What values are running my family?

Pastor, author, and international conference speaker Paul David Tripp approaches the question of family values in a round-about way after being asked,

What is the biggest challenge facing the church today?


In response, Tripp issues a stirring challenge to families to examine deeply the values that shape their lives, arguing that the biggest challenge facing the church today:

is the insane busyness of western culture. We just load our schedules too much.

Then Trip goes on to target families in particular saying,

Your children don’t have to be expert in four sports. They don’t have to play three musical instruments. They don’t need to start studying for their SAT scores at eleven.

We’re crazy.

Maybe we need smaller houses and to drive lesser cars.

I say to families all the time, you need to constantly ask the question, “What set of values drives the schedule of our family?”

We’re too busy. And we’re too busy because we’ve bought the western culture dream of what the good life is and what success looks like…. That’s little kingdom stuff.

You have to assess your values and say, “We’re just going to live in a different way and in so doing free ourselves in all kinds of ways.”

What Tripp calls “the western culture dream” is not a “dream” at all; it’s a nightmare.

The western culture nightmare says we are defined by what we do. Our value increases in direct proportion to what we achieve in the visible tangible realm where the world measures success.

We are enslaved to the worldview of the man in Mark’s Gospel chapter ten who approached Jesus and asked,

Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mark 10:17)

Even though this man appears to be a genuine spiritual seeker, he still defines life in terms of his ability to do something. When Jesus challenges his system of values suggesting that to really follow the truth requires surrendering everything, the man’s true value system is revealed and

he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. (Mark 10:22)

There is no freedom when we locate our identity in what we possess, what we achieve, or in our ability to make an impact on the world.

We pack our schedules too full because we do not trust deeply in the inherent beauty and goodness of life just as it is. Jesus says to the frustrated rich man,

No one is good but God alone. (Mark 10:18)

Our problem is that we spend our lives running after “good” things that are not really good. The outcome of our pursuit of these illusory “good” things is pressure, tension, frustration, irritation, break down of community, and a loss of the awareness of God’s presence. It is a high price to pay.

When we shift our sense of identity away from anything external and locate our identity solely in the reality of God’s abiding presence in our lives, we are set free from the burden of needing to prove ourselves or demonstrate our value.

We may still genuinely want to become expert in four sports or learn three musical instruments, but if we do it will be with a sense of spaciousness and peace that comes when we have nothing left to prove and no need to establish a secure sense of identity in the external world.