As a little girl, when I wasn't worried about the supposed burglar who, I was certain, was trying to climb in my window, I was plagued by deep thoughts as I fell asleep each night. I'd wonder about God. I'd wonder about life. And death. And I'd wonder about the big questions like "Why am I here?" (I know. I've got issues.) Many nights, I'd stare at the pink flowers on my wallpaper, winding their way up to the ceiling, and simply wonder.
Have you ever wondered why you’re here? Not just in that big, cosmic sense, although that’s a good question too, but in the sense of why are we here as a family? Why is this particular collection of people put together under one roof?
I mean, families are pretty messy! Kids have different personalities, different needs, different challenges. Why has God brought this particular combination of people together to create what we call “our family”?
In our family, we are fascinated with theories about personality—probably because we’re all so different. Out of the five of us, only two share a Meyers-Briggs personality type. Lately we’ve learned a little about the Enneagram, and we discovered that all five of us have different Enneagram numbers.
Those differences sure do make for some interesting family dynamics!
For instance, we're all fairly expressive, and sometimes we have some passionate discussions around the kitchen table. Some of us are stubborn. Some are more sensitive. Some are more passionate about social justice issues while others are more concerned with stewardship. Each of my daughters has a different academic interest, and all three are working or headed toward different types of professions. I could go on and on!
I’m sure if you thought about your own family dynamics or the challenges of some of your children, you would quickly realize what makes you unique, too. This just goes to show that parenting by formula doesn’t work—there are just too many variables.
So, if we’re all so different, could there possibly be only one answer to the question of why are we here? Is God’s purpose for my family the same as God’s purpose for yours?
Well, yes and no.
Because we are different, God uses our unique gifts and challenges within our family in many ways. Our kids weren’t athletic, so sports weren’t a big thing for us. But others use sports to help spread the message of Jesus. God uses each family uniquely, because of and in spite of our differences. I think those differences should be celebrated!
But there is one main answer to the question about why we’re here—why God has put these people with these personalities and these unique gifts together--and the answer can be found in His word.
In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says, “Go therefore and make disciples.” Sometimes people understand that to mean that we are to go to the ends of the earth to find and make disciples, to tell others about Jesus. In other words, to be a missionary. And that’s right, in a way.
But we don't always have to go to the ends of the earth to make disciples.
If you’re a parent, your mission field is right under your nose.
If someone had told me when I first had kids that my primary job was to make disciples, I would have laughed. I’m just not that spiritual. But discipleship doesn’t have to be hard or overly-spiritual, it just has to be intentional. It simply means pointing our kids to Jesus every day--teaching them what it means to follow Christ into their schools, their college, even adulthood. Because isn’t that what we’re trying to do—raise adults who also want to follow Jesus?
Listen, our kids won’t live with us forever, so we need to prepare them with the tools they need to go out into the world and make a difference. What are those tools? Spiritual disciplines or values like those I outline in my book. Things like self-discipline, truthfulness, kindness, a sense of cultural awareness that leads to love for others. But first, we’ve got to be pointing our kids to Jesus, every day.
Philippians 2:15 tells us that we are to “be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
Listen, I don’t think there’s any debate about the kind of world we live in. It’s crooked. It’s twisted. Big time. But this is why we’re here! We’re here to shine the light of Jesus into our dark, dark world.
The world needs Christian families to show the path to true life, a life lived with Jesus.
THAT is why we’re here.