Someone has said that if you want good health throughout life choose your parents very carefully. The genetic traits we inherit at conception play a major role in our physical well-being, and they are with us for life. So avoid getting stuck with a pool of crummy genes by making sure mom and dad come from healthy stock.

The truth is we can’t pick our parents. What you are and what you will be physically is in large measure determined by the combined strengths and weaknesses of a long line of ancestors, for better or worse. Exodus 20:5-6 says “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

On one hand, this statement bothers us. It seems harsh, even unfair. After all, we question, why should the innocent children and grandchildren suffer just because great-grandfather had a sin problem?

On the other hand, we can’t deny the reality it reflects. Those who were raised in the home of an alcoholic, for example, know all too well that their lives have been impacted by the sin of another. A high percentage of abused children end up abusing their own kids. Why? It doesn’t seem to make sense. But, as the Lord said on Mount Sinai, there are multi-generational impacts of sin. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are also multi-generational impacts of righteousness. Remember what the Lord said…“but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments”. Those who live responsible, good lives tend to instill the same in their children. Just as bad tends to breed more bad, good tends to breed more good. It may not seem fair, but it is a reality we cannot deny. A reality we call the legacy principle.

The Legacy Principle

What we do today will directly influence the multi-generational cycle of family traits, beliefs and actions – for good or bad.

We are all heavily influenced by multi-generational patterns, but none of us are victims to them. It is possible to break away from the bad and launch a new era of good for ourselves and future generations.

Heroic Dad Challenge #2: God calls every father to make heroic choices that will leverage the legacy principle for good rather than bad. Stop what you are doing right now to spend 30 seconds praying this simple prayer:

Dear God:

Thank you for giving me such an influential role in the life of NAME EACH CHILD. I recognize that what I do today will have lasting impacts in the lives of my children and grandchildren. Please give me the wisdom to make good decisions, the grace to avoid sinful patterns and the courage to overcome selfishness as a father.


Going Further:

Discover more ideas at the INTENTIONAL FATHERS page.