Legacy and Learning

Ashley with her grandparents at her last high school basketball game.

Successful parenting is not the result of haphazard actions.   Godly children are not the result of parents that got lucky somehow.    I believe it is the kind grace of God using parents that desire to honor Him through applying His commands and principles in training their children.

There are more books today written on the family than ever before and many of them are from a biblical framework and very helpful.    I have read many of them and will continue to do so, because I want to do a good job training my children.   However, the best book on parenting is the Bible.   God designed the home and knows what it takes to make it work correctly and will bless us far greater than we deserve as we obey Him in this area.

The end result of our following His directions is that we might see a godly legacy that will continue for many generations.   I cannot think of a more fulfilling venture in life than influencing potentially thousands of people because of how I have trained my children.
It really isn’t important that people remember me after I’m gone, but it is vital that I leave something worthwhile in the hearts of my family that can be passed on to their children and their children’s children.    It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself and, in fact, can improve
in quality if we do our jobs according to the design that the Architect of the home has given us.

I believe God is looking for moms and dads that will pay the price to see this happen.  And there is a price to be paid.

God said of Abraham in the Old Testament – “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”   (Genesis 18:19)    Abraham “commanded” his children and was the leader and director of his home.   The result was a legacy that involved “keeping the way of the
Lord” and “doing justice and judgment”.    The result is worth paying the price, but sometimes we wonder if it is worth it.   One wag said, “Everyone enjoys and wants the cake, but no one wants to use the recipe”.    The corollary is you can’t have the cake without the recipe.

God wants you to influence your children that you might have a godly legacy and He teaches us how to do so in the Bible – “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”   (Deuteronomy 4:9)    The blessing of our obedience (following God’s “recipe”) is that it will enable us to have a godly legacy.

The first requirement of leaving a legacy that is godly is to guard and protect your personal example.   (See the previous two posts).   The second imperative is giving practical teaching – “teach them” (Deuteronomy 4:9).     The word “teach” in this verse, of course, means “to instruct”, but it also means “to learn and discover something by observation”.   It is more than telling, but showing.   It assumes that the teacher is also learning as he is teaching.   He is not spitting out cold facts, but things he is presently learning.

One of the primary roles of a father is that he is to be a teacher of his children.   The Bible speaks of the “instruction of thy father” (Proverbs 1:8) and also shows the benefits of this instruction (Proverbs 4:1-7).   Dads are commanded to admonish their children in spiritual matters (Ephesians 6:4)   This was one of the ways that Abraham led his family, he taught them (Genesis 18:19).

As a pastor I have discovered that many men are intimidated about teaching in the home.   They feel they are not qualified or do not have much to offer.   (Remember from my previous posts that the best teaching is from your example.   God put the matter of example first before verbal teaching on purpose).    Here is a great encouragement to dads and moms as they teach their children: the teaching referenced in this passage doesn’t concern academic subjects or deep theological issues, but what God is doing in your life and teaching you (Deuteronomy 4:5-9).

This teaching is simply from the overflow of God’s activity in your life.   Of course, that assumes that He is doing a fresh work in your life on a regular basis and teaching you truths about His ways and His character as you read His Word and apply it.    The great thing about this principle of instruction is that anyone can do it!    It isn’t about how many Bible facts you know, but how much of it’s truths you have experienced.   This becomes your “curriculum” that will establish a meaningful legacy.

This is why grandparents are so important in the training of godly generations.   They have walked with God longer and have more experiences, stories and truths to pass on (Psalm 71:16-18).   If you are a grandfather and grandmother be proactive in the training of your grandchildren.   Tell them your stories!   Parents, take advantage of this wealth of experience.   Next time your children are with their grandparents prime the pump a bit and ask them some leading questions about God’s past working in their lives so your children can be the beneficiaries of it.   If your parents are passed on then invite an older couple out to dinner and ask them to share some of their spiritual experiences with your children.   This works!   I know that it does – and you can do it!

This is part of the equation of establishing a godly legacy that spans generations.    We cannot take short cuts on this part of the “recipe”.    God will bless our simple obedience.

Perhaps one of the best skills we can learn as parents and to pass on to our children by modeling it is to listen well.   Sometimes my family will be at a dinner table with an older, godly couple and I try to model this for my children by asking our guests questions and then being quiet and listening to them respond.   One of my children does this especially well and has learned the value of picking someone’s mind to learn from them rather than talking a lot and dominating the conversation with his own interests.   I would like to think he learned some of that from his mother and I.   Also, I know that his own children will see this modeled and learn to ask good questions and be an active listener.

This is more than being courteous in conversation, but it is wise and has great benefits.  We aren’t learning when we are talking; we are learning when we are listening.   Alfred Brendel wrote, “The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent”.  

Dear parent, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to teach your child effectively.   Share with him regularly what God is teaching you and doing in your own life.    One of the most valuable gifts you can give your child is a teachable spirit – and this means not only a thirst and quest to learn more, but to be silent – and listen to those that have wisdom and experience.

May you be encouraged that you can impact your children as you teach them from your life, what you have learned and are learning.    I believe the best teacher of your child ought not be at school, the college or university, a coach or in the fine arts.   You have the potential – and the responsibility – to have the greatest impact on their lives when you teach them about the reality of God in your daily life.   Legacy and learning, of necessity, go together.   The teaching from parents and grandparents is one of the foundational pillars of your legacy.

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About familyencouragement

Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Huntsville, Alabama. Married for 39 years with seven children and eight grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Family Issues and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Legacy and Learning

  1. Paul and Glenda Stetson says:

    Thank you sincerely, Brother Rick, for these excellent posts about leaving a godly legacy for our children and grandchildren. This is a blessing, encouragement, and challenge to us. We hope to take a furlough in the summer of 2013, so maybe we’ll have a chance to get to Huntsville to say hello. God bless and strengthen you and your dear family. Sincerely in Christ, Paul and Glenda Stetson

  2. Hi Paul and Glenda! We would love to see you next year. Please make sure to contact me and let me know what your plans are. Blessings on you today. Love you much.

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