Driving south from Leavenworth on Highway 7, which is a divided four-lane road with a speed limit of sixty-five miles per hour, I normally expect to see something that I would rather not. Due to the small town nature of Leavenworth, you often don’t have the big-city, fast flowing traffic. You will have some that drive the limit and others who don’t. What is disappointing and quite common is to find a fifty-five-miles-per-hour driver happy and content in the left lane leading a long line of cars who would really prefer to be driving sixty-five-miles-per-hour.
I’ve often wondered what goes through a slow, left-lane driver’s mind? Doesn’t he see the line of cars behind him? Doesn’t he care that it is illegal? Does he have any consideration for others? Is he taking pleasure in keeping others back?
Do we deeply desire to leave a godly legacy? Do we yearn for children who are dynamic followers of Jesus Christ? If so, what price are we willing to pay? If the answer is “everything!” that is the right answer. Satan will bring along compromises to derail us from raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). A major tactic of his is to cause Dad to be the hindrance to the family’s growth—in essence being a slow, spiritual left-lane driver.
I’ve seen it often where Dad is the one who isn’t growing spiritually and has no (obvious or expressed) interest to even though as the head of the family, he is the one to be the leader. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). Sadly, the one in front is no longer a “leader” if he becomes a spiritual hindrance, just like the left-lane drivers who keep others from advancing.
Assuming the slow left-lane driver doesn’t realize he is a hindrance, how do we know if we are the ones holding back our families’ spiritual growth? First, I would encourage you not to trust your feelings in this. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Since the heart is deceitful above all things, saying we don’t feel like we are hindering our family is like asking a liar his opinion as to whether he is a liar.
Therefore the best way to determine whether we are a spiritual left-lane driver is to ask those we might be slowing down. I suggest the first one to speak with is your wife. She will have a great vantage point and usually have some thoughts on the matter. Has she had unfulfilled spiritual desires for the family? Is she being spiritually encouraged by you? Is she being challenged by your spiritual walk? Next you can go to your children and begin asking them questions like the ones you have asked your wife. Have any of the children expressed disappointment about your level of spirituality? There were times when I have asked these kinds of questions of my family, and even though I didn’t always enjoy their responses, God used their feedback to convict me.
With conviction needs to come action. When the Lord points out where we are hindrances to spiritual growth in our families rather than being the leaders God desires us to be, we begin by repenting. Then we cry out to the Lord to help us make the necessary changes. We go to the Word and study areas that will be instrumental in the new direction. We ask our families to hold us accountable for the steps we are taking.
I wonder if another hindrance to many dads today being a spiritual leader of the family is not wanting to be too extreme in their Christian walk because they consider some Christians to be fanatical about Jesus. On the other hand, dads also don’t want to be spiritually cold or to be seen as lost. The natural tendency is then to want to cluster in the middle where they would not be seen as weird, hot, on-fire believers nor as cold, faithless unbelievers. Therefore many appear to be content to be lukewarm. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16). Regardless, of whether it is uncomfortable or not, we need to be the ones in our family who are exuberant as we follow Jesus so that we can lead our children into a dynamic godly legacy.
Jesus will never direct a person down the wide easy path. It will always be the strait and narrow one. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). The road that Jesus takes us along will not be popular. If we want a lot of company and fellowship in this life, we would most likely have to walk the wide path.
As we continue to focus on how we can have a godly legacy, we must choose not to be the slow left-lane driver who holds others back, especially when it is our children who are being spiritually hindered. Instead, in our families, we will be the left-lane driver, who moves into that lane when it is time to pass, keeps his speed up, and then returns to the right lane. He is leading his family by setting the example with a heart fully engaged on the Lord Jesus Christ. He won’t be content to stay in the comfortable middle but rather is pressing on to his destination, which includes that godly legacy. “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).
Next month we will conclude this series on a godly legacy.