This sentence should be familiar to all: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Two hundred and thirty years ago, our country’s founding fathers penned these famous words in the Declaration of Independence. That statement was their vision for the future of the United States of America. The path was set. Men would stain that path with their blood as they walked down it through the years to preserve those rights.
What can we learn from the vision that our Founding Fathers gave our country? I present two possibilities for consideration. First, that a vision is powerful and shapes those for whom it is intended. Second, that we need to be very careful what vision is presented because we will reap what we have sown.
I think few would argue with the fact that our country owns the vision of freedom and pursuit of happiness. The Founding Fathers’ words have had the power to impact the direction of a nation for over two hundred years.
What if the vision had been simply the pursuit of the Creator, Jesus Christ, and living for Him? How different our country would be today. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Instead of a pleasure-seeking, me-first, don’t-impede-my-freedom society, we would have one that is much closer to what the Bible presents as the way life should be.
The Creator, Who is acknowledged by our Founding Fathers to be the Source of these rights and blessings, is now being thrown out of every aspect of our nation. “Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). Even in churches, we hear the cry of “freedom in Christ” as the emphasis instead of servants of Christ. The focus is entertaining the “saints” rather than reaching a lost and dying world. “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
Dads, where are you leading your family? What is the roadmap on which you base your decisions? Some might say they base their family vision on the Bible and biblical principles. That is good, but it would be beneficial to condense your biblical vision down to something that is concise and understandable by the family. When you board an airplane and take your seat, they will soon announce the city where the plane is headed. We need to do that for our family so they have a clear picture of where they are going.
I have found a written vision statement to be important in staying on course. Times can be hectic with circumstances changing frequently. Having my vision for my family written down is much like having a roadmap with the route highlighted on it. Then when I find a road closed, we can detour around it and still keep our destination in sight. There have been times when I have inadvertently strayed from the path I have announced. Soon however, there were some in the family bringing the change to my attention and asking if we have a new direction. It wasn’t too difficult to realize that we were straying off course. Having the family in tune with the direction is a great help in following the right path.
A written vision for the family is good, but we must also make sure that the decisions that are being made are consistent with that vision. If decisions are contrary to Dad’s written vision, that is an indication that Dad’s true vision for the family is actually different from what is written down. Sadly, we encounter families with a great written or spoken vision, but the implemented vision is leading the family toward disaster. The family hears Dad say one thing, but in practice the opposite is true.
Either we will make choices that are consistent with a stated vision or contrary to it. If we are consistently making decisions contrary to our vision, the family sees us as a hypocrite. For a dad to lead a family in hypocrisy is dangerous to the souls of his children. R.A. Torrey had a comment on that which is worth including here.
“One of the most noted infidels of modern times claimed that it was the inconsistent living of his own father, who was a Baptist preacher, that first led him into infidelity. Whether his picture of his father’s character is true or not, or whether to defend his own infidelity he was guilty of gross misrepresentation of his own father, as I have heard it alleged that he was, I cannot say, but this I do know, that beyond a question in many instances the inconsistencies of professedly Christian parents have led their children into utter infidelity. Misrepresentation of Christianity by its professed disciples in their teachings, and especially in their lives, has done more to manufacture infidels than all the writings and speeches that all the Paines and Voltaires and Ingersolls ever gave to the world” (Torrey, R. A.. Talks to men about the Bible and the Christ of the Bible. [New York: F. H. Revell Co., 1904], Page 115).
Do we have a vision for our families that is consistent with the Bible, and are we living it out? We only have twenty years or so to disciple our children, and we must make those years count. A vision directs us as we disciple our children.
A word of caution is in order. The Holy Spirit is our guide as we follow the Lord Jesus in obedience to His Word. A vision isn’t a set of rules that we religiously follow. It is just an overview of the direction we are headed. It isn’t about following rules, standards, and principles, but following Jesus. He will lead us in harmony with His Word.
A family vision is powerful. Dads, what sort of vision have you given your family? Are you leading them consistently with it?