Culture Challenge of the Week: What are Your Family Rules?

Posted: Jul 11, 2014 12:01 AM
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 heart has to be in the right place. But it's keeping our heart in that right state that usually ends up being 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, if you will. But sometimes that binding element is exactly what we need to get our hearts to stay where we need them to in order for them to grow properly.

I’m not advocating a legalistic lifestyle, but I am advocating for a structured one. Not structured in the form of schedules or formulas (though those aren’t necessarily bad), but structured by firm values and deep convictions, which are rooted in biblical truths.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the best examples the world has of a man who lived his life, both publicly and privately, according to his convictions. He was not a perfect man - and obviously made huge mistakes. (Dr. King's life, and the biblical accounts of other moral giants, paints a beautiful picture of how God continually uses imperfect people to advance His perfect will.) The difference Dr. King made was a tremendously positive one for untold millions, and he would have been the first to admit that his family played a pivotal role in keeping him grounded during those times when his heart was prone to wander.

His niece, Dr. 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 especially of the beliefs that shaped her family, her uncle and ultimately, our nation.

Specifically, she shares ten rules that were religiously observed in the King family. I don’t want to give too much away, but the first chapter in her book is about rule number one: Make Home a Priority. (If you’re at all familiar with my writing, you know that this theme tugs on my heart in a big way.) Two of the other rules that really resonate in my heart are Fight for Justice and Build the Beloved Community.

Beyond Dr. Alveda King’s family ties and personal history, she has many accomplishments that give her words power and credibility. Among many other titles, she is a former college professor, a former member of the Georgia State House of Representatives, a minister, a best selling author and uncompromising pro-life advocate. And, 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 first-hand account of what made Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a man in our lifetime who would shape our nation for good in ways so powerful that his impact is every bit as lasting as anyone else you can name in American history. I firmly believe that 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 the King's 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 Dr. Alveda King’s book as a guide to consider what your own family rules will be. Since the King family rules are classic- they have stood the test of time and have proven themselves in the midst of extreme pressure and strife - you might even consider adopting all of them as your own. We need to remind ourselves that such principles, when instituted within a family structure, have great potential to impact others not just through the individuals that compose the family, but through the family unit as a whole. Both niece and uncle are powerful testimonies of the power of the individual when backed and supported by a strong family, and how that impact is multiplied many times over because, as Aristotle observed and stated, "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 to your own life and family, 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 currently assume your family was living by? How do you want your family to be known?

If you are a Christian, 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. And 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 Dr. Alveda King, or to purchase a copy of King Rules: Ten Truths for You, Your Family, and Our Nation to Prosper, visit