It was promotion Sunday at my church–the day when church members “promote” into their new Sunday school classes. As we headed down our tree-lined driveway to church, I wondered, “Would this be the year I would move into the Legacy Sunday school department, the department of grandparents, retirees, and Medicare recipients?” I knew at my current age I was dangerously close to the precipice! I had considered obtaining a fake ID to present to the Sunday school director should the need arise but thought better of it.
After arriving at church, I cautiously approached the table in the foyer holding the stack of Sunday school fliers and proceeded to open the one containing the elaborately crafted Sunday school flow chart. Scanning the list for my birthdate, I thought, “I can’t possibly be old enough yet to cross the great Sunday school divide!” I finally spotted my birth year. Whew! Still in the Median Adult department. Hallelujah! I wouldn’t need the fake ID after all; I was safe for another year.
My close encounter with the Legacy department did get me thinking. “What exactly is a legacy?” Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor. When we think of the word legacy we often think about one’s material possessions or perhaps their reputation, but for Christian parents it involves so much more. It is the passing on of our core beliefs and values to the next generation–an important process to be shaped with thoughtful intentionality.
There are four key components to a Christian parent’s legacy that will greatly affect the lives of the children they leave behind. They are as follows:
- Their beliefs and convictions about life.
- Their priorities.
- Their belief in and interaction with God’s Word, the Bible.
- Their transmission of the keys to the kingdom.
Passing on our beliefs and convictions in life is crucial to our children’s success. I’m talking about important things like: honesty, integrity, generosity, purity, hospitality, kindness, and servanthood. In fact, if we expect our children to internalize our values then we have to have a three-pronged method to make sure that happens. We have to : live out our beliefs, speak of them often, and applaud them in our children. Living out our convictions in front of our children means, practicing kindness, helping others, and modeling honesty, ourselves. We also need to have actual conversations with our children about what we believe in, taking advantage of teachable moments and engaging in age-appropriate discussions when necessary. And, when our children exhibit attitudes and actions that are in line with our convictions and core values, we should reward and applaud them, reinforcing the positive behavior.
When considering your legacy, take stock of your priorities. Let’s face it, even young children know what is important to their parents. They know if dad is consumed with work or mom is all about being at the gym for hours at a time. They also know if mom and dad place value on spending time in God’s Word. Let me ask you: How important is it to you that you are a part of a local church? How about spending time with your family? Is service to others a high priority? How about fellowship with other Christians? If we want our children to place importance on Christian fellowship when they are grown, then we need to make it a priority now so that our children see it in action. We can do that by becoming an active part of a local church. In this way we help our children to understand the value and joy of being a part of the community of faith.
Speaking of God’s Word, do your children know how you feel about it? I want my children to love the Word of God. I want them to turn to it when they are afraid, stressed, sad, or unsure. I want it to be their first source of wisdom and guidance. Therefore, I need to show them that I believe the Bible is accurate, inerrant, relevant, and valuable. I can’t do that if the Bible is sitting on a shelf collecting dust. Instead, my children should see the Bible in my hands as I look to it for wisdom, strength, and comfort. Do your children know that you love God’s Word? Do they ever see you reading it? Do you ever read it to them, or turn to it for help when counseling them on issues that arise?
And finally, my legacy is worthless if I have not passed on to my children the keys to the kingdom: faith in God, salvation, and eternal life. Take your children to church to hear the gospel; tell them about Jesus and how he died for them; help them to know of God’s infinite love and watch-care over them.
Let’s be intentional, prayerful, and purposeful when it comes to our legacy. Begin when your children are small to instill in them Christian values and attitudes, teaching them to love God, his church, and his Word. Make sure your priorities align with the Word of God. And tell your precious children about God who loved them so much that he sent His son, Jesus to die for them. Tell them that God has a special purpose and plan for their life.
Don’t wait until you’re in the Legacy Sunday school class to start thinking about your legacy; now is the time to take action. Make sure your children know who God is and what he means to you. Future generations are depending on it!