We need each other to survive and maintain happiness. This was the main theme of the Seventh-day Adventist-sponsored Family Life seminars held April 11-12, 2008 at the Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church. The event, which was organized by the Family Ministries department of the Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church, had the purpose of empowering and restoring the family unit.
“Families in Bermuda and across the world are facing more and more challenges. We, as a church realize we have a role to play in helping individuals build strong families. This is the reason for this seminar and for the church to have invited these experienced Family Ministries Directors,” Says Elder Malcolm and Georgina Dill, Family Ministries Directors for the Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The seminar was presented by Pastor Merlin Knowles and his wife Cheryl Knowles, Family Ministries Directors for the Northern New England Conference, which serves the members of the Seventh-day Adventist churches in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and is located in the coastal city of Portland, Maine. The Knowles reminded us that even though there are many family life experts, God through His Word is the one to be relied upon, since it was Him who established this institution.
Different by Design
“We were created differently,” says pastor Knowles. “God has given us unique qualities and character traits. We are different emotionally, in the way we express ourselves, in our personality, our talents, our intelligence, physically and even our spiritual gifts,” continued the Knowles.
The Knowles pointed out that despite our differences (in design), we need each other. “When we give to meet someone’s needs we move closer to the Creator in heaven,” says Pastor Knowles. “We were designed in specific ways by God so as to meet each others’ needs. Therefore, we are blessed with talents and gifts not to serve our own desires but to meet the needs of others.” The Knowles believe that if we understand and take this approach, that we are different by design to meet each others’ needs; then some of the challenges we face in our relationships have a high chance of being resolved. For example, a husband’s gift for being a good listener might very well meet the need of his frustrated wife who has had a bad day at work and simply needs to just vent her emotions. Also, keeping in mind how important it is to keep our spouse happy.
The Knowles believe we can attain true happiness when we meet the needs of others. Sometimes we find ourselves in a position of need. This is because we were made to have needs. Genesis 1:21 reminds us that Adam was in need of a companion and God met his need by creating Eve. It is important to realize that having need(s) is not a result of sin since Adam’s need was prior to sin. In our relationships, we may encounter individuals who are always ‘in-need’. They expect much but give little which is the source of many marital problems.
Relationship is a give and take process. Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton in their book, How Full is Your Bucket? – Positive Strategies for Work and Life
, sees each individual as having an invisible bucket. It is constantly being emptied or filled, depending on our encounter with others. When our bucket is full, we feel great and when it is empty we feel awful. When we meet someone’s need (filling that person’s bucket), it makes us feel better. It can be further proposed that by filling another person’s bucket, our bucket will need refilling - give and take. If we continuously take from someone’s bucket, it might leave that person in ‘drought’. Also, we somehow get the idea that we need no one; this might result in having an empty bucket.
The Knowles identified two major enemies of relationships. One is self-sufficiency. This is the skewed believe that we can only rely on ourselves. The other is self-centeredness. It is all about me. We should realize and remember that it is important to create and maintain balance. So, while being in need, we should also strive to meet the needs of others.
We all have needs and it is our expectation that our needs are met whether by ourselves, our parents, our partner, our church, or even God Himself.
Dr. Jeffrey Brown, President & Family Life Director for the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-day Adventists commended the Midland Heights church on taking the initiative in addressing the crisis currently facing families in our communities. He said, “The Midland Heights Church is taking the initiative to address one of Bermuda’s common problems. Many families today are threatened with a variety of problems and are succumbing to them. The Adventist Church in Bermuda is committed to offering support and resources such as this seminar, to families so as to keep them together and strong.”
Ms. Judith Brooks, member of the Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church and Social Worker with the government of Bermuda remarked on the relevance of the information. “The Knowles have taken a topic which affects everyone and simplify it. As a result of this presentation, we are better equipped to effect positive changes in our relationships.” Ms. Brooks will be conducting a four-week parenting seminar being hosting by the Midland Heights Church starting in the near future.