In generations past there was a clear family hierarchy. The burdens of family values, success, and mission rested with a single person. The clan knew where everyone stood in relationship to the leader. While the burden might appear heavy the most successful families made it light by a willing shared sense of collective ownership and accountability. In today’s fragmented and individualistic society the weight of the patriarch is pushed to those who have yet to learn how to bear and share. This need not be our reality however we must first understand our role in being a servant leader and intercessor.
With the flood of generation ending disease like AIDS and the ease of transcontinental migration the breakup of family clans was inevitable. Even before the obvious leaps in air-travel, my father’s family was separated by large distances for decades. The role of the family patriarch was at best influential with little day to day accountability for keeping the family together. In more recent times this separation has become the norm not the exception. People grow up as smaller and smaller family units. Society seems intent on accelerating the independence and isolation through behavior, invention, and placement of values.
In and of itself this change is neither positive nor negative; yet it does present a key leadership challenge. In the past a limited number of family leaders were nurtured and mentored by their predecessors, roles were known well in advance. Today family leaders are discovering their responsibilities, often too late in the lives of their children and partners.
My advice is simple and direct. To each involved with others I give this challenge. Follow Joel’s advice to the priests of his time for our role is ultimately a relationship-priesthood. “Between Sanctuary entrance and altar, let the priests, God's servants, weep tears of repentance. Let them intercede: “Have mercy, God, on your people! Don't abandon your heritage to contempt. Don't let the pagans take over and rule them and sneer, 'And so where is this God of theirs?'”” (Joel 2.17)
Lives rest in our heart and actions.