Those who live their earthly lives to be famous in heaven look different than those who live to be famous on earth. I’ve met a few such people, and their very presence is disarming. These are people who live from God’s love, not for his love, and who find their identity as a family because of that love.
Two of these humans are my Great Uncle Keith and Aunt Myrtle—an uncelebrated, ordinary couple known for their faithfulness. Today, they live in a residential facility for retired missionaries. Nothing fancy, but they don’t mind.
In the early years of their marriage, they committed their lives to doing hard and unseen acts of faith, moving their family to live deep in the Amazon jungle of Brazil with a people group who had no written language and who had never seen a white man, let alone trusted one. Uncle Keith and Aunt Myrtle raised their children in that jungle, without access to modern medicine or conveniences, with the express purpose of loving people long enough to earn their trust and tell them about the God who loved them so much that he sent an average Canadian family to tell them so.
They lived a lifetime of hidden, unseen, uncelebrated faith. After decades in the jungle, they were so trusted by the Yanomami people that when the local men went to war against neighboring tribes, they left their possessions with Keith and Myrtle rather than their family or friends.
Upon retiring and returning to Canada, the pastor of a small church once invited Uncle Keith to share about his years of ministry. As he finished telling stories about their time with the Yanomami people, the pastor, as if asking for a baseball score, asked how many converts he had. Uncle Keith looked down at the pulpit and quietly said, “None.”
“Then it seems your ministry was a failure,” the pastor curtly replied.
Uncle Keith never forgot those words. I’ve heard him say, “In the church’s eyes, our ministry wasn’t successful. But I know we did it because the Lord asked us to. I have to remember that.”
I hope I never have to meet that spiteful pastor. I’d kick him in the shins.
In one sentence, with his misguided understanding of fame and earthly chasing, he tried to steal the joy of a lifetime of humble love. But isn’t that just what the enemy does—he flips the truth upside down and spews out spiteful lies about the insignificance of our lives and our calling. He makes us question our God-given purpose—as individuals and as a family. And he uses other human beings to do it, including modern-day Pharisees such as that pastor.
Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Building on the foundation of trust established by his parents, Keith and Myrtle’s son decided to remain in the jungle. And what neither that pastor nor Uncle Keith knew at the time was how their son would see many Yanomami come to faith. The seeds you sow as a parent may not bear fruit in your season, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t left a legacy. A true legacy is when you know who your family is and you choose to remain faithful, regardless of the outcome.
When you know your identity as a son or daughter of God, your worth as a person no longer rises and falls on being a stay-at-home parent, mompreneur, CEO, musician, servicemember, speaker, laborer, podcaster, or whatever roles you might hold. Instead, you live from love, not for love. You can show up for your family, not just with your family. Living from love as a child of God makes knowing who your family is, and what God calls you to as a family, much easier. Because you no longer have anything to prove.
Our job on earth is to bring God glory in how we lead our family, love others, and make choices—both big and small, seen and unseen. And when we do that, we, too, can leave legacy upon legacy to our children and our children’s children. Not because of anything flashy we do, but because our kids learn that God is a living, breathing heavenly Father whose love for us changes how we show up for others.
God is looking for humble hearts who will lay down their lives to realize his Kingdom on earth a little more each day, regardless of the cost or how hidden our contribution might be. That’s what it means to know who your family is—to identify the ways in which you can partner with God to advance the Kingdom. For Keith and Myrtle, that meant serving as missionaries in a remote Brazilian village. For Josh and me, that means bringing a renewed sense of connection, adventure, and purpose to families. For you, that means discovering the heartbeat and identity of your family and then living it out. And we’ll walk you through a process to do just that with the Seven Decisions in part 3.
As you discover more about who you are and who your family is, it might require making some changes in your lifestyle, job, schooling for your kids, or even where you live. But don’t be afraid of reprioritizing your roles or even what God might call you to do as a family. Though change can feel scary in the moment, imagine what God can do through your family on the other side of your faith. As Dale Mast writes, “Faith believes what God can do. Identity believes what God can do through you.”1 Let your faith guide you. Let your identity guide your family.
Famous at Home by Dr. Josh and Christi Straub
No one wakes up and decides, “I’m planning to ruin my marriage, neglect my kids, and cause mistrust in my family.” Yet our personal pursuits and busyness can lead us there. In this book, marriage and leadership coaches Dr. Josh and Christi Straub show how seven core decisions can help us put what’s most important center stage in our lives.
Famous at Home is Josh and Christi’s realistic, grace-filled look at the struggles families face in a culture that competes for their time, attention, and identity. Whether you’ve found yourself putting more effort into becoming famous on stages outside the home, or your stage is the home, Famous at Home offers guidance and inspiration to help you give your family the best version of you instead of your leftovers.
Famous at Home will help you and your spouse
- Be on the same team—fighting for each other and not against each other
- Stay emotionally connected even if work, distance, or busyness are in the way
- Deeply invest in the emotional lives of your children
You really can be famous at home, showing up in intentional and meaningful ways for your biggest fans. All it takes is realizing that the greatest red carpet you’ll ever walk is through your front door.