10 Ways to Authentically Love Family & Friends with Intentionality

 

Everyday Laboring Tips | Family and Friends

Kingdom laboring doesn’t have to be laborious. More than anything, Kingdom laboring is loving others out of the up-close love relationship you have with God. It doesn’t require a theological degree, insist on a minimum age, or demand a certain level of spiritual maturity. Kingdom laboring is a simple call to intentionally and genuinely love others—wherever you are, whoever you’re with, with whatever measure of God’s love you have to offer in the moment.

Below are 10 ways to love your family and friends in Kingdom-Laboring ways. In time, you might be amazed to see just how much God’s Kingdom grows in and around you seemingly “all by itself” (Mark 4:28) as you authentically and intentionally love others.

 

Here are 10 ways to authentically love family & friends with intentionality.

 

  1. Eat meals together.

I know, getting the family together for a meal these days is like herding cats. Still, get creative. If two or three times a week isn’t a possibility, maybe once every two weeks is. Everyone eats. And, most in our culture eat three meals a day. Jesus spent a lot of time around meal tables for a reason: food, conversation, and deeper life all find space around shared meals. So, dine in or invite your family member or friend to go out for lunch, coffee or ice cream. Take some time to be present with one another. Speak or be silent. Talk about deep things or share about everyday things. Your time together won’t be wasted.

 

  1. Learn and grow together.

Plants, animals, humans—everyone one of them were created to keep growing. So are marriages, families, and friendships. Relationships suffer when one person grows while others do not. Unfortunately, some prefer to “stay stuck” in life. They act as if they have all they need and want, and that there’s nothing more worth learning about God, life, and others. Their choice to be stagnant not only diminishes their own life but also stifles relationships with those around them. Find ways to grow together. Take a class together. Learn a skill or trade together. Study God’s Word together. It doesn’t matter the subject matter. Just do it… together.

 

  1. Tend to your first second-love.

If you’re a Christ-follower, you’re first love is Jesus (Revelation 2:4). If you’re a Christ-follower who is married, your first second-love is your spouse. Don’t leave your relationship at the wedding altar. Work, life, children, hobbies, even church, has a way of grabbing our attention and consuming our time, energy, and loyalties. So, schedule in a date night. Make time to simply ask about one another’s day. Take time to slow down together, to listen more than speak in conversation, and genuinely have some fun. The lack of money need not get in the way. Get imaginative. Some of the greatest memories are moments spent together without ever spending a dime.

 

  1. Play together.

You may have heard the expression, “The family that prays together, stays together.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Here’s some more good advice, “The family that plays together, stays together.” Playing may not seem as essential to the family unity as prayer, but don’t underestimate it. God made us to be rested and whole, to be re-created. It’s no mistake that a part of re-creation is recreation. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and season for everything under the sun. That includes both working hard, and yes, playing hard. So, get active together—kick a ball, take a hike, play hide-and-go-seek. If indoors is more your style, play some board games. Or, try a game like “Top Three” where each person in the circle shares their top three choices about any subject under the sun, like, Top Three vacation spots or desserts or movies. Whatever the game… have fun, together.

 

  1. Serve one another. Be second.

Jesus often turned worldly wisdom on its head. Take, for instance, the notion of being first, on top, number one. Jesus said things like, “If you want your life, lose it” (Mt. 16:25), and “If you want to be first, go last” (Mt. 20:16), and “The Son of Man didn’t come to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). Love often flourishes as the act of serving one another in love.

That said, why not clean a family members’ bedroom or bathroom unexpectedly. Complete an item or two on their chore list. Take the smaller piece, the lesser share. Let others in your family go first at meal time, in sharing the bathroom, when picking the movie to watch, when walking through doors. Let your loving sacrifice show that you consider them more highly then yourself. Be warned: your loving kindness may make some wonder if you’re making up for something you’ve done wrong!

 

  1. Encourage each another.

A little encouragement goes a long way. Life is littered with criticism and pessimism. What might your family and friend relationships look like as you encourage and spur on those you love? Some simple, intentional encouragements can come in the form of a note, a spoken word, or an uplifting deed. Even in difficult relationships, we can find a true, kind, and uplifting encouragement toward others when motived by love.

 

  1. Be responsible.

The greatest measure of love isn’t always fancy, syrupy, or touchy-feely. Sometimes love looks like work and responsibility. The most profound expression of love you can give another family member or friend might be stewarding your money and time well, keeping your word, being consistent in faith and life, following through, and being dependable. Love takes root and flourishes when love’s actions are consistent with love’s speech.

 

  1. Unplug, unwind, and get face-to-face.

What would it look like to set aside the phone, jump off Instagram, turn off the remote, turn down the radio, and give more time and attention to a friend or family member? Increasingly, our proximity comes without our presence. “The light is on but no one’s home” describes us far too often. What would it look like to practice being present with those you love? Instead of listening to a song, maybe share with another why you like a song. Instead of responding to a post on Facebook in a virtual room, why not discuss your opinion with someone in your living room. Like eating meals together, unplugging devices and engaging in face-to-face conversations might take some practice and patience. Don’t know where to start? Try this.  Agree to park your cell phones in a basket for the time between school and dinner with the understanding that only human interactions and conversations are allowed.

 

  1. Ask forgiveness often.

Be quick to say, “I missed it, I blew it, I’m sorry, please forgive me.” One of the greatest ways to deepen relationships is seek forgiveness when we’ve offended someone. Ironically, one of the least practiced virtues in relationships is humbly asking forgiveness. Asking forgiveness invites others to peace and unity. It removes walls that divide us and builds bridges to share life in unity and peace. Practice saying, “Please forgive me for…” (then name the offense). Beyond “I’m sorry,” asking forgiveness calls for a response from the one you’ve offended. Asking forgiveness is a pretty big deal. The more we practice it, the more others will be invited into a family and friendship where love and freedom reign.

 

  1. Don’t settle, start somewhere.

These laboring tips may seem overwhelming for all-or-nothing kind of people. Don’t let them be. Simply, start somewhere. Start with a cupcake, a lay-up—a love-act more easily accomplished that will give you momentum and inspire you to take another step in loving God and your family in deeper ways. Let love show you what to do. Whatever you do, get going. Be intentional. Get active in loving your family and friends in ways that overflow out of your up-close love with God.

 

John Boyd

Writer | Content Team

John Boyd is a husband, father, former pastor, and writer, who longs to lead those hungering and thirsting for “more” to places of greater depth and intimacy with Jesus Christ.

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