A group of tourists went to visit a marble quarry in western Vermont. As their tour progressed around the quarry, one of the visitors called out to a jack hammer-wielding worker below, “What are you doing down there?” The worker snarled back, “I’m cutting this stupid rock into a square!” Seeing another worker who appeared to be doing the same thing, the visitor called out to him, “What are you doing?” The second worker, obviously happy in his work, called back, “I’m on a team building a cathedral!”
When we view family life through the eyes of the first worker, we are just a group of people living under the same roof. Your contribution to the effort may go unnoticed in the busyness of day to day activities. Conversely, you may not acknowledge the contribution of others to the family’s well-being. In short, we are just cutting rocks into squares.
But when we embrace family life through the eyes of the second worker, our family becomes a team that is building a cathedral. Each one in the family has a contribution to make. Our job as Mom and Dad is to require a contribution, recognize the contribution, and celebrate the contribution. Part of developing our family identity is getting your kids on your team. If we require them to join the team with all responsibility and no celebration, family life becomes defined by rules; cold and rigid. When we celebrate and reward without responsibility, we fail our kids. We haven’t taught them the value of self-discipline, loyalty, and service.
As in all things family, building a cathedral requires balance. A balance of responsibility and celebration. A balance of love and control. A balance of truth and grace.