What is it that makes your family unique?
If someone were asked to describe your family, what would they say?
When your kids remember “home,” what thoughts will come to their minds?
Every day, whether purposefully or without proactive thought, we are building the legacy that will define our family. The activities in which we participate, the laughter we share, the vacations we take, the ways we serve, and how we worship our God has the potential to either define or destroy our family identity.
Clearly recognizing this truth will help us understand why it’s so vitally important to build strong family traditions and establish a clear family identity in order to ensure the long-term health of our family’s legacy. Without those two components, we simply trust the physical bonds of family to keep us unified and moving in the same direction. Unfortunately, too often those physical bonds are insufficient in providing the glue our families need to stay united and legacy focused.
But what’s the big deal about building a legacy, anyhow? Isn’t it enough to simple invest in our own immediate family?
Legacy building should be the goal of every Christian family!
All throughout scripture, we see how God used family units to tell the world about Him. As families became tribes, and then nations, their ability to tell the world about their God grew exponentially. Sometimes, those families did a fabulous job of representing God to the world. However, other times, because of fear, or a wrong self, (really family) focus, or just plain old sin they muddied the picture of God that they were presenting to their friends and neighbors.
It’s the same today! Sometimes, our families do a great job of representing God to our world. Sometimes, our devotion to the Living God shines through in everything we do and others are drawn to Him. However, other times, because of busyness, or family strife, or spiritual compromise we lose our ability to show Christ clearly through our words and actions.
A family, wholly committed to Christ and unified with one another, will provide a tremendous testimony of hope to a hurting watching world. The desperate need for that type of testimony makes it imperative that we carefully build our family identity. The world around us is familiar with families that simply coexist under one roof. They know exactly what that looks like! When we can show them what it looks like to live with one another in an understanding way, we will earn the right to share truth with them. When we can show them what it looks like to love one another, even when we’re tired, or grumpy, or just unlovable we will earn the right to minister to their needs.
Which brings us to the importance of traditions. Family traditions are those habitual activities that draw us together. Family traditions provide the “we always” security that our children need in order to be successful in those things that really matter…their relationship with God and with others.
When our children are little and the busyness of life leaves them unsettled and anxious, knowing that mom will read them a bedtime story just like she always does will bring them peace. When they can count on regular routines and the normalcy of we always brush our teeth, we always say our prayers, we always go to church, etc. they will feel secure within their family identity.
For small children, traditions really look like structure and routine. They provide the framework upon which our children build the foundation of who they are and how they fit into this world. What we see as boring and mundane, they see as peaceful and secure.
For teens, traditions are just as important, if not more so! Their “we always” will look like family jokes, family game nights, family service projects, family ministry choices, and traditional family meals and celebrations. Those repetitive, always-to-be-counted-on “we always’” will provide our teens with an environment of unconditional love and acceptance. When our teens are struggling with out of control emotions and hormones and relationships, knowing that they can come home and find that nothing’s changed will provide them with a safe haven from a suddenly confusing world.
Our homes provide a sanctuary where they can be reminded of who they are and to Whom they belong!
Those “we always” will establish a strong family identity, and even when they roll their eyes and push against the family boundaries, they will know where to come in order to find safety and acceptance. For young adults who make the devastating choice to rebel, an unbreakable family identity may be the bond that draws them back into fellowship with both their family and their God!
No, our families will never be perfect, but as we build family traditions and work hard to develop an unbreakable family identity, we will become vessels that are useable for the Lord Jesus Christ. Our homes, with their atmosphere of love and unity, will become havens for our friends and neighbors. When our families can transparently exhibit how we pick ourselves up and regroup after failure, (and don’t think for a moment we won’t have failures!) we will be a beacon of hope to other families dealing with their own painful failures.
Legacy building families are culture changers! Their legacy will build bridges to hurting souls, as well as constructing a family identity that is strong and unbreakable. How will you build your family’s legacy, today?