[e-Devotionals] 2000-10-18 - Family Traits

1 Kings 22:52 (NIV) He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he walked in the ways of his father and mother and in the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin.

My family has developed a great love of horses over the years. My wife showed horses in her youth. Our youngest daughter is showing, and my son is beginning to develop a great interest in riding. Even old dad here is preparing to start showing next year. I have been amazed at how the bloodlines of a horse affect its specialty. My horse Willie is a Reining horse. His family tree is full of Reiners. My wife's horse is a Western Pleasure horse and my daughter loves the Hunter Jumper type horse. From generation to generation, these horses pass along characteristics and traits that make them excel at different specialties. Along with good traits, less-desirable traits of the family tree are passed down. A skilled trainer can usually work through the objectionable and bring out the best in a horse. Each horse has a style, which describes its gait, the type of saddle worn etc. Some horses have started out English style and not done well. But with adjustments in their training, they have excelled at being Western style horses.

I have learned over the years that our own families learn in much the same way. Habits and traits are passed from dad and mom down to their children. Studies have shown that parents who were themselves abused while growing up, are more likely to abuse their own children. Divorce rates, drug and alcohol abuse and the like are seemingly passed down through the generations. The cycle never seems to end.

I have the greatest mom and dad in the world. My father passed along one trait that can either be positive or negative. He was the consummate workaholic when we were growing up, with a very driven personality that was channeled into work. His father before him was the same way and I suspect his father was, in turn, just following in the footsteps of his own dad. Even today in his retirement, I sometimes say, “Dad, you can slow down now.”

When my first child was born, it seemed to make my driven personality to succeed in the marketplace turn destructive. I was working early mornings and late nights, building businesses and doing what I thought was right. It was “passed” on to me. "Go as hard as you can, succeed at all costs and you win." I rationalized away my sinful neglect of my family by being a “bath-time and bedtime” only dad. Don’t get me wrong. I cherish those moments to this day. I miss the bedtime stories and putting the kids to bed. But I fell for that saying, “it is not the quantity of time but the quality of time that matters.” That is baloney, folks. Quantity times lead to quality time. I missed out on other things that I now regret. I have repented of those sins and now try to be more sensible with my time with my family. It amazes me how coming to work later and leaving earlier has not affected my business in the least. It has instead added a great sense of balance to my life.

So how do we break the cycle brought on by our less-desirable family traits? For me it was a long and slow process. It was the interception of the Holy Spirit in my life through family and friends, saying “David, you are missing out. You are going down the wrong road. Slow down.” My reaction to my family was, "don't you all want all this stuff that I am working for? Don't you like the house, the cars, the toys etc.?" Their reply cut to the core, "No, dad, we just want you."

I have said many times before, that when Christ intercepts our lives, we cannot remain the same. God will take us wherever we are, however we are and no matter what sins we have committed -- and will transform us into what He wants us to become. We simply somehow have to let Him take control of our lives. I am living proof that the cycle can be broken. My drivenness has been channeled into other areas, such as a steadfast determination not to let agendas interfere with family time. Drivenness gives me great passion for the Gospel, as it impels me to try to be the Christ-follower that I should be.

Are there areas in your life that need work? Do you find yourself thinking, "gee, I am becoming my mom or dad?" Maybe you are where I was, so wrapped up and running life at hyperspeed, that I did not realize my sinful ways. Join me in praying the prayer of the Psalmist below. Let’s get on the road of doing life right, life as God intends us to live it.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Father-Forgive us for our sins. Search our hearts and show us where You want us to be open to Your grace and love. Give us the wisdom, courage and strength to change. In Christ’s name, Amen.

David Massey

[email david] david@masseyre.com