Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Families aren't failing

Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.  Isaiah 51:1-2
Family is a weird thing. Family members don't mean to get on your nerves.  They don't even mean to be your family, they just are. You did not choose them but they did not choose you either. Either way, you are traveling through life together and share a common bond.
Families aren't failing; we are failing the family.
We have been taught that independence is strength and that families are temporary places for preparation for real living, and that maybe once in a while we can get together as a family or when a relative dies.  We have not learned the skill of building families with purpose as we grow through life, of “re-familying” when the family is tom apart, or learned how to make our family life the number one priority in our interpretation of our world.  Intentional building of a family legacy can help.
Four Ways to Build a Family Legacy:
       Clarify Values - As a family, set aside time to talk about and identify your most important values. Values are deeply held personal beliefs, desires and ideals. They are a filter for perceiving the world and acting in it.  Values determine decisions and behavior.
       Create an Ethical Atmosphere - Pay attention to the content of what you and your children hear, read, watch and do. Ethics are principles that define right and wrong. Ethics suggest how an individual should behave. They reveal what is right or appropriate, regardless of personal values.
       Lead by Example - According to the Josephson Institute of Ethics, Everything you say and do, and all that you allow to be said and done in your presence ... reinforces or undermines the credibility of your messages about the importance of good character.
       Tell StoriesTell children about family members and role models who shaped your life.  Discuss historical figures who lived ethical lives.  Tell them about your family heritage and lineage.  Family stories are powerful instruments of passing on values, identity and faith.  Has God pulled you out of the pit?  Has God ever met a financial need for you?  Tell the stories to your children!  We take the “God events” in our lives for granted, but our children will lose the blessing of seeing the Hand of God through our stories unless we choose to pass them down. Who we are is largely defined by the experiences we have had and how we understand those experiences. Families that share stories, stories about parents and grandparents, about triumphs and failures, provide powerful models for children. Parents tell these stories to teach their children life lessons

We have been talking about leaving something behind for eternity, something that will last, more than just a memory, an etched gravestone, or a few treasured family photos. We call that which we leave behind a legacy.  One of the most important responsibilities as a parent is to leave a legacy that lasts; to make your life count for something more than the possessions you accumulate; to live in such a way that this world is changed because you touched someone’s life. You cannot ignore or dismiss the impact of your legacy. What kind of legacy you want to leave is worth taking some time to think about.
We are a continuum. Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values, so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead to our children and their children. And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.   Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas

Scripture to Claim:
For you have heard my vows, O God; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.  Psalm 61:5 

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