Let me say it another way? How many of you believe, when it's all said and done, it's all about God, right? That means it's not about me. But there are people who believe the universe revolves around them and it's all about them, and they're not humble, and they're not submitted, and they're impossible to talk to. When you believe that everything revolves around you and that you're in control, you can't have a relationship with a person like that.
And all of us have someone like that in our families. And I'm thinking of a person right now in our family, not our children or, you know, people, immediate family, but there's a person in our family that is absolutely, totally in control at all times, and there's been several times that I've had close interaction with this person because of a problem in our family. Again, this is, you know, extended family. And every time I've said something to this person that disagreed with what they thought, they literally shouted me down. And I would be saying to them, this was a real problem going on in our family, and I was, you know, I don't have to interact with this person very often, so I had to interact with them because of what was going on, and I began talking with them, and when I began to say something, and it was the truth, lovingly.
I was being very loving, very kind, and I was saying truth. Literally when I started saying it, they said, "Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait"! Literally shouted me down. And I thought to myself, and I wouldn't say this to that person, "Why don't you be quiet and listen"? That's the way you feel when you're around that kind of a person. "Why can't you just listen to somebody? Why do you have to be in control? Who do you think you are"? God. They think everything revolves around them. So are you humble and submitted, and do you understand it's not about you? I mean, the world, and you're not in control. I'm not. I used to think that, though.
The third thing that makes an honest heart is a heart that understands the love and grace of God, and that is truth is my friend. truth is not my enemy. The truth will always help me. The truth will never hurt me. A person may be hurtful, but not God. See, I used to be afraid of the truth. I thought it was all about me, and I was completely unapproachable, and we were on the brink of divorce. As a father and as a husband, everything I said here, I did the opposite, and Karen could not talk to me. In fact, the night that we almost separated was a night that I had come home from playing golf. I golfed all the time. I was a golfaholic. I did not meet any of Karen's needs. I was completely detached as a husband, as a father. And Karen walked up to me and said, "Jimmy, I need you to come home and be with our family and stop playing golf so much", and when she said that to me, yelling, I said, "Go pack your bags, and get out of here, and go back to your parents. I'm tired of you talking to me like that".
And that's the kind of a person I was. That's the night that God broke through my heart. Because of Karen's prayers, God broke through my heart, and I saw myself for the jerk that I was. I was destroying our marriage, and I was a terrible example to our children. Here's what I'm saying. If we're an honest person, it means we can be approached, and when we're approached with information, we're humble about the way that we're being approached, and we don't think that all revolves around us, and we're not afraid of the truth. See, if Karen walks up to me or somebody walks up to me and has truth for me, it's gonna help me out. Why would I be afraid of it? And God loves me. He's not against me. His truth is for me. So that's number one, being an honest individual. Here's the second step in building an honest family, and that is being an honest couple. Now, I realize in some of your families there's not a couple, but these things still apply to couples when there's a marriage in the family.
So what makes an honest couple?
Number one, an honest couple is an equal couple. There can't be any control. Now, when Karen and I was raised in a family where there was a lot of chauvinism. And my father wasn't really as chauvinistic, but there was some chauvinism in my family, and I liked it. I mean, I thought that men were better than women. I thought that women should be very docile and submissive, and so when I married Karen, I would see the... Some women in our family that were real docile and submissive, and I thought, "That's of the Lord. I want one of those", you know. That was when, well, Karen, shortly after marrying Karen, I realized she didn't train very well. And, I thought of the billions of the women in the world, you know, I got one that I can't train here, and so she was, and I just thought she was rebellious, and so I was always talking down to her. I thought that I was better than she was. She was just lucky to be married to mr. Wonderful, and so on and so forth, and so we had a horrible marriage, and we couldn't communicate, because I was the dominator.
