- - Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Culture challenge of the week: What are your family rules?

We all know that if we’re going to make a positive difference in the world, our hearts must be in the right place. But it’s keeping our hearts in that right state that becomes the biggest challenge.

If the lyrics “Bind my wandering heart to Thee” from “Come Thou Fount” have ever resonated in your heart like they have in mine, you know what I mean.

In our culture, we don’t particularly love the thought of rules. We tend to think of them as restrictive or binding. But sometimes that binding element is exactly what we need to get our hearts to stay where we need them to be.

I’m not advocating a legalistic lifestyle, but I am advocating a structured one — not with schedules or formulas, but with firm values and deep convictions rooted in biblical truths.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best examples of a man who lived his life, publicly and privately, according to his convictions. He was not a perfect man and obviously made huge mistakes. (King’s life and the biblical accounts of other moral giants paint a beautiful picture of how God continually uses imperfect people to advance his perfect will.)

The difference King made was tremendously positive for untold millions, and he would have been the first to acknowledge that his family played a pivotal role in keeping him grounded during those times when his heart was prone to wander.

His niece Alveda King has made it easy for us to share in the powerful legacy and priceless inheritance of the King family. Her new book, “King Rules,” is an account of memories and the beliefs that shaped her family, her uncle and, ultimately, our nation.

She shares 10 rules that were religiously observed in the King family. I don’t want to give away too much, but the first chapter is about Rule No. 1: Make home a priority. (If you’re familiar with my writing, you know this theme tugs on my heart in a big way.) Two other rules that resonate in my heart are those to fight for justice and to build the beloved community.

Beyond Alveda King’s family ties and personal history, she has many accomplishments that give her words power and credibility. She is a former college professor, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, a minister, a best-selling author and an uncompromising pro-life advocate. Her character is sterling: She is gentle, tough, wise and, above all, a true servant to others for the cause of Christ. I am very blessed to be able to call Alveda my friend.

I’m so grateful that she took the time to write this firsthand account of what made King a man who would shape our nation for good in ways so powerful that his impact is every bit as lasting as that of anyone else you can name in American history. I believe the insights she shares have tremendous potential to bless families and individuals all around the world for generations to come. If you incorporate the foundational principles of “King Rules” in your own home, you might even end up raising our nation’s next great moral leader.

How to save your family: Make them your own

Use Alveda King’s book as a guide to consider what your family rules will be. Since the King family’s rules have stood the test of time and have proved themselves in the midst of extreme pressure and strife, you might consider adopting all of them as your own. We need to remind ourselves that such principles instituted within a family have great potential to impact others not just through individual family members but through the family as a whole. Both niece and uncle are powerful testimonies of the power of the individual when backed and supported by a strong family. As Aristotle observed: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (But let’s not forget that the source of all good power is in our good and all-powerful God!)

In addition to considering how you can apply “King Rules,” I encourage you to spend time prayerfully considering what rules you would create or choose if you were without the guidance of her book.

What matters most to you? What principles do you believe are most important to shaping your children into the adults you would like to see them become? Or better yet (and perhaps more sobering), what rules would an outsider assume your family is living by? How do you want your family to be known?

You have the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit living inside you, waiting for you to call on him to help you examine your heart and your family’s heart and rededicate yourself to his will. Ask him to guide you and he will lead you to the truth, which will set you and your family free when you live according to it.

I pray that you will find rules to help you stay under his rule. As Psalm 72:6 says: “May the king’s rule be refreshing like spring rain on freshly cut grass, like the showers that water the earth.”

To learn more about Alveda King or to purchase a copy of “King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper” visit KingRulesbook.com.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at [email protected]

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