I’ve never been much of a history guy. I’m always looking ahead rather than behind. But years ago, one of my business partners taught me this principle: “The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” I’ve found that, short of surrender to Jesus and the involvement of God in the heart, people don’t change much. They’ll continue to do what they’ve always done even if the outcome isn’t good. They’ll perpetuate ‘normal.’
Where do we get our way of looking at life . . . our view of normal?
I believe a lot of it comes from our heritage. The environment we grew up in. We automatically thought what our parents did and said was ‘normal.’ And they did what their parents did and thought that was ‘normal.’ The way our parents interacted at home, the traditions we honored, the rules and regulations . . . what was expected of us . . . all that defined ‘normal’ for us and we carry that ‘normal’ on to our homes and families.
What’s fascinating is not just the subtle impact our hereditary view of ‘normal’ has on our families but the momentum it carries. I’ve watched guys thoughtlessly but passionately demand their wives to do for them exactly what their moms did for their dads.
So here’s where I’m going. Let’s take an objective look at what ‘normal’ is. Let’s take the best from our heritage and ‘institutionalize’ it, but leave the crap behind. For my family, that meant . . .
- Commitment to honesty and always telling the truth
- Physical work to help out around the house and earn your own way
- Dinner around the table every night as a family
- Annual vacations together
- Active church involvement
- Staying married; making it work no matter what
To that, we added elements that weren’t there from our heritage . . .
- Daily devotionals, family talks and intentionally ‘discipling’ our kids
- Hugs, kisses and physical touch to demonstrate and affirm each other
- Encouragement and praise for demonstrated positive character traits and hard work
- Appropriate transparency and vulnerability with our kids so they could relate to us and know we were ‘real’
- “Wings” to explore career options, serve in different ministries, go on mission trips, do short term educational trips and projects, and visit strange and unique places
- Laughter, pranks, being silly and having fun
We can’t change what was ‘normal’ for us when we were kids, but we can change what’s ‘normal’ now. As you create the environment for your family, you’re setting a new ‘normal’ for your children, hopefully with enough momentum to sustain itself into future generations. What a great investment!
Tom and Stacey are friends committed to creating an exceptional ‘normal’ for their family. Here’s what their daughters found written on the family chalkboard the other morning . . .
Love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall, but above it all
Fix my eyes on You, on You!
(from for KING & COUNTRY – “Fix My Eyes”)
Prayer: Father, as the Fourth of July approaches, we turn our eyes to the Declaration of Independence and the heritage we were given by our forefathers. Please remind those who are called by Your name to pause this weekend to give thanks for those brave, selfless souls who made ‘normal’ so wonderful here in the USA. Amen.
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