For years while I coached and while I observed our kids’ various teammates, I often observed that children demonstrated the same negative characteristics as their parents. When observing a disrespectful athlete, I was never surprised to find a parent who was equally or even more disrespectful. While it is by no means a rule or a self-fulfilling prophecy, there is no doubt that it is very difficult to break the cycle that is passed from parent to child.
Considering the generational cycle, I particularly love the story of King Josiah because it is a wonderful example of a young man who was not simply the product of his family of origin. Josiah was the son of King Amon and the grandson of King Manasseh, and both of them were described as being wicked kings of Judah. Manasseh was the king who was blamed for turning away from Yahweh, the true God. He adapted the Temple of God for adulterous worship. As for Amon, 20 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as his father Manasseh had done. 21 He followed completely the ways of his father, worshiping the idols his father had worshiped, and bowing down to them. 22 He forsook the Lord, the God of his ancestors, and did not walk in obedience to him. (2 Kings 21: 20-22). Surely this evil would again be passed on to their offspring.
But just when all seemed lost for God’s people, along comes the most unlikely hero, an eight-year-old boy. Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. (2 Kings 22: 1-2). (Note: the author of theses verses refers to Josiah as following the “ways of his father David”. It is interesting to note that Josiah was born sixteen generations after King David.)
Later, at only eighteen years of age, Josiah sent the secretary to organize to repair the temple of the Lord. While there they found the Book of the Law and they read it to the young King Josiah. He was so moved he tore his robes in distress. Josiah lamented: “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13b). Where did such a tender conscience come from, considering the wicked hardened hearts of his father and his grandfather?
There are many people who have come from very difficult families. In fact, you may come from a most difficult or even wicked family, but when you become a member of the family of God you are a new creation, and you are not defined by the human family from where you came. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5: 17). Memorize this scripture and recite it anytime you find yourself being drawn back to unhealthy roots, or if God calls you to encourage someone who feels they are trapped in a negative generational cycle. We are all “a new creation”, a son or daughter of a loving and righteous Father. You are now defined by Christ, not your past!