How Can I Help the Team?
This summer, I coached my oldest son’s baseball team. These seven- and eight-year-old boys were very much still learning the game; so in addition to teaching them basic skills of hitting, catching, and throwing, one of my main tasks was teaching them mental focus. That is, I couldn’t have my players watching their siblings’ antics in the bleachers, playing with the gravel at their feet, or gazing at airplanes passing overhead. I needed their heads in the game–especially on defense.
To achieve this, I encouraged my players to regularly and internally ask themselves some questions: Where’s the play? Where should I throw the ball? How many outs? What base should I be covering or backing up? Or more generally, how can I help the team? This way, before the ball was hit into the field, they would be prepared and know what to do if it was hit to them.
How Can I Help the Family?
Although the baseball season is now over, I’ve adapted this coaching strategy to marriage and family life. As I explained to my baseball playing son (and his younger siblings), just as on the baseball field he should regularly be asking, “how can I help the team?”, so in the home, he should regularly be asking, “how can I help the family?” This bit of advice has worked surprisingly well for him: it’s taught him to look for ways to help the family and to view parental orders as opportunities to serve the family. (I’m still working on the lesson with his younger siblings!)
And as it often is for parents, when we dispense advice, we frequently realize that we ourselves could be better examples of the advice dispensed. So too here. This advice is not just for children. Throughout the day, fathers and mothers can benefit from regularly asking themselves the same question, “how can I help the family?”, or variations, including:
- How can I serve my children?
- How can I serve my spouse?
- How can I be more patient with my children and my spouse?
And of course, we should all be regularly asking ourselves the ultimate question: how can I serve God?
How Can I Serve God?
It is this question, “how can I serve God?”, that should encompass all the others. Truly, it is knowing, loving, and serving God that must come first. As Jesus said: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” And “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.” When we seek God and His Kingdom and His righteousness first, and adhere to this greatest and first commandment, then our love for God will manifest itself in adherence to the second of the great commandments: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Stated another way: if you don’t love your neighbor, you don’t love God. (Hat tip to bluegrass musician Rhonda Vincent.)
And who is our neighbor? To put it simply, it’s usually the person right in front of you. For parents, this is typically their spouse and children.
For Christ, How Can I Help the Family?
Thus, this returns us to the recurring question (proposed above) that we should be asking ourselves throughout the day: How can I help the family? But notice that if our love of family is a manifestation of our love of God, rather than a purely human love of our family, then we ought to slightly modify our question to: How can I help the family out of love of God? Or perhaps we can simplify it to: For Christ, how can I help the family?
And now we have something simple but very powerful: a practical application of the two Great Commandments for family life. May we repeatedly ask this question in our homes. And may we repeatedly answer this question with acts of sacrificial love and service out of love for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
William R. Bloomfield is an attorney in Lansing, Michigan where he lives with his wife and five children. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville and the Ave Maria School of Law; he is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. Most recently, he is the publisher of the Sacred Art Series, available through www.SacredArtSeries.com.