Share This Episode
Living on the Edge Chip Ingram Logo

Unstuck - Overcoming a Dysfunctional Family, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
January 19, 2024 5:00 am

Unstuck - Overcoming a Dysfunctional Family, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1377 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

January 19, 2024 5:00 am

We all come from dysfunctional families. But what happens when your family dysfunction begins to cause problems with your life right now? Join Chip as he encourages us with what to do next.


Okay, let's get it on the table. You and I come from dysfunctional families. Now, some are worse than others, but no one had perfect parents, and that means there's dysfunctions. Here's the issue. What happens when your family dysfunction begins to cause problems with your life today?

Need help? Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram.

You know, when there's a falling out or a friction in a family, the ripple effect of that tension can be felt for generations. But today, as Chip continues his series, Unstuck, we'll learn it doesn't have to be that way. But before he dives in, let me encourage you to get Chip's message notes for this valuable program. They include all the scripture he references, his outline, and some key fill-ins to help you remember what you hear. Download them under the Broadcasts tab at

App listeners, tap Fill In Notes. Well, with that, here's Chip with today's talk, Overcoming a Dysfunctional Family, from Ephesians Chapter 2. I will tell you, some of the greatest people on the face of the earth who have done the most good have come from dysfunctional families. So this message is not going to be about finding someone that we can blame. But the other side is we can't deny where we came out of and try and make up fairy tale stories and reframe our past and put a nice smiley face on it when it really wasn't very good because it makes us feel so bad about one of your parents.

Now here's what we know. When problems and circumstances such as parental alcoholism, parental illness, child abuse, or extreme parental rigidity and control interfere with family functioning, the effects on children can sometimes linger long after the children have grown up and left their problem families. Adults raised in dysfunctional families frequently report difficulties forming and maintaining intimate relationships, maintaining a positive self-esteem, and trusting others. They fear loss of control and they deny their feelings in reality.

There's a lot of us that could say, been there and done that, right? A definition of a dysfunctional family, and I've put that in your notes, and it says a dysfunctional family is that which is not operating according to its original design, faulty, impaired, not working properly for optimal results. And the question I think I'd ask is in what ways, I mean we all have our struggles, but in what ways when you think about your family growing up, no blaming, just the reality of how did it function in a way that wasn't very healthy?

Some of the specific things are families that have very minimal relational connection, alcoholism, families who gathered around the TV but never talked face-to-face, a lack of love, lack of communication, little time together, affirmation, failure to respect one another, no boundary set, lack of nurture and encouragement. And then I came across a little test and what I want you to do, there's about 12 to 15 questions and in your mind I just want you to say yes or no. First thing that comes to your mind, yes or no, yes or no. And you can count how many yes's or no's on your fingers if you want. If you're here with someone close to you that you would be embarrassed how many fingers come up, then do it in your head.

But it's a pretty safe place. And I'm going to read these pretty rapidly and I don't want you to think, well I'm sort of not sure, I don't, just whatever your first reaction would be is probably the most accurate one and then I will let you know the implications. It's just a little test from their website. Question number one, do you find yourself needing approval from others to feel good about yourself? Yes or no.

Do you agree to do more for others than you can comfortably accomplish? Yes or no. Are you a perfectionist? Yes or no.

Do you tend to avoid or ignore responsibilities? Yes or no. Do you find it difficult to identify what you're feeling inside? Yes or no.

Do you find it difficult to express your feelings? Yes or no. Do you tend to think in an all or nothing terms? Yes or no.

Do you often feel lonely even in the presence of others? Yes or no. Is it difficult for you to ask for what you need from others? Yes or no. Is it difficult for you to maintain intimate relationships? Yes or no. Do you find it difficult to trust others? Yes or no.

Count on those fingers. Do you tend to hang on to hurtful, destructive relationships? Yes or no. Are you more aware of others' needs and feelings than you are your own? Yes or no. Do you find it particularly difficult to deal with anger or criticism? Yes or no. Is it hard for you to relax and enjoy yourself? Yes or no. Do you find yourself feeling like a fake in an academic or professional life? Yes or no. Do you find yourself waiting for disaster to strike even when things are going well in your life? Yes or no.