Now listen. If there's a dominator in your family, you have a dysfunctional family, and to the degree there's a dominator, you won't be able to talk, because a dominator always makes you pay a price for saying how you feel. Karen and i, listen to me, we were on the brink of divorce. I know how to do this wrong. I grew up in a family that couldn't talk, and Karen and I couldn't talk. But Karen and I could talk today. Here's why. Karen and I are totally equals. She has a right to say anything that she wants to say, and I will not make her pay a price for that, and we never talk about who the boss in our family is, because Jesus Christ is the boss of our family. And when we're making a decision, we talk, and we pray, and we always 100% of the time make decisions together.
And, you know, a hundred times during the year, Karen will say to me, "Jimmy, do what you want. I trust you", and I'll say, "No, you're going with me. If I have to slow down, that's fine. I'm gonna slow down. We're gonna talk about it, but before I act, we're going to agree, because we're partners". And because we're equal partners, I can say anything to Karen, and Karen can say anything to me. But when you have a controller, when you're not equal, when one person's dominating the other, and there are just as many dominant men as women. It's equal, so it's a gender-neutral issue. You have to be equals.
Number 2, an honest couple is a servant couple. We're serving each other. Why am I saying this? Well, I can't meet my needs. If I could meet my own needs, I wouldn't have married Karen. If she could meet her needs, she wouldn't marry me. Children can't meet their needs. They need their parents. As a family, we need each other, well, so we have to serve each other. See, we're at the mercy of the other people in our family serving us, and they're at the mercy of us serving them.
There's nothing worse than a bunch of selfish people in a family, because everyone around you is suffering. You don't care. "If I'm ok, we're ok". That's the motto of a selfish person. "If I'm ok, we're ok". But the motto of servant person is, "I'm not ok until we're all ok. What do you need? What do you need"? And as a father, as a mother, as a wife, as a husband, I'm not threatened by you complaining. I'm trying to serve you. I'm trying to please you. The purpose of my life is to please God and to please my family. I'm not gonna sin, but anything that I can do to meet your needs... See, a functional family is a family that talks about what they need, and they're not threatened by it. They have a custom of relation together, and so you know. There's no dominator, and you're serving each other.
Number 3, an honest couple is an honoring and respectful couple. You honor each other. There's no sarcasm. Sarcasm is anger. Period. Now, see, teasing, there's nothing wrong with teasing, 'cause there's no victim there. It's funny, and there's no victim. But sarcasm is just anger. Passive-aggressive behavior, doing, here's what passive-aggressive behavior means. Doing what I know you don't want me to do. Eating chips in bed. Not doing what I know you want me to do. Ok, I'm not coming and being honest. I'm not walking up to you and saying, "Honey, that bothers me, and I'm gonna need to talk about it". I'm gonna use passive-aggressive behavior. I'm gonna get back at you, but I'm not gonna do it through a legitimate means. I'm just gonna irritate you.
And so understand when your spouse is talking to you, be respectful. If you want your spouse to open their heart to you, you have to create an environment of trust, and here's an environment of trust. "I'm your safe place. Your friends are not your safe place. I'm your safe place". Now here's what that means. "You can say anything you want to to me, and even if I don't agree, I'll respect you. I won't use it against you. I will not criticize you. I will not put you down in front of other people or in front of our kids or something, but I'm your safe place". Ok, so are you an honest couple? An honest couple is an equal couple, it is a servant couple, and it's a respectful couple.
Number 3, ok, this is the third step in building an honest family, and that is you're an honest family. So what makes an honest family? Number one, an honest family is a relational family, ok? We are relational. This is Ephesians 6:4. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in training in the admonition of the Lord". "Fathers, don't provoke your children to wrath". Nonrelational parenting provokes children to wrath.
Let me give you an example of this. We don't have to be best friends with our children, but we need to relate to our children, have fun with our children, and everything we do as a parent is based on a relationship... Well, I didn't have a relationship with my dad. My dad came home. He sat in a chair. The last 20 years of my father's life, uh, he came to the Lord. He was a wonderful man. We had a phenomenal relationship. Growing up, I didn't know my dad. I had no relationship with him. And my father undercommunicated and then got angry when we did something wrong, and it just frustrated me. He wouldn't tell you what he wanted you to do, but he expected you to do it. He undercommunicated, and as a child, I remember being provoked to wrath.
