As American society devolves into hyperindividualism, baby boomers need to restore the institutions they sought to dismantle: the traditional family, objective truth, and transcendent morality. The ideas sown in the ‘60s have yielded a bumper crop of mental health issues, depression, loneliness, suicide, and addiction—the byproducts of a post-truth world. English author and cultural critic Malcolm Muggeridge mused, “One of the peculiar sins of the twentieth century which we’ve developed to a very high level is the sin of credulity. It has been said that when human beings stop believing in God they believe in nothing. The truth is much worse: they believe in anything.” Those retired from the marketplace or outside the public school system need to understand that this is the milieu of our children and grandchildren.
So, grandparents, what are you going to do about it? Grandparents are said to be willing to do anything for their beloved grandchildren. While showering them with gifts, shuttling them to activities, and shielding them from unpleasantries, grandparents need to prioritize the relational above the transactional. The good news is that there is Truth, the antidote to the contagion of subjective relativism in our culture, and that one of the most influential voices in a child’s life is that of their grandparent(s). The rich experiences, wisdom, love, and empathy that a grandparent brings into a child’s life are priceless.
Despite the strong desire for transmission from the grandparents some blame a perceived weak reception from the grandchildren for not pursuing strong relationships. In March 2022, a survey commissioned by genealogy company Ancestry.com found that 53% of Americans could not name all of their grandparents. Despite that, the majority of respondents had a high level of interest in knowing their grandparents’ stories and wanted to learn more about their elders.
As parents to three young boys, my wife and I cherish not only the practical assistance from our in-laws and my parents, but also the intergenerational exchange that enriches our boys’ lives. There is no one better equipped or aptly positioned to reinforce our family values to our boys, which include a personal relationship with Jesus, perseverance through challenges, and loving and serving others.
Thank you to all of you grandparents who faithfully invest in your grandchildrens’ lives. Whether or not you believe you deserve these accolades, we can all agree that as parents and grandparents, we must invest in the lives of those closest to us and continue to improve our game. Most importantly we must be intentional about our faith in Jesus Christ and why we chose to live how we live and hold our Christian beliefs. We must be vulnerable, transparent, and humbly instruct the next generation in a manner commensurate with their maturity. This is a call to action to Christian grandparents and a challenge to churches to equip and encourage their grandparents to leave a rich spiritual legacy with your grandchildren.
Christian Grandparent Workshop
On November 12, 2022, eighty-four grandparents and one expecting grandparent attended a Christian Grandparent workshop at Cedar Crest Bible Fellowship in Allentown, PA. The full-day event featured videos and curriculum from Legacy Coalition (legacycoalition.org) encouraging grandparents to intentionally spend time with their grandchildren, instilling and reinforcing a strong Christ-honoringl legacy for future generations. Most in the audience reportedly left with a renewed sense of purpose and mission as an intentional grandparent.
It is acknowledged that many grandparents are challenged with distance—either relational or geographic, and sometimes both. Grandparents are special people and can find special little ways to connect with grandchildren, whether by a video call or a letter. Bridging this distance might be expensive or emotionally painful, but it is an investment worth the risk. Sometimes in difficult times it is heard that, “all we can do is pray.” But, this phrase that is uttered when our exasperation melts our illusion of control holds deep theologically truth. As finite creatures all we can do is pray to the infinite Creator and Sustainor of the universe. Pray for your grandchildren daily, pray early, pray often, and do not stop praying!
At the end of a popular podcast series segment, the host asks the guest one powerful question: “What is the most courageous thing that you’ve ever done?” The answers have never been about any physical feat but rather working up the courage to confront one’s own emotional and psychological strongholds, almost always some manifestation of pride. It could be a grudge or forgiveness, arrogance, narcissism, or even apathy. We have all made missteps in our lives, but it is always in our humility and transparency that we find restoration and hope. Authenticity with children and grandchildren brings restoration where it is needed and inspires incredible hope for all. Our world needs more hope, and grandparents are the ones to communicate it. Or, to paraphrase the apostle Peter, to share the hope that is within you… Jesus Christ. This should be the legacy of every grandparent.
“Love the Lord with your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Many can recite this phrase that Moses told a generation of Israelites on the cusp of entering the Promised Land, but few remember the preceding instruction to teach these commands to future generations, specifically to their children and their grandchildren (Deuteronomy 6). In the audience was Moses’ heir apparent, Joshua, who was constantly reminded to be strong and courageous, to follow the Laws of Moses so he would be successful. Judges 2:7 tells us, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel.” Tragically, this celebrated generation of Joshua gave birth to another generation who grew up and neither knew the Lord nor what he had done for Israel…the next generation of Israelites did evil and served idols.
Make a commitment to not let this happen to your family. Commit to not just serving the Lord, but also investing in the hearts of your grandchildren. To learn more about the workshop’s curriculum or to get inspired to make spiritual investments in the next generation visit legacycoalition.org. Reach out to me with questions or ideas on how you can bring a Grandparenting Workshop to your congregation.