We live in a world of perpetual outrage. We march for war and against war. We march for women and for babies. We block streets to save whales, turtles, and the polar ice cap. Long after we are too old to march or too sick to care about the turtles, we will realize too late that the most beautiful, subversive, world-changing thing we can do is start a family.
I started this blog. 16 years ago. My wife and I had a one-two-year-old and another boy on the way. I started this blog to help change, encourage, and shape kids ministry culture. It was my desire to help other leaders lead better. I had been a pastor for ten years and knew more than most, I thought. You know who taught me to lead and love. My wife and my kids. The more I look back, the more I realize the most subversive thing I did wasn’t start a blog when no one had one. As I look back on how my blog evolved, I see that it was me that changed and my family that changed me.
So often in business and in the church, we want to leave a dent in the universe when we are called to do leave homes and make families. We were never called to make a dent in the universe. We were mandated not to make a name but to fill the earth. In a world where the wrath of God is most clearly evident in the strife between parents and kids, and kids and parents. Build a home that is filled with sacrificial love. That is marked by daily dying so that from your death as a parent, the fallen wheat of your life will not produce bread for a day but a field of wheat for eternity.
We live in a culture that tries to make their name known. We fear dying because we don’t want to be forgotten. But Jesus said in John 12 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The fruit of your life will not be in the innovation you come up with, the money you leave, or the houses you have. But did you die to yourself? We have a leadership crisis on every level in every corporation and in every political party. Because no one wants to die, everyone wants to kill for position. Families do not prepare you for fame. They train you to die to yourself every day.
I grew up in the 80s, and the pastors in our circles said, “Take care of the church, and God will take care of your family.” I saw what that did to a generation of pastor’s kids and so many kids in the church as a result. Do not care for the church at the expense of your kids. Pastors be home for dinner. Treat your kids’ math problems they are having as important as someone in the churches marriage problem. Value your family and make sure they know they are loved and valued. Make your home a little church. Pastor your kids and the church.
The reason why Paul tells Timothy and Titus to look at the families of leaders is not because they are looking for perfection. They are looking for what the fruit of the life of the leader produces in the people in closest proximity. You reproduce who you are, not who you tell people you are. Your kids are the evidence of your faithfulness and your Christ-likeness. Not because their salvation depends on you but because their understanding of what self-sacrificial love looks like depends on you.
If you are young and married do not save money to have kids. You don’t make enough money and you will never have kids. Don’t wait to see the world. Don’t wait to buy a house. Start a family. You will never be ready. If you want to make a difference in the world. Start a family.
What does subversive parenting look like:
1. Ask your spouse how you can serve them today.
2. Tell your kids no.
3. Train your kids to pray in difficulty
4. Bring your kids to funerals
5. Read the Bible out loud to your kids.
6. Kiss your spouse in the kitchen with your kids walking by.
7. Find a church that expects your kids to be sinners, not perfect.
8. Find a church that confronts your kids in love.
9. Apologize to your kids when you have wronged them.
10. Train your kids to resolve conflict in a godly way.
11. Pick your kids friends for them when they are young.
12. When your kids walk into a room, put down your phone.
13. Eat dinner together.
14. Listen to your kids even when they are small.
15. Ask your kids questions.
16. Force your kids to read good books.
17. Encourage your kids to get married early.
18. Let your kids see that death is nothing to fear.
19. Tell your kids you are proud of them every day.
20. Tell your kids there are consequences for bad behavior, but you will never stop loving them.
Young people, school is important. I have three degrees, but families matter more. Have kids have lots of kids. Have so many kids that strangers count them as you walk by. Have so many kids people stop being excited for you and start saying Wow. Fill the earth. Raise a family. Proclaim the gospel to them in your words and in your sacrificial love for them daily. Die and be forgotten. There is nothing to fear and everything to gain.