Does Living Generationally Really Matter?

Hey guys. Jeff and Jeremy here for another Five Minute Fatherhood. One of the things that we want to wrestle with is does this generational thing really make a difference? Does it really matter to your great, great, great grandchildren who their great, great, great grandfather is? How big of an impact do we really have? And there’s not been a lot of studies done that make this super obvious or clear. The Bible itself is a really great case study for this. But if you want to get into some more recent case studies, there’s actually been a couple of sociologists looked at two different family lines. One was Jonathan Edwards’ family. He came up with this thing, this sociologist, he called it, “The five generation rule.” And he really looked at what happens when one father really makes a big difference in the life of a family.

So, he decided to track five generations of the Edwards family to find his legacy and discovered… This is just high level. He discovered there was one US Vice President, a dean of a law school, a dean of a medical school, three US senators, three governors, three mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 60 doctors, 65 professors. The list goes on and on and on and on, 65 military officers. Anyway, he just saw this. He started to map out this incredible legacy that came when he started going five generations into the future, and it was enormous.

Now at the same time, a different sociologist, Richard Dugdale did a similar study on a guy. Now they discovered in the New York penitentiary in the late 1800s, they discovered there were 44 different inmates that had all descended from the same man. This guy is a bit infamous. His name was Max Jukes. So, what they discovered was that in his generational line, there were seven murderers, 60 thieves, 190 prostitutes, 150 other convicts, 310 families living in poverty, 440 that were addicted to alcohol. I mean it was just a map of devastation.

This is one of the things that we really are trying to emphasize to you guys. If we were living 2-300 years, everybody would be obsessed with multi-generational family because they would see the impact. But because we don’t actually see the impact because we die before we see, oftentimes, even our great-grandchildren, we kind of say, “Well, am I really having an impact on the future?” But once you start to see this played out generationally over time, man, even simple studies really show what happens when your legacy pierces multiple generations. But what does that stir up for you, Jeff?

Yeah, for some reason I think of that part in Atomic Habits by James Clear where he talks about the 1% rule, right? Getting 1% better every single day or just doing 1% better each day leads to a 37 X return or something, down a certain time. And then if you do get 1% worse each day, you actually can’t even barely measure that. You can barely measure if you’ve got one… It’s that small of a difference. That basically leads you down to zero. And that’s just crazy. I feel like it’s exactly like that with family and legacy and multi-generational.

We’re not talking about these crazy, huge, enormous things, but living your life faithfully with compound interest in regards to your culture, your vision. In regards to what you cast over your multi-generational legacy. And it’s just a degree difference too, right? You know, if you’re only one degree going in a different direction than someone on a ship, if you’ve only gone one mile, you can still see that other ship. But if you’re going one degree off in a different direction for hundreds of thousands of miles, then you’ll literally be light years away from each other. And I think it’s exactly like that. So, when I hear that, I think of like, “Oh, it only takes a little bit to get there because again, it’s such a long play.” And so that’s for good and for bad. That’s what I think of. I don’t know. What would you say when you think about that? What else that hits you with?

Yeah, I just want to encourage you guys. What you’re doing now makes a difference. You may be in the middle of spit up and trying to train your toddler and tantrums and diapers, but man, you are changing the world through those kids generationally. And you need to understand that what we’re doing when we are having children is we’re playing the long game. Oftentimes we have to really absorb that so much of our world-changing influence is going to be multiplied into the future. If we really are faithful with this responsibility as dads to love our kids, to train our children, and to develop heart level relationships with them for life. This is worth it. This is good work and it’s going to change the future.

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