DON’T PLAY BY THEIR RULES
I would like to pass on to you, one of the great insights into my life as a father, husband, and leader of my family. It is of extreme value to me and one of the primary reasons for my success as a father, husband, family leader, and provider. Here it is: Don’t play by their rules! I refused to play by the world’s rules for my life. This has specific, important implications, some of which I will articulate.
Bear in mind that when I began radically following Jesus Christ in 1975, very few people were doing the things I will share with you. They were seen as radical, outside the norm, strange, unwise, counterculture, and often ridiculed.
Some family members advised against them, some Christians advised against them, and we were belittled and ridiculed by some for doing them, but I was determined to live against the grain of American culture, to walk the path God was showing me to walk, and trust him with all my heart.
Here are some of the critical ways we did not play by their rules!
My wife and I made the decision that we would live our married lives according to the biblical roles and responsibilities laid out in Scripture. Keep in mind that Kathy and I were defying culture’s prevailing feminist dogma that dictates a wife and mother pursue her own career, finding her primary fulfillment outside the home. We were also defying their reality of a second income. We determined that no matter the sacrifices or how many hours I needed to work each week to provide for our needs, Kathy would stay home with our children and focus on our home, caring for her family and the raising and training of our children.
We were determined not to live for wealth and the acquisition of many nice things. We understood the American way of life most people live, including many Christians, is corrosive to sacrificial faith and a deep undistracted walk with God. We made use of primarily used, older things that were in good condition. We lived in situations that many would consider beneath them, less than desirable, or lacking essential amenities that others would insist on. Each decision in this regard God has greatly rewarded and blessed.
Never forget that this world’s system, especially in America, is determined to take as much of your money, money God has entrusted to you, as they possibly can, to addict you to their stuff. In fact, they are determined to enslave you. As the Bible says, the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. We are the greatest debtor nation in the history of the world! I refused and still refuse to play by their rules. I carefully choose used, older cars in good condition that we can easily afford, paying cash, and driving them as long as reasonably possible. For a couple our age, we own very few things compared to others our same age and stage in life. Even how and what we eat is strategically designed to keep us healthy, avoid the world’s junk, and keep our costs very low. We are determined to live as wisely, economically, and as frugally as we possibly can. This also enables us to be as generous as possible.
We decided long before it was hardly heard of, to home-educate our children. We took a lot of flak for this decision. In fact, it was illegal in Iowa at the time we started, to home-educate your children. We defied them, did it anyway, then when moving to Minnesota to follow God’s calling, believe it or not, in this very leftist state, it was legal! We refused to turn them over to those who would indoctrinate them into secular, anti-God ideologies. Kathy devoted herself to their character training, learning and education. That was her “career”. She excelled at it. She was our family’s MVP!
We disciplined and trained our children in a way that was biblical, loving, and taught by God in Scripture, but is ridiculed and slandered by the world, and against the law in some places and countries. Even today, few Christians practice Biblical discipline and training of their little children. All of our children greatly benefited from it and have thanked us for it.
Our family was not a democracy, it was a dad-ocracy under the Lordship of Christ! Meaning, I led our family. I didn’t do it perfectly, but I did do it with faith, submission to God, courage, strength, love, humility, God’s wisdom, servanthood, prayer, determination, and strategic planning. I put my whole heart into it, I held nothing back. I saw the leadership and shepherding of my family and providing and caring for my family as my most sacred responsibility.
These divine truths ring in my ears every day!
Romans 12:2 NASB
Do not be conformed to this world!
Mark 4:18-19 NLT
The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for nice things, so no crop is produced!
Mark 4:18-19 AMPC
Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word and it becomes fruitless!
For any of you reading this who would genuinely like insights with your finances, or wonder exactly what I have done in this area or the others, please don’t hesitate to write. I will do everything I can to help you not play by their rules!
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling