Summary: Twenty church families from different backgrounds and situations were surveyed to discover their secrets of familial success.

Ten Habits of Highly Successful Families

Joshua 24:15

by David O. Dykes


Families are certainly different today than they were 25 years ago. I heard the funny story about a man who rushed into a toy store late one evening to buy a Barbie doll for his daughter who had a birthday the next morning. The saleslady said, “Well, you have several to choose from. This is the Tennis Barbie; it’s $20. The Ballet Barbie and the Beach Barbie are $20 each. We have a new item called the Divorced Barbie, and she sells for $265.” The man said, “Why is the Divorced Barbie so much more expensive?” The saleslady said, “Oh, because she comes with Ken’s house, Ken’s car, and all of Ken’s furniture!”

This is the third of four messages in the series, “Family: An Endangered Species?” I want to talk about ten habits of highly successful families. Let’s look at a great passage of scripture on what’s most important for a family. In the Old Testament book of Joshua, the children of Israel moved into the Promised Land. They were getting ready to set up their homes as permanent places rather than tents that would be taken down and moved every few days. The leader, Joshua, issued a strong challenge to the families. He said in Joshua 24:15, “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” If you come to my house, you’ll find a plaque affixed to the wall just above the doorbell. It says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” For us it’s more than just a sign, it’s the basis of our entire lives. Have you made that priority in your home?

In preparing for this message, I surveyed about 20 families in our church. These are people I consider to have healthy, positive families. Some were retired couples, with grown children, others were blended families, and others were parents with young children. I asked them to share with me the habits they think make their families strong. From their responses I have prepared a top ten list. I don’t usually share messages that have ten points; I like to shoot from the three-point line! I’ll spend more time on some of the ten than others, but I mainly want to introduce them to you. As you learn them, you should be asking yourself if your family has these habits. If these are not things you are doing habitually, you should consider making them habits for your family.

Some of you remember the old TV game show “Family Feud.” I could subtitle this message “Family Fuel,” because these ten habits will give fire and energy to your family. The top ten habits of successful families–answer number ten, survey says:

10. Children are disciplined with love and consistency

This theme appeared in most of the responses I got. One of our members wrote: “Firm but loving discipline keeps order in the home. There is much chaos when the kids rule the house!” Another one wrote: “Boundaries are established and consequences are explained. Then choice making is taught as a skill. Children are allowed to suffer the consequences of bad choices. Mother and Father do not disagree concerning discipline in front of the children.

Discipline is necessary in any area of life, but especially in the home. Children are born with a stubborn, rebellious nature, and they are by nature sinful. Okay, I know your children and grandchildren are perfect, but wouldn’t you agree that everyone else’s children are rebellious?

I actually remember my first and last temper tantrum as a kid. My mother was in our front yard raking up the leaves from the three huge oak trees that shaded our house in South Alabama. I wanted to go over and see my buddy Jimmy Dean. That was his real name, but I called him Jimbo-Simbo-Limbo. My mother told me I couldn’t go because it was too late. I got so angry I just laid down in the front yard and started screaming, and kicking my feet and pounding my little fists into the ground. In my rage, I forgot my mother had a rake in her hands–and they didn’t have plastic tines back then! I hardly started my temper tantrum when suddenly, I felt my mother forcefully apply that rake to the seat of the problem. It didn’t take me long to decide it was too late to go see Jimmy. I never had another temper tantrum after that!

You don’t have to teach your kids how to disobey and say, “NO!” You have to teach them not to be disobedient. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15 says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction drives it far from him.”

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Tim Richards

commented on Nov 21, 2008

David did a fine job with this sermon. It makes a number of great points and the fact that the ideas come from successful families makes it even more meaningful.

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