We’ve all heard it: “Your family has a profound impact on who you will become.” For some of you, this is good news. Your family was healthy, and you would be proud to turn out like them. For others, the response is more like, “I hope that is not a rule, because I don’t want it to be true.”
Rethinking Family Values
For me, seeing the value in my family history was a mysterious concept for a long time. For four generations, when people in my family got married, they broke their relationship with their parents. As a result, I thought family was only Dad, Mom and the kids. I didn’t spend time with grandparents, aunts or uncles. I heard other people talk about cousins, but I had no faces to attach to the vague concept.
The only question I could think to ask was, “Do I want to turn out like my parents?” Career-wise, I liked the question because my dad loved his job. In every other way, the answer was a resounding, “NO!” In my opinion, they yelled too much, isolated too much, were too hard on each other and lacked any spiritual sensitivity.
Links To The Past
At the same time, I noticed two consistent desires in my heart that needed little encouragement. The first was the desire to “tinker.” Every day since I was about 12 years old, I have looked for a project to work on. It could be a vehicle, a yard project, a building project or a repair. I have always been drawn to these types of projects, and I love coming up with innovative solutions for them.
The second is a fascination with God and his ways of life. I began a personal relationship with Jesus at 16 after watching “The Exorcist” (which motivated me to start reading the Bible), but I was curious about church even before then. The isolation of my family kept me away from church, but I was interested nonetheless.
For some reason, my dad started studying our family history a few years ago. He discovered two fascinating trends in our family history. There are a number of inventors and a collection of pastors. Apparently, there is a tinkering gene that runs through my family tree, which I have now seen passed down to all three of my sons. Also, there is a long-running interest in making ministry a significant part of life.
You, likewise, are part of a family with a unique history and a unique mix of trends and abilities. During your time on earth, you will produce something, influence someone or add something to life that is consistent with the way God has been working in your family system for a long time. As you discover the trends of God’s blessings in your family, you will gain a clearer vision of what God wants to accomplish in your life. As you cooperate with the way God works in your family, you will grow in your personal confidence.
A Legacy To Be Proud Of
Acts 7 contains one of the most succinct and profound description of Israel’s history. The history lesson was delivered by Stephen under very strenuous circumstances. The people around him were stirred up. He was seized and false witnesses spoke deceptively against him (Acts 6:8-15). Despite the adversity, Stephen was filled with supernatural confidence. Of course, the confidence was primarily based on a gift from God that equipped him to face this unusual situation. But, some of his confidence came from his understanding of how God works in his family’s history.
Stephen’s lineage includes the calling of Abraham, God’s faithfulness to Joseph, the miracles of Moses, the impatience of Aaron, the feats of Joshua and the wholehearted devotion of David. Stephen was part of a legacy of men who were empowered by God to stand strong and accomplish humanly impossible outcomes. Since God did it for those before him, he believed God would empower him also.
In similar fashion, God has been working in your family throughout history, and it is now your turn. You can gain clarity and confidence when you focus on how God works in your particular family. Here are some ways you can zero in on your family’s strengths:
- Make a list of the ways God works in your family system. (Skilled pursuits such as musicians, artists, leaders, caregivers, teachers, etc. are passed on from generation to generation, even when the current generation is not healthy.)
- Identify the ways you see the same skills showing up in your experience.
- Thank God for the ways he chose to bless your family.
It is now your turn! How will you carry out God’s blessings in your family?
You may also be interested in How Your Family History Factors Into A Christian Marriage