So I was at a funeral, and I was a family member, and we were all in a room, and there was a man, kind of an extended family member. I didn't know him. He was like an in-law. And he was standing over there, and he had, like, an 8-year-old boy here with him. And this little 8-year-old boy was standing there, being a good little kid. I mean, he was a little kid, but he was just a good little kid, and this father looked down. This father was giving his child a dirty look, and, uh, the kid was just standing there. And in this little room, this funeral, this father reached down and thumped this boy on the head as hard as you can thump, and you could hear it all over the room, and the little boy started crying, and the father now is furious at the boy and looks down at him and starts yelling at him and giving him dirty looks and things like that.
And, I mean, because of my past, I wanted to come across the room at this guy and say, "Why don't you take the boy outside and say what you have to say to him in a loving, relational manner and correct him as a father should correct his child"? But you don't undercommunicate and then begin to punish a child for what they don't know they're supposed to do. You relate to your child. An honest family is a relational family, which means the whole point of us being a family is to relate, and whatever we do is gonna be in the context of a relationship.
See, some parents are barkers, and they don't patiently communicate with their children in a relational context. They just bark at their children what they want them to do. That breaks a child's spirit. It breaks your spouse's spirit. Whatever you have to say, you sit down in a relational context, and you say, "Honey, here's what I want you to do, and here's why I want you to do it". Whether it's your spouse or whether it's a child or a family member. You patiently communicate in the... Listen, if you don't have a relationship with someone, you haven't earned the right to correct them. You have to have a relationship. Doesn't mean you're best friends with your children, but it has to be relational.
Number 2, an honest family is a responsible family, that we take responsibility for our behavior. In Genesis, chapter 3, Adam and Eve sinned against God, and God came, and he said to Adam, "What is this that you've done"? Adam said, "It's her fault". Came to eve and said, "Eve, what is this that you've done"? She said, "The devil made me do it". And then one of their sons, Cain, killed his brother Abel, and God walked up to Cain and said, "Cain, where's your brother"? He said, "Am I my brother's keeper"? There was only one responsible family member in the original 4 people on the earth, and it was Abel, because God said bring me an offering, and Abel brought God a responsible offering, and Cain got jealous and killed him. Of the 4 original family members on earth, 3 of 'em transferred the blame to somebody else or refused to take responsibility.
Let me tell you something about your family. You're gonna get on each other's nerves. You're gonna... now don't scream when I say that, because I know you're shocked. You're gonna get on each other's nerves. You're gonna do things that bother each other. Ok. And for that to be resolved, you're gonna have to talk about it. You're gonna have to sit down in a relational, loving way and to say, "Listen. That bothered me. I may be wrong. I may be wrong. I'm not accusing you. I'm not gonna lash out at you. I may be wrong, but that bothered me, and I want to talk that out". But listen. For any issue to be resolved, someone has to take responsibility, ok. Not the same person all the time. That means there's a controller in the family.
If the same person is always wrong, there's a controller in the family. Ok, mom and dad set the tone, and here's what heals a family. "I was wrong. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me"? In a sincere way. "I was wrong". I never said I was wrong for the first 3 years of our marriage, not one time. Every time there was a problem, I became a prosecuting attorney trying to convince Karen that she was the problem. And when our marriage changed on the night that I told Karen to get out of the house, I walked into the bedroom and said, "I'm gonna hang my golf clubs up. I'm sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me"? Was the first time I'd ever said it. And those words began the healing in our relationship. For the first time in my life, I took responsibility for being the jerk that I was, and that's when the healing began in our marriage. You're gonna have fights. You're gonna have problems. You know you are. And in order for that to be resolved, someone has to take responsibility, and as parents, we set the example of this.