And do you find yourself having difficulty with authority figures? Yes or no. Now, you know how these tests are. They say if you said yes to more than half of those, there were 18 in all, you may have come from a dysfunctional family. If you answered three, four, or five, chances are you came from just sort of a regular group of people like many of us with all of our hangups.

We're all going to say yes to some of those things. Now, here's what we know. Dysfunctional families are not new, but we do know that the level and the extreme of what's happened in families in more recent years, there are more dysfunctional families with more extremes. And here's what we've learned from the recovery movement and what we've learned from the psychological literature over the years, that there are four very specific things we know about dysfunctional families. And I've just listed them right on your notes. Dysfunctional families left to themselves produce dysfunctional children.

Aha. That's like, wow, but that's important. Number two, dysfunctional families require an intervention to break the cycle of destruction. I mean, I think back to my father losing his father when he was 13.

I think of him going into the Marines at 16. I think of my mother's background and what she came from and they married and the alcoholism in her family, the alcoholism in my wife's family, in our family, it gets passed on. We just pass on our dysfunction. And it requires an intervention.

You don't slide out of that. Because here's a big aha moment. I thought my family was normal. I had a rebellious older sister, a sister with an eating disorder, and I was trying to rescue the world.

Isn't that what everyone has? See, because when you're inside of a system, you can't see the system. I want you to really think about this because when God begins to speak to us about when He wanted to help this dysfunctional family called mankind, it required an intervention. Third, genuine recovery never begins until a person hits bottom. And fourth, genuine recovery is never complete until another person has helped another person recover. If you're familiar with the 12 steps, you know, that toward the very end you need to help someone else.

You need to sponsor someone else. You help someone else get healthy. And so I don't want to spend our time just looking at, you know, psychology and our dysfunctional families. And in many cases, this has been used, oh, I'm from a dysfunctional family. It's how I blame my past. I blame other people. Everyone gets a choice.

Everyone has the responsibility. Everyone gets to decide how you respond to the background and the family you came out of. The victim mentality, it was my mom's fault, my dad's fault, this or that, that only causes you to continue in whatever you came out of. Some people come from dysfunctional families. They never come out of it. Other people realize, you know something?

There's some amazingly good things that come out of that pain and that hurt. I mean, the most extreme example, can you imagine being Helen Keller? I mean, you can't hear.

You can't see. When you begin to understand, everyone gets cards dealt to them that are, quote, not perfect, fair, wonderful, nurturing. It's how you respond to them. I just had a very interesting experience with, I have two older sisters and we've lived in different parts of the country, and so very rarely do we all get together in the same room. And I had an event in Columbus, Ohio, and I have a sister who lives there, one in Kentucky, and we did a little teaching for some pastors, and my sister said, we'll spend an extra day, and so I did. And the three of us got together and we had adult conversations.

We're all in our 50s. And we had a conversation we never had before. We all talked about what it was like to grow up in our home, three different homes. We got to talk about, without trying to candy-coat it or any one of us taking up, no mom really wasn't, she didn't, dad didn't. We just, you know, our parents needed to own this. This was not good stuff.

This is what it did to me, this is what it did to you. And then we said, then we took another layer and we said, this is where our parents came from and boy do I understand what they got and how they passed it on. And we need to be very kind and gentle and merciful and realizing, you know what, in view of where they came out of, they were great parents to us.

They gave it their best shot. You know, when you get to be in your 50s and have grown kids, you get way less critical, you know, as you have passed on some of the same junk. And then each one of us talked about, what do we need to own in our journey? What happened, what do we need to own about how we responded to our family?

You know, I got one that rebelled and went through horrendous times, one with the eating disorder and me, you know, trying to save the world, you know, Mr. Workaholism. And then we talked about the intersection at different stages of where Jesus met us. And now in our 50s, sitting around talking about our grown children and our journey and sort of this, it was the first time ever I can remember, no one trying to defend one of our parents or no one trying to blame anyone, but objectively walking through in the sovereignty of God, this is where our parents came from.

