Focus on Family First
The following is a Memo sent from the Office of the Global CEO to all The HuD Group members, associates and partners worldwide through the various country CEOs and will be of great benefit to anyone who wants to be inspired and empowered to fulfill their God-given purpose and reach their full potential.
First of all learn to put your religion into practice by caring for your own family
(1 Timothy 5:8)
Hands up; hands down
It was the last-but-one day in November. What a delight to see the whole family waiting for me at the Pierre Trudeau international airport in Montreal—it was a surprise! Considering that I had flown over 130,000 miles on 63 flights that year alone, it would be the exception that my family would be at the airport to pick me. I had no idea Anyele and the cubs were planning to be there. My heart was deeply touched. That was upon my last overseas trip for the year 2016. The excitement was palpable.
Then I heard from my dear wife that our older daughter had said in her excitement that I was coming home that day, “I’m so happy Daddy is coming to visit. I hope he stays for Christmas.” Visit? Ouch!
Although I had for months felt a deep impression on my heart that something along the lines of family was to be our overarching 2017 theme for The HuD Group globally—including hints from observations I had made of the lives of many young professionals in our circles—that profound statement ‘out of the mouth of babes’ was the final nail.
Out there or right here?
There are seven spheres (‘mountains’ or ‘pillars’) that shape any culture and society. Somehow in our quest to ‘change the world’, ‘impact society’ ‘make a difference’ or any other such parlance people normally use to express our desire to be significant there is a tendency to focus on any and every one of these spheres except the one which should be first and foremost—FAMILY. After all, everyone is born into one (no matter how atypical or even dysfunctional) and everyone has access to one. While becoming president to affect the course of a nation may be farfetched for the average Joe, one’s family is right within their circle of influence.
It is not an overstretched metaphor that the family is the cell (basic functional unit), of Church and society. Just like a disease process in the body is traceable all the way down to the cellular level so can the ills in any society. Think of cancer for a moment. Do you realize that cancer basically just means that ‘ordinary’ cells in a part of one’s body decide to go bonkers leading to an ‘extraordinary’ pathology which in advanced stages affect the whole being, even leading to eventual demise?
So why do we want to impact Religion out there, Education out there, Government out there, Media out there, Arts & Entertainment out there, and Business out there when Family is right where we are, right within our grasp, right now?
In the HuD Group, we teach how to discover and fulfill one’s God-given purpose. Try as we may, we may be “sincerely wrong” in our feeling and conviction that our Grand Designer has called us to any of these six afore-mentioned spheres of influence but we cannot be wrong that we are called to our Families! After all, we did not choose our parents or siblings—God who formed us and called us did. Who else is better qualified and uniquely called to influence the children from your own loins? When God has joined two together in the covenant of marriage how could there be an iota of doubt that the other covenant partner is your lifetime ministry?
When it dawned on me that I very well could be wrong that I’ve been called to youth or international students or to write or whatever I’m hotly pursuing globally now but I cannot be wrong that I’ve been called to Anyele and my four children (so far) I enshrined the following in my personal mission statement: “My Queen and cubs are my first and primary protégés. … The proof of my love for my wife and children is my investment of quality TIME and substantial RESOURCES in their lives. Seeing all of these family commitments as ministry, I pledge to honour my parents as well and make myself available and accessible to my siblings.”
“He will direct his children and his household after him”
It was E.M. Bounds who said, “Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. ”” Again in The HuD Group we believe in ‘ONE Power’—the power of one person to change the world. Throughout Scripture when God has wanted to do anything significant on Earth he’s sought “a man” (male or female). Then, his/her family. In the first dozen chapters of the Bible alone think of Adam, Noah, Abraham…
In fact, do you remember why—apart from pure grace in election—God chose Abraham in particular when He wanted someone who He could partner with for global transformation?
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”” (Genesis 18:19, NIV)
From his immediate family, Abraham would later influence the whole earth with his progeny—including being the Patriarch of all three major world religions that jostle for Jerusalem as their ‘headquarters.’
Today, in the places of the world where the church is growing fastest it is partly because the Gospel is spreading along family lines and whole households are being saved and baptized. There isn’t a more rapid way to see the whole Earth filled with the glory of the knowledge of God. This is what Paul and Silas had in mind when the responded to the Roman jailer: ““…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.” (Acts 16:31-34, NIV)
God’s method is men—(s)he and all their household. So important is family in God’s scheme of things that he rubbishes our so-called faith or religious fervour if first our own families are not well taken care of and says the atheist is better of! “But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NLT)
FAMILY AS CHURCH
“As for me and my family”
Thousands of years ago Joshua got the idea right. That ministry was first in here with family before out there, that God’s method was first one man and his/her family, thus his powerful statement to the rest of the nation of Israel:
“But if you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, NLT)
One day it dawned on me that my family IS church. What is church? Is it not where two or three are gathered in His name? (Matthew 18:20) Or as Neil Cole beautifully put it, church is “The presence of Jesus among his people called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet.”
Then I asked myself, why I was more interested in my Chinese congregation or The HuD Group or International Student Ministry than the Perbi family? That was about two years ago. I set out a long-term “Fellowship” goal thus: “See and treat my nuclear family as the CHURCH that they are!
–> Intercede for them FIRST
–> Apply all ‘one another’ scriptures to them FIRST
–> Not do/say anything nice to anyone without Naa and cubs FIRST.”
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Proto people in pleasing God pronto
I know we care about family in The HuD Group. But do we care about family too; or family first. When all is said and all is done then we give family the crumbs or when family is fully well taken care of and then the rest of the world gets the remainder? In the HuD Group we believe in the Proto Principle—that in all your getting get God first (the first and foremost commandment according to Jesus Christ). However, when it comes to loving people (the second commandment), is our family our Proto People or the rest of the world is?
Family first pleases God most. For example, the young pastor in his late teens was admonished by his mentor thus: “…if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.” (1 Timothy 5:8, NIV) The New Living Translation begins the verse this way, that your“…first responsibility is to show godliness at home…”
Easier said than done. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I do well to keep family first; most of the time I fail. It still beats my mind why we tend to be more concerned about strangers and ‘the whole world’ than members of our own household!
So as we focus on family first—not just family too—in 2017 what are you going to do differently after this paradigm shift? Whatever tactics, strategies and habits you take on remember that the proof of how well you’re doing in putting family first is the measure of attention, energy, time and money you’re investing in your own family.
I hope to share with you some of my SMART goals and practices for my family this year and look forward to learning from your best practices too!
Your number one calling is to your God-given family till Christ returns or calls you Home. Yes Home, to the ultimate family Person, “our Father who art in Heaven.”
So help us God! Amen!
Dr. Yaw Perbi