Dysfuntional: not functioning properlymarked by impaired or abnormal functioning. characterized by abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction.

Does this describe your family, or how you grew up? Many of us today like to blame our past as why we respond to certain situations incorrectly, or struggle in certain areas. It is so easy to place the blame on our parents, our culture, and our circumstances. In so doing, we refuse to take on the fact that we alone can change our future, and be the one to break the family chain of unhealthy living.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

There once was a Judean king named Asa. His father was King Abijam, his grandfather was King Rehoboam, his great grandfather was King Solomon, and his great-great grandfather was King David.

As far as fatherly figures go, Asa would not have met David or likely Solomon. But he was heavily influenced by his father Abijam, who reigned for 3 years, and his grandfather Rehoboam, who reigned for 17 years. Both of these male figures in Asa’s life were considered evil in God’s eyes. They did not follow the Lord, and if they did so even a little, it was not whole-heartedly. It says they walked in the sins that their fathers did before them.

Now, enter King Asa’s mother, Maacah. Not only was Maacah his mom, she was also his grandmother. How? Because she was ‘with’ his dad Abijam, but also his grandfather Rehoboam! Perhaps she did this to maintain her ‘queen mother’ place in the kingdom.. Regardless, young King Asa had her removed from being queen mother because she had made an abominable image for Asherah, a cult god. Asa cut down her ungodly image and burned it at the Kidron brook.

Needless to say, young Asa did not have Godly parents or grandparents as positive examples to learn from! They didn’t teach him the Scriptures, or pray to the Lord regularly, or live a faithful, Godly lifestyle, or lead a kingdom that was wholly devoted to serving the Lord. So how in the world did the young man become as Scripture says, “one who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as David his (great-great grand) father had done”?

“to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:22-24

Asa’s dysfunctional family did not become his excuse. For some reason, he chose to serve the Lord, in spite of his terrible circumstances, and he did so very well. He was an excellent king, who reigned for 41 years. When he died, his son Jehoshaphat then became king. Asa’s example of faithfully serving the Lord and ruling his people well broke that family cycle of evil: Jehoshaphat walked in all the ways his father Asa did. King Jehoshaphat did what was right in the sight of the Lord.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2

Your circumstances may be quite different. Perhaps your family history is alcoholism, drugs, physical abuse, overeating, racism, or abandonment. Yes, these issues are not to be taken lightly, nor disregarded as things that do influence you in a negative, hurtful way. BUT, the good news is this: they do not have to define you nor your future. In Christ, you will find the courage and strength to overcome these dysfunctional problems, and break that cyclic chain that has been plaguing you and your family. If you choose to serve the Lord faithfully in spite of your history, or your family’s dysfunctions, or even your own past weaknesses, and seek Him for the strength to conquer these vices, you will experience and know a God-fought victory! This will result in the confidence to keep on going and trusting in the Lord. If you keep this faithful Godly cycle going, it will lead to your being a great example to your children, and their children, and so on.

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;”
Daniel 2:20-21

Break the generational dysfunction, and be the Godly change that leads the next generation to serve the Lord faithfully.

Food for thought: What area(s) in your family history have influenced you the most for good, and for bad? Talk about it. Pray about it.

Fun facts: Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are optimists of significant change, Generation X (1965-1980) is the bridge between analogue and digital, Millenials (1981-1996) are the digital beginners, Generation Z (1997-2012) are the world-wide revolutioners, and the newest group is Generation Alpha (2013-) who start learning digitally early on. They will take the whole world by storm.

Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Youth on Rocky River’s Edge