In the sovereignty of God, this is what we experienced. Here's the good that came out of that. I praise God my dad was a Marine. I praise God that he pushed me hard. I praise God I learned to be disciplined. I praise God I learned to set goals. I praise God that I had, grew up with tons of confidence.

I don't praise God that I had this performance orientation that I've been working through. But a sovereign God knew his plan for me, my sisters, and what you need to, you need to look at it and understand it. But the greatest part was the faith intersection of when and how we met Jesus and our journey since then and how God can use if you, by faith, begin to look at what the good is, what my responsibility is, and what kind of intervention needs to happen for you to grow through the dysfunctional family if you come from one of those. And probably everyone here is thinking, well, we're all dysfunctional to a degree to which I'd say you're right. In fact, God's solution for dysfunctional families goes way beyond emotions, way beyond even our personal human relationships, and way beyond any psychology.

God's solution for dysfunctional families, let's examine the problem. Here's what he's going to say. He's going to say we are all members of a dysfunctional family. He spent all of chapter one saying you're in Christ, in him, in him. Here's all that's true of you.

Now this is true of you. Now in chapter two he's going to say, but I want to remind you where you came from. And he's going to say your dysfunctional family was not like one generation ago. It wasn't two generations ago. It wasn't five generations ago. It wasn't your great, great, great, great, great, great, great, double great, grandfather or grandmother. He's going to say your dysfunction goes all the way back to your original parents. Every issue, every problem of every family goes all the way back.

Listen to what he says. Ephesians chapter two, verse one. As for you, speaking to these Ephesian Christians, you are dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live, literally your lifestyle. And the word is, the way you used to walk, when? When you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, speaking of Satan, this spirit namely that's in the work of those who are disobedient.

And then he says, you know, here's the scope. This wasn't just some people, all of us who lived among them at one time, speaking of their life before Christ. Gratifying the cravings of the word literally is the lust of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature, in our DNA, by nature, objects of wrath.

I want you to circle in the first line the word dead, then I want you to skip down four lines and circle the word disobedient, and then I want you to go all the way to the bottom and circle the word objects of wrath. The gospel is only good news when you face the bad news. God says, Ephesian Christians, I gave you a lot of good news, you have been chosen, you've been adopted, you have an inheritance, you've been sealed with the Spirit, God loves you, all that's in Christ, in Christ, in Christ. But here's what I want you to remember, as for you, you were one separated from God, you were spiritually dead. When our first parents sinned and rebelled against God, they didn't keel over physically, they were separated from God.

They were disconnected from a relationship with their Creator. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Before we hear the rest of Chip's message, let me remind you that we are a listener-supported ministry. Your financial gifts help us create this program, develop new resources, and encourage pastors globally. Prayerfully consider supporting us today. Then go to to give a gift.

Thanks so much for your help. Well, here again is Chip. And he gives two reasons. He says, by transgressions, that's the idea of being on a trail and knowing you should go to the right way instead of the left way, and you choose the left way. He says, your sins and your transgressions, your wrong paths, so that's what you actually did in which you lived.

It was a lifestyle, it's how you lived. You knew what was right, you didn't do it. You fell short of God's perfect standard. In fact, you were living your life by the ways of this world that's energized by the enemy, and the spirit of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, selfishness and greed. That's who you were. So you were dead spiritually, and you were disobedient to truth and to God.

And he says, you know what the results were? You're an object of wrath. God is absolutely loving and kind and compassionate and holy, and he's absolutely just. And the just wrath of God is when we do things that hurt people, when we do things that sin against him, there is an anger of God that is righteous to preserve his creation.

And he says, that's what you were like. And it came out of your relationship with your dysfunctional family. The source of our dysfunctional family in a verse is Romans 5-12. Listen carefully, it says, therefore just as sin entered the world through one man, Adam, and death through sin, this death came to all men because all sinned. And so if you want to really talk about dysfunctional families, you go back to the first family, there was a dysfunction that created death, disobedience and the wrath of God.

And he says, now we all have carried this. And so the results are three Ds is what I give them. D number one in the past is death. D number two in the present is disobedience. You can fill that in.

