Have you ever tried to give a cat a bath? Personally, I haven’t but hear it’s pretty difficult to pull off. Most cats don’t like water and will contort their bodies in very unnatural ways just to avoid taking the plunge. It’s not unlike when a cat sees a cucumber (look it up on YouTube – it’s weird). Now, imagine how difficult it would be to give four cats a bath.

If you snuck into my house on any given morning when we have to get our four sons someplace by a certain time, that’s what you’d find – cats, water, chaos. What’s extra insane is that at our house, while the boys are avoiding shoes and backpacks and teeth brushing, they’re also fighting with one another… a lot. So awhile back I sat them down and gave them a new definition for what it meant to be a family; more precisely, I shared with them what it meant to be a team. Here’s the jist of it:

Teammates SACRIFICE for each other.

In other words, there are going to be times when you are called to give something up for a teammate. In the family context, you’ll need to sometimes give up the front seat for your brother who hasn’t had the chance to sit there for a long time. So our goal is the best for the unit, not just for ourselves. 5-year-olds hate this part the most, because they love “mine” and are faced with the possibility of making “mine” “ours.” But again, that’s what it means to be a family.

Teammates SERVE each other.

No, you did not take out those Legos, but will you serve your brother by putting them away for him? Some form of that question shows up every day at our house. Because we value serving our family; our teammates. Here’s why that’s important: because I believe we’re never more like Jesus than when we serve someone else. And I want my boys to be like Jesus, so I lean into the ever-present sibling group around them as the practice field for their future. And serving can’t be done begrudgingly, because that’s not the same thing. We want to serve our brother because we love them and this is a great way to express that love.

Teammates SUPPORT each other.

We always have each other’s backs. Always. Throw in any cliche you like here (like blood is thicker than water) and I use it with my boys. You might pick on your brother but nobody else does. You stick up for them and defend them. You are your teammates’ (and family’s) biggest cheerleader in whatever it is they’re doing.

I’m sure by now you caught that all three start with an “S.” So in our house we call them “The 3 S-es of a Team.” It might sound cliche and cheesy, but it’s helped us be a little more consistent and while the cats still don’t want to get in the water, they’re at least working together to avoid it.


After serving as the Student Ministries Pastor for 10 years, Josh Petersen is now the Lead Pastor of Immanuel Church. He’s married to Heidi and together they live with Jake, Logan, Cole and Sawyer at the circus they call home.

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