Guest post by Dr. Tim Elmore
Love. We probably talk about this concept more today than ever before, but actually practice it less than ever. At least in the way God intended us to do so. We find love in movies, romance novels, in Hallmark cards, on YouTube, and on bumper stickers. At Christmas time, especially, love is promoted by stores to push sales, and by cinemas to sell tickets. We all love the idea of love!
But how do we practice it on the people we are closest to — like — in our home? Sometimes, the hardest people to love are not the strangers we meet out shopping, but our own family members.
Try this simple idea.
Sit down at dinner one night and talk about “love languages.” You may be familiar with the concept. Author, Dr. Gary Chapman, introduced it to us in his 1992 book: The Five Love Languages. After many years of counseling, Dr. Chapman noticed a pattern: Everyone he had ever counseled had a “love language;” a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He also discovered that for whatever reason, people are usually drawn to those who speak a different love language than their own. The 5 love languages are:
1. Words of Affirmation (Speaking words of encouragement, favor and belief)
2. Quality Time (Spending focused time just sharing with another person)
3. Physical Touch (Holding hands, offering a hug or a squeeze to express affection)
4. Deeds of Service (Finding ways to serve someone by doing something for them)
5. Tangible Gifts (Providing some tangible gift that the other person appreciates)
Allow each family member to discuss which of these is their favorite. Then, have each family member write down their name and what their top love language is. Then, divide them up secretly. Each person should have the name of someone else in the family. The assignment is this: Each person must find a way to “speak” that love language to the person they drew. The following week, talk about what happened.
Then discuss: How could this be a regular practice in our family, and not just at the holidays but year round?
“If someone says ‘I love God’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (I John 4:20)
Join us tomorrow at Eric Bryant’s blog as we discuss ways to develop faith in your kids (and maybe yourself!) during the holidays.
You can follow Tim Elmore’s personal blog at http://blog.growingleaders.com, and learn more about developing the next generation in his latest book: Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future.