And D number three is destruction. That's what dysfunctional families do. And I've shared a little bit about mine and you could share a little bit about yours. And I will tell you that there was separation in our family, separation from God. My dad grew up in a religious system. We went to the religious system. The people didn't believe the Bible. We said little prayers. There was no reality.

There was disobedience. We were externally good moral people. My parents were nice, good moral as in by the world standards. They were both school teachers.

They were both well educated. We sort of had the GI, World War II, be good people, buy a house in the suburbs, raise your kids well, get a good education, don't commit any really big bad sins, project that you're a little bit better than you are. And we were far from God. We were externally religious.

It was so external that by the time I got in my mid-teens it was like I don't know if I believe in God and I don't believe in this and all this hypocrisy and it was I'm out of here. And so as a result of my father's growing pain, it was a couple beers after school, then it was four or five beers after school, then pretty soon he didn't come home for dinner, then pretty soon it was 11 o'clock at night, and then pretty soon I heard the screaming of my parents with my older sister. And so my sister didn't get love so she went and found love someplace else. And she rebelled.

And her life ended up for a while a mess. And he'd be sitting there, I remember Saturday mornings there'd be two cases of Mabel Black Label, that'll date some of you. And all I knew his name was John. But Saturday mornings there'd be two cases of beer and my dad would drink one and John would drink one. And they'd sit and talk and then he'd get up to go to the bathroom about a dozen times throughout the day. And when he got up I'd say, excuse me John, and I'd take my dad's beer and I would go over to the sink and I would pour it out and then I would put it back so he thought that he drank it. I'm going to save my dad. By the time I was in late high school I had one of those Hoosier moments where my dad was drunk and it was one of my basketball games.

And he didn't like the way the coach was calling the game and my role in that particular game and all I heard was from my buddies later, hey man the police came and had to drag your dad out of here. My middle sister who becomes the invisible one, by the way in dysfunctional families we create roles and we fulfill them. So the scapegoat's my older sister, I'm the rescuer, and my other sister cooked the meals, took care of everyone, just wanted there to be peace and harmony. And all I remember was it was really weird the last two years of high school because she would always walk around and all she had was this little bowl of wheat puffs or something, they had no calories in them.

And she just got skinnier and skinnier and skinnier and skinnier until she was just skin and bones and had an eating disorder. Because see we didn't get love. But I mean if you ask someone in the community, man our family looks squeaky clean. What we were experiencing was death or separation in our relationships.

We were living in disobedience to God and disobedience and we were experiencing the just consequences of sin. Now my mom was the enabler. My mom was the most amazing person. I bet she was a guidance counselor, she helped everyone. I remember drug addicts would be asleep on our floor and I'd get up and we're loving them and she was an amazing person. The most emotionally intelligent person I've ever seen met in my life.

I mean amazing. And what she just did unconsciously was she wrote my dad's papers, she covered for him, she took care of everything, she painted the positive picture, all out of a very sincere heart of loving and holding the family together. Sound familiar to some of you? Now my dad was a pretty functioning alcoholic. He had a violent, violent temper that I saw on some occasions and I probably blocked out a number of others. But I remember when it got to where my mom couldn't manage it anymore and she did an intervention. Dysfunctional families require an intervention.

You don't slide out of them. Now I'd like to say that there was a lot of research and there was great counseling and a lot of people to help her. My mom was a very savvy, very smart person who understood life.

She took all these counseling courses and so let me just tell you, here's her intervention. My dad's name was Reb. It was Ralph but he went by Reb. Reb and I came in because I separated my parents a couple times when it felt like crazy, you know, and he was never violent towards my mom or anything like that but it just was scary. Reb, you've got 48 hours. You can have this bottle or me and this family. You make a decision.

We're done. My dad thought about it. He was a three and a half pack lucky strike guy. I mean he was trying to kill himself. But he looked at what he had, looked at that bottle. Did he go to counseling and figure out the deep root issues? Did he go and find what happened during the war? Was he trying to figure out how his self-esteem and losing his father might add to a Marine?

