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What is a Family For?

The Principal's Blog
January 29, 2022

What is your family for?

Have you recently considered this question? If you have children–and I assume that most reading this do–what is your privilege and obligation toward them? What is the end goal of all of the provision, training, and care that you give for 18+ years? 

Maybe you or I haven’t recently articulated these exact questions aloud or even in our minds, but we’ve certainly considered them unconsciously. Whether it’s staying up with a sick child, changing a diaper, giving a reminder for the 23rd time, or setting an unpopular limit in your child’s life, I imagine that at some point you’ve wondered, “Am I making a difference?” if not “Is this worth it?” (Teachers, ask themselves the same questions, by the way). 

It’s good to be honest. It’s also good to find answers. 

Our community-read of the year, The Tech-Wise Family contains some of the best reminders and answers to these questions that I’ve read in recent years. Besides detailing alternatives to most families’ unregulated consumption of technology, the author Andy Crouch spends much more time diving in to what makes a family’s life tick, and what is important in helping each member of the family grow in wisdom and courage. 

I invite you to spend some time with me in Crouch’s chapter entitled, “Choosing Character,” through the following excerpts from pages 52-54: 

“I want to suggest a pretty radical idea about what family is for. 

Family is about the forming of persons. Being a person is a gift, like life itself–we are born as human beings made in the image of God. But while in one sense a person is simply what we are as human beings, we are also able to become–to grow in capacities that are only potentially present with us first. 

Family shapes us in countless ways. But I want to focus in this book on two crucial qualities that family forms in us. Family helps form us into persons who have acquired wisdom and courage. 

Wisdom is not just knowledge–mastering information about particular aspects of the world. Wisdom is understanding. It’s the kind of understanding, specifically, that guides action. It’s knowing, in a tremendously complex world, what the right thing to do is–what will be most honoring of our Creator and our fellow creatures. 

This is why, in the psalms and the proverbs of the Hebrew Bible, the fool is the one who doesn’t know God, doesn’t understand human beings, and doesn’t even really know himself…A fool can know a lot of things, but a fool doesn’t really know what it is to be a person… The fool may be well educated, but the fool does not understand. When he acts, the results are, sooner or later, hilarious and disastrous in equal measure. 

Two great things happen in families -– at least, families at their best. For one, we discover what fools we are. No matter how big your house, it’s not big enough to hide your foolishness from people who live with you day after day…In our families we see the consequences of all that misunderstanding. Our busyness, our laziness, our short tempers… living in a family is one long education in just how foolish we can be, children and adults alike. 

And yet a second amazing thing happens in families at their best. Our foolishness is seen and forgiven, and it is also seen and loved…

Somehow, in the discovery that we are great fools, we also begin to develop wisdom.

All the really important things we do as families involve developing wisdom.” 

* * * * * 

Wow. If you needed something equally compelling and convicting to consider today, this might be it. 

Crouch goes on through the remainder of the chapters in The Tech-Wise Family to give anecdotes, research, and principles on how to start wherever your family finds itself and to grow from there. All of this is written keeping in mind the two goals that Andy and his wife chose for their own family–growth in courage and wisdom–not a bad vision for any family. 

It’s a relatively quick read of a small book with big font and wide margins. Spend around $10–or even borrow a copy from the school’s front office–and join us in sharing ideas, verbiage, and new ways of living within our families and community. 

Peace of Christ, 

Mr. Byrd