Over the course of our ministry, my husband and I have spoken to thousands of parents, both young and old. And I can say without hesitation that almost every parent I have met wants to pass on good things to their kids because they love them. Over the years I have talked to countless people interested in Christian parenting that would say they truly want to leave a Godly legacy to their children, but they will admit that they aren’t completely sure what that means exactly.
This is not shocking to me. In the day-to-day grind of life, we all have the potential of getting caught up in life’s hectic demands and can easily lose sight of our real purpose as parents as we get lost in the details.
So in this post I hope to inspire you to re-focus on your purpose if you have gotten off-track and give you some real practical ways to create a Biblical legacy wherever you might be in that process, even if you have never even considered that a priority before.
Leaving a Godly Legacy is our purpose as parents. It is mandated in Scripture. Our most important job is to teach our children about the Lord and make it a priority.
“…you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-9
I know plenty of parents who think that as long as they take their kids to church once in a while, or because they attend Christian school, or maybe they go to VBS or church camp that they have somehow fulfilled their job by getting their kids in front of people that can tell them about God.
Those are all good and helpful things to support what you are doing at home, but they were never intended to be the only source of Biblical teaching. God intends that to be happening in the home by the parents. Why is it so important for us to be the influencers in our child’s life?
In Exodus 20:6, God tells Moses:
“I lavish my love on those who love me and obey my commands, even for a thousand generations.”
You see, what you do now matters, and it affects generations.
The truth is this: You will pass on something to your children and grandchildren…the question is, what?
Everything we need to know about passing on a Godly legacy to our children is found in Scripture. The Bible is as valid for us now as it was for all the generations of parents before us.
The problem is this: many of us were not taught how to pass on a Godly Legacy to our children because we didn’t have it passed on to us. Many parents were not raised in a Biblical way, and some have never even really seen what Biblical parenting really looks like so they have nothing to model after.
Many times these people end up being reactive parents, and parent not according to Scripture, but in reaction to their own upbringing and the legacy that has been handed down to us. If they think they turned out pretty good, than they just copy what their parents did; good or bad, right or wrong, extremely strict and overbearing, or completely permissive with no structure or boundaries - and then hope for a similar outcome. Or, on the other extreme, they didn’t like the way they were raised so they throw out everything their parents did and go over to the opposite extreme. Extremes in parenting approaches are almost never Biblical or healthy. What our children really need is a Godly home that is balanced and full of love.
When we as parents really understand that the things we do today affect the way our children remember their childhoods and mold who they are and how they see life – that’s when we get serious about making changes that create a Godly legacy.
A Godly legacy begins when we are intentional parents who create a home that honors God. Children thrive best in an atmosphere of genuine love, supported by reasonable, consistent discipline.
In this day and time, with so much trying to win the hearts and minds of our children, we can’t just rely on hope or luck to raise Godly children.
We must be intentional and make a choice to parent according to God’s Word and make it a priority to infuse that into every choice we make.
So, I want to share with you four basics principles that will help us all create a more Godly Legacy in our homes:
1. Be the example of the character traits you would like to develop in your children.
You have probably heard the saying, “more is caught than taught.” It is true. If you want your children to be truthful, then you need to be truthful. If you want them to serve others, let them see you serving. If you want them to have an authentic relationship with Jesus, show them what that looks like in your life. You have tremendous influence simply by the way you live your life in front of them.
2. Be consistent with rules and consequences.
Challenge to your authority will happen. That doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong. See those challenges as an opportunity to train and reach their heart by teaching them God’s Truth on various matters. Our kids challenge us because they need to know where the boundaries of right and wrong are. If the same rules apply as yesterday, who here is going to do something about it if I disobey, anyway?
When we are consistent and clear, we make them feel secure because they know where the boundary is, and they feel confident in our ability to lead them. If you are not consistent with your rules and consequences, you are actually training your child to be more disobedient and for them to challenge you more often. Why? They are always trying to figure out what the rules are today and how much they can get away with….and will only find out by pushing the limits.
We have to consistently discipline for disobedience and teach our children to respect our authority. This is an important truth for all parents: If you want your child to accept your values and beliefs when they are older, it is essential that they see you as worthy of respect when they are young.
3. Be intentional about your own choices to make sure they line up with God’s Word and the legacy you hope to create.
Be careful about making decisions on the fly based on what is easiest, and most convenient at the time. Little choices add up to setting the tone for our values: Choices like what we watch on TV, where our priorities are, and how we spend our free time.
4. Be in prayer for your family and journal about your successes and failures.
Ask yourself, ‘What are my goals as a parent? What would I like our family to be like?” Journal about those goals and start praying for those things. We need to know what it is that we want for our family and set goals to get there. If you have no goals for your family, then you are guaranteed not to reach any.
Being a parent isn’t easy….it’s hard work! Being a Godly parent takes wisdom, courage, and patience mixed with big doses of grace and forgiveness.
When those difficult days come – and they will – we need to remember that God gave you your children for a reason. He chose you to parent that child and He will equip you to do the job if you allow Him to. Don’t let your frustration or distractions keep you from finding your purpose as a parent.
Whether you are just beginning your parenting journey, or you have grown kids and you are entering a new phase of parenting, embrace where you are at in the journey and make the most of it! Enjoy your kids and have fun with them, because when it comes to parenting, the days seem to drag on forever, but the years go by in the blink of an eye, and your kids are worth it!