We’re not keeping this to ourselves, we’re passing it along to the next generation— God’s fame and fortune, the marvelous things he has done. Psalm 78:4 (MSG)
I have, by no means, been a perfect parent. Nevertheless, I have diligently attempted to pass along to my daughters the things that God has done for us and in me. I have tried to be very intentional in teaching them some things. I have tried to quietly let them observe my own relationship with God in other things. Now, as my daughters arrive at the cusp of being adults, I’m blessed to see God at work in them. I’m amazed by their active faith.
A friend of mine is a youth leader in their church. He has shared his journey in this position with me, and I’ve tried to be an encouragement to him. I have watched his discouragement along the way and have been amazed. His frustration has not with the young people in the group, but with parents who have not provided any spiritual direction for foundation for their children. He often feels that the young people he works with are confused and lost, not because of outside influences, but because they have had no spiritual direction from the people who are most influential in their lives.
I believe that one of the most important aspects of being a parent, perhaps the single most important aspect, is spiritual. I’ve never taken this to mean that I must maintain saintly perfection or know everything about God. Rather, I’ve believed that my own relationship with God must be real, and my children must be able to observe that. I’ve believed that my children must learn from my frail humanity and see how God is engaged with me in the midst of my own weaknesses. I’ve desired that my children observe my own maturing process in my relationship with God, even if they can’t articulate what they’ve observed in the present moment. I’ve believed that things like prayer, spending time in God’s message, and worship are as important as learning to wash your hands before dinner.
If succeeding generations are to make a difference in this world, then I have to intentionally pass along the things of God to my children and, someday, to my grandchildren.