By Dr. Shannon Hogan
How do you define the word family? Maybe you never defined this term. Let’s do it now. Take a moment to write out your definition of family. Your definition of family is the blueprint of how you will either succeed or fail at building the future of your family. Like a builder who begins the construction of a house with a set of blueprints, we must also do the same. We must take the time to consider the importance of our definition of a family, which usually stems from culture; because how we define family will be how we live as a family.
The reason why this is so important is because increasing our Gospel Footprint is sometimes neglected in our closest contexts, namely, our own families. We can forget that we not only have the responsibility to our loved ones, but also that a family can have a purpose and a mission to bring light to the community and to future generations. Our definition of family matters immensely because it shapes the way that we minister to and with our spouse and children.
Here is my definition of family. My family, which consists of my wife and six children, is defined as a purposeful, God-ordained team put together to serve God, each other, and our fellow man. The purpose for this definition is to inform my children that they need to personally know Jesus, serve Him, participate in the family, and live a servant lifestyle, experiencing struggles and joys as a family and alone, so they can share these truths with their children. If I live true to this definition and our purpose, the outcome of our family should be God-centered, family-focused, and others-driven.
If you were to join our family for a short-time, you will find out that we are not perfect, but we have learned through struggles and joys the principles and importance of reading Scripture alone and together, praying alone and together, serving our children and siblings alone and together, and loving others alone and together. We have learned as a family that we are in this together, but God has asked us to have a personal relationship with Him. In Deuteronomy 11, the author makes mention of what we should always keep, “Therefore, love the Lord your God and always keep His mandate and His statutes, ordinances, and commands.”
As a father, I must make certain I keep the Lord’s commands and obey Him; however, the purpose of this is found in the next verse, “You must understand today that it is not your children who experienced or saw the discipline of the Lord your God…” God is speaking to the older generation, not the children, the children did not experience what the older men and women experienced; therefore, God knew it was important for the older generation to share the truths of the past. In verse 18 it states, “You shall therefore lay us these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
The ultimate purpose of a family is to teach the principles of God to the next generation. We can do that when we are serving God, serving our family, or serving others. If we demonstrate and discuss the truths about God’s Word, the next generations will continue to carry the torch of the Word of God. As a family we must talk together, walk together, rest together, and sit together.
Here are some ways you can start:
- Sit down as a family and define your definition of family. Do it as a couple first and then with your children. Let them participate in this journey with you.
- Tell them why you are doing this. After you establish your definition of a family, begin to set goals as to how you want to serve and minister together.
- Practice it! Practical application will help solidify the value of what you did and the practicality for your children to do it again even when you are not around.