Marty and the kids or the bottle? I quit and he quit. After about three months, I wanted to give him a beer. It was just like, a good alcoholic's got to be way better than this. I mean the pain and the stuff wasn't getting sedated anymore and he went through seven tons of gum and a number of outbursts and later my father trusted Christ. And that still was a very long journey. Here's what you need to hear. Until someone intervened and helped him see the crossroads that he was on and forced him in that crisis to make a decision he, me, you, everyone and humanity will continue on the dysfunctional pathway that our original parents created by their sin.

They passed on to us in our heredity in Adam and we confirmed it by our behavior and our own personal sins. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and you've been listening to part one of Chip's message overcoming a dysfunctional family from our series Unstuck. Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. Pain, it's an unfortunate part of the human experience. Whether it's a broken promise, a dysfunctional family relationship, or prejudice, we've all had to deal with being hurt.

So what are we supposed to do when that heartache cripples us to our core? In this insightful series, Chip reveals the hope and restoration that Jesus promises. As he studies the book of Ephesians, Chip will remind us who we are, whose we are, and why our past pain doesn't have to define our futures. To learn more about this series, visit Well, our Bible teacher, Chip Ingram, is with me in studio now to share a quick word with all of you.

Chip? Thanks so much, Dave. Just before I come back and talk about some application for you in today's program, I just want to pause and thank those of you who are our monthly partners. You know, there's a significant group of people that each and every month, all various sizes, live monthly to Living on the Edge. And it is such a joy to know that there's stability and income that we know that's coming in that allows us to plan in really significant ways.

And if you're one of those, I just want to say praise God and thank you very much. It's an indication of your heart. It means that you're aligning with our mission, and I pray that God richly blesses you. Thanks Chip. Well, if you're already a financial partner, thank you. With your help, Living on the Edge is ministering to more people than ever.

But if you're benefiting from Chip's teaching and haven't taken that step yet, now would be a great time to join the team. To send a gift or to become a monthly partner, go to or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or visit App listeners, tap donate. And thanks for giving whatever the Lord leads you to give.

Well, Chip, let's get to your application that we promised. As we close today's program, we all kind of have to raise our hand and say, yes, I'm from a dysfunctional family. And that phrase has become very, very popular and reality shows seem to validate how dysfunctional we can really be. But on a more serious note, you know, no one's mom or dad was perfect. And the reason is not because their parents weren't perfect or the parents before them weren't perfect. The Bible is very clear. The reason is that our original parents dropped the ball. In fact, they far worse than dropped the ball. They violated very clearly God's agenda and God's plan and they rebelled. There was a coup on the planet.

Eve was deceived and then Adam with eyes wide open knew exactly what he was doing is wrong. And he said, no, to God, I'll run my life my way. I want to be like you. I'll be the center of the universe. I'm going to be in control. And the Bible calls that missing the mark. The Bible calls that a trespass. It just means you cross a line and we've all crossed lines, right? You know exactly what you're supposed to do. And even in your mind is something in your mind says, don't say anything. I mean, do not say anything right now. And then you find these words coming out of your mouth that are sharp and critical and painful. Or you've been in a situation that says, you know, you're something in your conscience says, do not go with those people. Do not click on to that show right now. Do not drink that next beer.

And then you do. And whatever it is, the Bible calls that sin. And I want to remind you, even before our next broadcast, that the cycle of destruction was broken. And it was broken because God loved you so much that Jesus being fully God died upon the cross and he atoned or covered for your sin.

He paid for them once and for all. And he broke you out of your dysfunctional family. If by faith you receive the forgiveness that he offers through his shed blood in resurrection.

I don't know where you're at, but let me tell you this. Your dysfunctional issues in your present life rooted in your past will never get transformed apart from a deep abiding saving relationship with Jesus Christ. God loves you.

He wants to break the cycle. Act on that today. You'll be glad you did.

Great stewardship. And before we go, if you want to learn more about what it means to be in a relationship with Jesus, let me encourage you to get our friend John Dickerson's book, Jesus Loves Me. You'll discover why Christ came to earth and what it looks like to follow him wholeheartedly. To get your hands on John's book, go to special offers on the Chip Ingram app or Well, thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Next time we'll continue Chip's series, Unstuck, from the book of Ephesians. I'm Dave Druey, and I hope you'll join us then.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-19 05:35:44 / 2024-01-19 05:47:12 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime