More Than 15 Seconds: The Lasting Fame of Family

Humor me. For just a moment, consider the following “thought experiment:” After a chance encounter at your local grocery store, a world-famous talent scout says you have what it takes to be great and famous. Or maybe Warren Buffett calls and says he wants to make you wealthy. Maybe you have a dream in which God promises to make you great throughout the whole earth. OK, let’s go with the last one. What would you think if God promised you a great reward? Most people (like you and me) would go to the obvious: Money, fame, success.

But there was this guy. Named Abram. He thought family.

Remember from my last post, God has just said to Abram: “Your reward shall be very great.” Okay, so there’s your thought experiment. We’ve got a promise from a Person who can truly make it happen. Abram interprets this promise…how? What does he do with it?

“Abram said, ‘O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’ ” (Gen. 15:2-3)

Perhaps the Contemporary English Bible is more helpful: “What can you possibly give me, since I still have no children?”

Abram’s response may seem like a non sequitur. It isn’t. God could have been promising all kinds of crazy good stuff, right? In fact, He did. But Abram internalized the promise of his own greatness in terms of what he could produce in a son. His response reveals how he understood fame, greatness and wealth primarily through the lens of family. Let the significance of that hit you square in the chest. The God of the Universe personally promised to make this man into an entire nation. Kings would come from him. Everyone would be blessed through him. And Abram properly understood that nothing else made a flipping bit of sense—not money, fame, influence, connections, platform, power, etc.—unless he and his wife outlived themselves. Would a servant do? God reassures him in v. 4 that Eliezer just doesn’t fit the bill: “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body…”

In this, the entire family unit is validated. In other words, it’s not just about Abraham. It’s about Sarai, his wife. It’s about what God wants to establish through their marriage. (Neither of them fully understand this yet, as the episode with Hagar will reveal). Greatness is about more than 15 seconds of fame. True greatness is about establishing something that will extend beyond us generation after generation…after generation. It’s about a God who is so committed to redemption that he chose, and continues to choose, a Husband and Wife…to be Father and Mother…to a Child. This isn’t just how natural Israel began, it’s how the Eternal Kingdom grows and spreads. It’s why the family is the single-most assaulted demographic on planet Earth. Thankfully, God follows with a unilateral covenant to Abram to uphold His plan. He is personally committed, invested. So he makes sure the vision for it gets deep into the head of the family unit: Abram, the father. Men, that’s you. What’s your vision?

Abram learned from deprivation. The sorrow of growing old and childless only increased the value he placed on the extraordinary gift of children. But the time God started throwing His promises around, Abram clearly had his eye on the ball. If you want to impact the earth, if you want to move in the flow of God’s promises, recognize and embrace the pattern that has already been established. A Heavenly Father chose an earthly father to build an entire kingdom through whom the Messiah would come, why?—because this man valued children above all other “assets.” Fathers, you have no greater resource, no higher call, no more rewarding investment of time, no more important privilege, than to cultivate your relationship with your wife and kids. Paul called Abraham “the father of us all.” (Rom. 4:16). “In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations” (Rom. 4:18).

What are you believing for? Do you have vision for developing your financial investments over time? Great! But if you have greater vision for monetary assets than maximizing your emotional and relational investments in your children, you’ve missed it. If you are soaring in ministry while your children drown at home, you’ve missed it! Don’t settle for fame that lasts one generation—yours. Make an impact that will last long after you are gone.

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