You know, Karen was so good at this with our kids, because when our kids were struggling, you know, they had attitudes or whatever, you know, Karen would go and sit on their beds for hours and talk to 'em. And when we were wrong about something, we would say to our kids, "We're sorry. We were wrong. Will you forgive us"? And every time we did, you know, our kids would say, "Well, we forgive you", and the air was cleared. But you have to take responsibility for your behavior. It's the only way that you can really resolve problems, rather than blaming somebody. "You made me mad. You shouldn't have said that. You shouldn't have done that. That's irresponsible and immature. Regardless of what you did, I take responsibility for what I did. And even if I'm only 10% of the problem, I'm gonna take care of my 10% and not blame everything on you". Ok, so we're responsible.
Number 3, this is my last point. An honest family is a gracious family. That means it's loving and forgiving beyond what you deserve. A performance-based family means you get, it's a tit for tat thing, you get what you deserve, and if you don't deserve it, you don't get any more. Criticism, comparison, put-downs. You know here's the way I felt growing up, 'cause my dad was very performance based. If you did well, you didn't get in trouble. Heh. You didn't get anything for it. There weren't any kudos or anything. If you did well, you didn't get in trouble, but if you didn't do well, you got in trouble. A gracious family means this. "You don't have to do anything. We're gonna love you anyway. You don't have to deserve our love, and even if you're doing wrong, we're gonna treat you right, and this family's a safe place to be".
I love being around gracious people. Gracious people are the easiest people in the world to relate to, because they're not performance based, and when you do something wrong, they're quick to forgive. Performance-based people means, "You'll have to deserve my love. You're gonna have to perform for my love". And that creates just this chilling atmosphere in a family, where you're always afraid you're gonna get rejected. You're always afraid that you're in trouble. "We're gonna talk things out if there's a problem. We're gonna relationally talk things out, but even if you're imperfect, even if you don't respond the way that we want you to, the atmosphere in this family is we're gonna love each other in a godly way, and we're gonna give each other more love than we deserve", and that creates the atmosphere for honesty.
You know, Ephesians 4 says, "Speaking the truth in love, we grow up into all aspects into him". There are 2 things we need to grow as a family, as a person, as a couple, and we need truth, and we need love. There are people, and they are truthful, but they're mean, and it hurts. They're saying something that's honest. When I talk about building an honest family, I'm talking about building a family where truth is allowed, where you can talk about your feelings. You can talk about your problems, where you're teachable, where you want information, and it's just an open atmosphere, but it's loving. It's gracious. You certainly don't want dishonesty or silence. That's dysfunctional.
One of the hallmarks of dysfunction is silence, where you don't talk and we don't allow emotions to be shared. We don't want people to share things that are negative, ok? That's dysfunctional. So we want to be honest, but at the same time, we want to be loving to each other. I want to love my wife. I want her to love me. We want to love our children. And, see, it says, "Speaking the truth in love", truth and love, "We grow up into all aspects". There are people who are very loving. They're just not truthful. They're very kind. They're just not truthful.
And here's the way I say it. Truth without love is mean, but love without truth is meaningless. Truth without love is surgery without anesthesia. You may be getting at the problem, but you're gonna kill somebody in the process. But love without truth is a cheerleader without a team. You're saying all the right things. It just doesn't mean anything. It's not getting anywhere. We need both. We need grace and truth.
The Bible says in John 1, "Jesus was full of grace and truth". He spoke the truth, but he did it with grace. My encouragement to you is be an honest family. Allow honesty as a couple in your own life with God. Be teachable. Be honest before God. Be honest as a couple. Be honest as a family, but do it in love. Let that be the standard of your family, is "We're going to grow as a family as we speak the truth in love". You will love it. Your children will love it, and it will create the family that you want. I hope this program has been an encouragement to you today. I'll see you next time right here on "The Overcoming Life".