GENERATIONAL THINKING, PART ONE

Want to change a culture? Get married, have children, think generationally. The world has yet to see the impact of a group of families committed to living generationally. What’s that?

When we talk family, we think nuclear. Like the guy prayed: “Dear God. Bless me, my wife, our son, his wife, us four, no more.” When the Bible thinks family, it talks generations. Sin impacts four generations out (Ex. 20:5). And blessings accrue from one generation to the next.

Look at the staggering impact of the family of Jonathan Edwards during the founding of this country. He and his wife Sarah had eleven children. When an American educator traced their descendants 150 years out, their legacy included: 1 vice-president, 3 senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, and 100 missionaries. We are seeing an impact in this generation, though not as dramatic, in the Billy Graham family. What if thirty families chose to do this and succeeded? Or three thousand?

I have told my children: “Go farther than us. Then give it away to your children.” What if each successive generation is stronger than the last? By the fourth generation, children are stopping cancer cold, seeing things that we have dreamed of.

Psalm 112 says, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands. His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed” (1,2). What is “mighty” to the fourth power?

Scripture speaks of both physical and spiritual fathers and mothers who pass the baton to their children. A successful passing brings an acceleration of righteousness. What happened when Moses passed the baton to his spiritual son, Joshua? They took the land. And when Joshua passed it to—whom? No one. Read the book of Judges. Momentum was lost.

A discouraged Elijah was told to mentor his replacement. When Elisha received the mantle as Elijah rode to heaven, he cried out, “My father, my father.” Elisha doubled the miracle output of his spiritual father. And when Elisha passed the baton? He didn’t. Momentum was neutralized and sin abounded.

Certainly we would not see this principle applied when the Son of Man passed the baton to a group of unschooled common workers. In fact, they turned their world on its head. Jesus spoke about “greater works than these.” They did them. The world will take note when a group of parents agree to raise godly children who raise godly children who raise godly children.

Generational thinking is foreign to us but not to the Word of God:
“Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it” (Ps. 22:30,31).
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come” (Ps. 71:18).
“Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord” (Ps. 102:18).
The prophets made sure the faithful were mindful of this reality: “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” (Joel 1:3). There it is: four generations in one sentence! (Part II coming).

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