In this four part series, I’ll be posting a recent sermon that I delivered entitled, “Family Matters.”
Title: Family Matters
Key Verse: Proverbs 22:6
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Lord, may you be present in this message and in the reflection that results from it. I ask that you bless this time to our continued walk with you, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.
Family matters. Each of us can relate with that. When we look at someone’s success or failure, we tend to look at the influences that have defined that person. And first and foremost on that list is the impact that family has had on an individual.
I read an article this past week in the Hamilton Spectator about a guy named Jesse Lumsden. He’s a football player for the Hamilton Ticats. His dad was a football player as well and the article went into great depth about how Jesse grew up in a family surrounded by football. The article provides a great deal of insight into the years of football influence that went from father to son. Thus, it’s no surprise that Jesse grew up to be a football player. And he’s turning into a pretty good one, at that. His father has had a tremendous impact on Jesse’s direction in life.
Look at others as well… I love biography books. Augustine, Billy Graham… They all point to the impact that their childhood had on them. I’ve been reading Bill Clinton’s autobiography, entitled “My Life”, and in it, Bill spends a great deal of time highlighting the influences from his upbringing and how they affected his policies and decisions throughout his life, including how they influenced his policy decisions as president.
There’s no denying that family, or lack thereof, is perhaps the single most important influencer that we’re likely to have in our lives.
What is a family?
Family can mean different things to different people. Traditionally, we’re talking about mom, dad and a couple of kids. But families come in plenty of shapes and sizes. There are single parent families. Some families consist of two sets of parents. Other families have no parents at all. Some athletes refer to their teammates as their family. Soldiers refer to their comrades as their family.
Jesus expands the meaning of family further when he says:
Mark 3:35: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
So we have a pretty wide definition of family going on here. Family, loosely termed, could be a group of like people that rely on one another as part of a team. In a more traditional definition, family consists of parents and children. For the sake of my message today, I am going to focus on the traditional family situation, but the core of my message could just as easily apply to other types of “family” situations as well.
Within the family, there is tremendous opportunity. As parents, we all know the responsibility that comes with raising kids. I’ve got two little ones at home. Noah and Katie. Noah’s almost two. Katie’s coming up on four months old. I love them both more than I ever thought possible. Five years ago, there is no way I was able to comprehend the deep level of love that I feel today for them. It’s crazy. It’s so great.
I want to share a story of something really touching that happened this week with my family:
The other night, Julie, Noah, Katie and I were going out for dinner. We were all in the car and we were driving. Noah, in his tiny little two year old voice, from the backseat, excitedly said, “we’re going out all together.” We hear this from him at home when we’re together as well. “We’re doing this all together.” He’s also started saying, “We’re doing this as a family.” They’re such great statements. He gets so excited when we’re doing things “all together” “as a family”. He recognizes when we’re together as a family and he announces it. He’s only two and he’s already recognizing the importance of doing things “all together” “as a family”. There’s something innate in him that recognizes and yearns for that time together.
Sociologists have long thought that family dynamics play an extremely influential role in one’s personality later in life. Several factors play an important role in childhood development, including number of parents present, birth order, gender, parenting styles and birth order of the parents. These and many other factors all contribute to the experience that a child has in the home.
To most of us that grew up in a traditional family, this doesn’t sound like a big deal. But when you look back and start reflecting on your childhood within the context of these factors, you start to recognize the impact that these factors play. Gender is huge… girls and boys are typically encouraged to do certain gender specific activities.
Birth order’s another one… how many older siblings here today still feel a nagging feeling that your younger brother or sister is getting away with something that they shouldn’t be?
And how many younger siblings feel that their older brothers or sisters are too bossy and domineering?
Last year, in our Christian Parenting class, we spent a few classes discussing these factors. We found that these factors were present in many families. And we also realized that while we might be able to ease some of the effects of these factors, it isn’t always possible to remove these factors entirely. And really… would we want to? These factors make us who we are.
And really… it’s in our best interest to have happy healthy families. Remember that today’s children will be tomorrow’s parents, teachers and leaders. Strong, healthy families now will ensure strong, healthy leaders for tomorrow. Investing now will certainly pay off in the future.
So what can we do to make strong families? There are plenty of recipes for healthy families. I’ve boiled down a ton of research into three buckets.
Coming up next: The 1st Building Block of a Happy Family.