The Families of Christmas

Leadership is broken because leaders are unbroken

Christmas. With scheming fathers and scandalous mothers what kind of families can Christmas have? What else but DYS-FUNC-TION-AL?


Not all of these men and women were married to each other, it’s true, but, no matter who their mates were, what other kind of family could they have?

How could Abraham and Sarah have anything but a dysfunctional family, invaded as it was at Sarah’s invitation to Hagar, her handmaid, and Ishmael, Sarah’s surrogate son? What must it have been like for Abraham to send Ishmael away because of her irrational jealousy over Hagar and Ishmael and the threat she felt for her son, Isaac? Could any family be more dysfunctional than that?


Or what kind of a family could Judah have with his Canaanite wife, a woman he married against God’s direct command not to take Canaanite wives? That is how Tamar became his daughter-in-law and how he fathered Perez, who became part of Christ’s bloodline, a polluted bloodline at that, mixed with Canaanite and Moabite blood. What a mess that family was with his daughter-in-law dressing as a veiled prostitute, so Judah could not know who she was as he fathered her sons. You couldn’t define dysfunctional more clearly than with this family.


Now Ruth and Boaz are the storybook exception, the kinsman redeemer who paid the price for his relative in accordance with God’s direction. Boaz became the very picture of Christ’s act of redemption when He became our kinsman redeemer, and delivered us from separation from God to make us part of God’s family. Still the exception only proves the rule: dysfunctional people have dysfunctional families.


Look at David, the present absent father who would not discipline his children, whose family was torn apart because of the rape of one of his daughters by one of his sons—and he did nothing about it. That’s what led to Absalom’s rebellion and resulted in radical disrespect toward him from his children. And his decision to put one of his most loyal soldiers directly in harm’s way cost him the respect of his commanding general. David’s dysfunctional family leadership impacted all of his leadership, and he knew it.


And what can be said for Solomon with his 700 princess-wives and his 300 concubines who turned him into one of the most idolatrous men of his time and caused him to die with murderous intent in his heart? Dysfunctional!


But remember—these people were leaders! Dysfunctional leaders, obviously, but leaders just the same. God’s leaders, in fact.


So what’s the point of all of this?


Just this: if you have used your wife to advance yourself at great cost to her; it you have cheated and deceived to advance yourself at great cost to others; if you have had an immoral relationship and tried to deny it at great cost to your reputation; if you have worshipped Mammon or success or power instead of the true God at great cost to your heritage, you belong in the Christmas family. You belong in Christmas!


If you have used sex as power or if you have lived an immoral lifestyle or if you have come from the wrong side of the tracks and have no hope of a future or if you are a disrespected and unmentionable woman, you belong in the Christmas family. You belong in Christmas!


If you come from a dysfunctional family full of turmoil and disloyalty, lacking in discipline and respect, you belong in the Christmas family. You belong in Christmas!


You belong in the Christmas family the same way Abraham, Jacob, Judah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, David, the unmentionable one, and Solomon belong. You need what they needed: God’s grace. And you can have the grace they had because Christ came and gave us Christmas.


Come, unwrap the grace of Christmas and find out what it means to belong in Christmas.

From "The Families of Christmas" on Broken Leadership Blog is about changing the leadership conversation from what we are doing with our hands to what God is doing through our hearts.


Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.