Where do you find the power to do what you know in your heart is right?
I was talking with Jason recently because he was upset with the way his son was acting. His 9-year-old was stubborn, disrespectful and obstinate. In his heart, he knew his son was acting out as he struggled with immature reactions to the social pressure around him. He also knew the best approach would be to patiently instruct his son while applying calm and deliberate discipline. Instead, he found himself criticizing his son and reacting in anger.
In his heart, he wanted to be supportive and strategic. In reality, his behavior was no better than his son’s. Why couldn’t his head and his heart line up?
Overcoming Our Inconsistencies
I don’t want to be too hard on Jason, because we all face the same struggle. Even the spiritually strong apostle Paul admitted, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Romans 7:18). I have often asked myself, “Where am I going to find the strength to actually do what I enthusiastically recommend to others?”
Overcoming the inconsistencies within us is a complex process, but there is a simple place to start. Your family name is a readily available source of strength. Your family name is more than just an identifier. Attached to your name are certain convictions, accomplishments, influence and choices. When habits are emotionally linked to your family name, you have more motivation to incorporate them into your life. When certain choices are attached to your name, you will find more clarity and confidence with those decisions. When certain ways of treating others are connected to your family name, you will find almost unexplainable power to actually treat people that way.
The Value Of Your Legacy
One of the strongest motivators for developing character in our personal lives is the impact it will have on our family name; we all have an innate desire for others to speak well of those we love. Ephesians 3:14-16 reminds us that our family name is a gift from God. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”
Acts 10:1-2 presents man who discovered the strength that results from a stellar family reputation. “At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.”
Jason decided to adjust his approach based on the example of Cornelius. He decided to start asking his son and himself, “When others hear our last name, what behaviors and attitudes do you hope come to mind? How do you hope they will describe you?”
Jason noticed his reactions toward his son began to soften almost immediately. He had a new sense of pride about their relationship and was more patient with this phase of growth. Over time, he noticed that his son seemed to like these questions and began to feel he was somehow more important because of the connection to their family name. The third thing he noticed was how easy it was to put unrealistic expectations on his son by leveraging the family name. The power of tying decisions to a family identity was obviously powerful and could create guilt as easily as inner strength.
His son didn’t start behaving better right away, but Jason was pleased with the strength he was able to harness. Pray for wisdom and begin incorporating the power of your family name today.
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