The Role We Have as Entrepreneurs in Co-Creating Great, Multi Generational Families

by Dr. Hubert Morken

I have had the great honor of being welcomed in to the Morken family with open arms since David and I became partners in 2000.  I'll never forget the bear hug that Dr. Morken greeted me with in the airport back in 1999.  One of the greatest gifts we can give to our employees is the opportunity to create, lead and love great families.  The Morkens are an incredible example of that.  When I received the following from Dr. Morken, I knew that I had to share it.    I know that it'll impact the way that I lead my family, and encourage the leaders of families that work with us.  I hope it'll do the same for you (HK)

Hubert Morken, Notes for Reunion Comments, July 2018

                                       Great Families

                                “I belong to the God of the mountains,

                                  I belong to the God of the seas,

                                  I belong to the God of the universe,

                                  and He belongs to me.”

The Promise to Abraham, Genesis: 12:2,3.  “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 

God creates families.  The human race comes from one family, Adam and Eve.  Biology —genetic study — tends to confirm this idea.  Israel descends from two people, Abraham and Sarah.  History tends to confirm this story.  Looking ahead we see another family forming. The hymn “God and Man at Table are Sat Down”, written by Bob Stamps, a friend, celebrates the wedding feast of the Lamb, a marriage celebration for the family of God.  The Bible affirms this.  And then there is the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God.  So God Himself is the source of families and He is part of a family.

The children of Adam and Eve, i.e. all human beings, create or enter a family in three ways, marriage, birth, or adoption.  My family, Mary and I, constitute a family with 200,000 relatives, discovered, named, and documented, deceased and alive, with more coming, each of you counted among them, like grains of sand or stars in the sky.  I have met and talked to 6 generations of my family from grandparents to great grandchildren, with lots of siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews and so on.  Mary has talked with 7 of her generations.  To put this in perspective, Jesus lived in Israel a mere 80 or so generations ago.

We relatives of David and Helen live in a great family not just a large family.  There are many families but few great families, something in all confidence and humility to consider.  Before we fight about what I just said, let’s ask two questions, one, “What is a great family?; and two, How are great families formed?” 

What is a great family?  A great family inherits the future and contributes to the well being of others.  That’s my definition, rooted Biblically in Genesis 12 and 22 and in secular history.  

Inheriting the Future:  Often families last for two, three, or four generations and then fade away.  This is considered normal.  Great families persist longer, some much longer, and in the case of Israel are 4000 years old and counting.  Each generation in a great family pushes itself forward into the future treasuring itself, and its heritage.  A great family is forward looking, fundamentally optimistic.  Our mother Helen used to say that the Christian faith is always one generation away from extinction, one breath from death.  She reminds us to run the relay race i.e. to pass the baton forward, not to drop it.  She was conscious of generational power and vulnerability during the hand-off.

Keep in mind, the greatest families embrace the distant future.  Abraham and Sarah were told their children would be as the stars in the heavens and the grains of sand on the seashores.  All great families have the long view—they sacrifice for the future.  In fact, they are built on sacrifice, each generation preparing for the future.  (Note: Jordan B. Peterson’s Genesis lectures). 

The second characteristic of family greatness is positive world-wide influence.  Grandpa Andrew Mitchell made a plaque with one word “Bless”, a word which means “to give something of value, respectfully”.  From God’s point of view all families are meant to bless others, to give, but to be great a family’s “bless” horizon extends past what you can see to reach the nations of the earth.    These families travel, or their influence travels, through time and space, encompassing history and geography, leaping language and ethnic barriers.

Families survive, thrive, and give out of their greatness.  That is their blueprint, their action plan.

The second question is “How are such families formed?”  The best explanation is in plain sight, under our nose.  It is “obedience”.  Genesis 22:18 says “because you have obeyed my voice.”  Because what?  The text reads, the nations will be blessed because “you have obeyed my voice”.  I can say confidently, observing our family for seven plus decades, obedience is the not-so-secret sauce of Helen Michell and David Morken, who together merged two great families, the Morken’s and the Mitchell’s.  

But, I ask, which commandments produced this greatness, this power to survive, this imperative to bless?  Obedience as some abstract idea produces nothing or worse it can destroy everything, in fact I will comment on this truth later.

It is said, “The devil is in the details”.  I say “Greatness is in the details”.  The details are in five commandments given by God to our families.  When followed — year by year — common clay is transformed into something else.    

1. The First Commandment, Genesis 1 & 2:  Men and women are to marry, leave their parents, make babies, and work creatively to produce in this earth a garden, a home.  Each part of this creation mandate is tough.  Which of the four elements of the first commandment is most difficult for you to do today, to marry, leave parents, make babies, work creatively?  All four are essential to form a healthy new generation.  Note:  Those who do not marry are always part of the family, for all time, never alone, intensely needed, honored, and appreciated, fully integrated into the nuclear and extended family — called to be fruitful and mission driven, they help to drive us forward.

2. The Greatest Commandment, Deuteronomy 6: 5:  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  There is nothing boring or stultifying about those words.  Centering your whole being on the one God requires exercise, commitment, imagination — for us, more like becoming a professional soccer player than a spectator; on the field, in the World Cup, not merely in the grandstands.

3. The Second Greatest Commandment, Mark 12: 31.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  Greatness must be grounded.  You cannot despise yourself and bless others or ignore others and hope to influence the world.

4. The New Commandment, John 13: 34.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  Reciprocal love, giving it and receiving it, modeled on Christ, is the nuclear power of the New Testament Church that out-lasted the Roman Empire and expanded its borders.  

5. The Last Commandment, Matthew 28:19-20.  “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Evangelism, missions, instruction, are all anchored here by Jesus in consistent obedience to commandments, a pattern of living.  

Greatness starts with obedience, obedience begins with hearing the voice of God and all three combine to bless — to give something of value, respectfully, to all families and nations.

These five commandments produce staying power and profound influence.  The interplay between them is amazing.....a subject for another time.

In ending, here are two cautionary notes:  First, one great person, a genius, an apostle, a musician, a legend can come from an ordinary family or barely any family at all.  Abraham Lincoln qualifies.  God delights in surprising us, creating something out of nothing, launching greatness out of Nazareth, out of a Kentucky log cabin with dirt floors.  Nevertheless, great families are special too.  They are productive, fruitful, accomplished, and sprinkled among them will be extraordinary heroes, rare people of faith that we remember and celebrate.  See Hebrews 11.  

Second:  Obedience can crush individuality, destroy uniqueness, obliterate creativity.  This is true, especially true, if your god is tradition, if your god is family, if your god is success, or pleasure, or security, or self — all false gods.  But if your Lord is the creator, the covenant maker, the savior, the restorer of  everything, He sets you free by grace and obedience because He wants you to carve a personal destiny, where your mark in history, is yours, and no one else’s to make.  No two people the same, we are stunningly different, each made in His likeness, each valuable, each loaded for impact.  One Rebecca, one Miriam, one Hannah, one Mary

     “Obey.  Be great.  Bless.  Bless.  Be great.  Obey.  Hear the voice of God.”

The Promise to Abraham, Genesis: 12:2,3.  “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 

                                 “I belong to the God of the mountains,

                                   I belong to the God of the seas,

                                   I belong to the God of the universe,

                                   and He belongs to me.”

                                                      Family Song