By Campus Pastor Peter Johnson, Norris Square
“It is my belief that grandparenting is the most important family role of the new century.”
—Roma Hanks, PhD in Family Studies/Gerontology, from the University of Delaware
Grandparents are well positioned to influence the lives of their grandchildren. (Pictured right: A resident at Johanna Shores meets a grandbaby for the first time using video chat.)
For people of faith, God’s Word, as recorded in the Bible, directs us to be intentionally involved in lives of younger family members, to teach them His Word, character and ways. Here is what God says to His people in the Old Testament:
“Now, Israel, hear the decrees and laws I am about to teach you… Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” —Deuteronomy 4:1, 9
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” —Deuteronomy 6:5-7
Here are four ways you can be an intentional grandparent in the Christian faith:
1. Model a life that demonstrates what it looks like to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Children and grandchildren learn best through modeling. How we live shows them what we really believe and what is important. By watching you, they can translate your values into their own lives. The Apostle Paul wrote this to his apprentice, Timothy, regarding the influence of his grandparents: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).
2. As much as you can, teach them God's Word and share your faith. Tell them about your spiritual journey. Read the Bible with them. Let them ask questions, and answer them. Express how following Jesus has changed your life and encourage them to listen for God’s calling for their life.
3. Love your grandchildren as much as you can. Send them emails, notes and letters. Call them on the phone. Bless, encourage and nourish them with your words. Put these tasks on your weekly schedule. Steve Bell, of the Willow Creek Association, put it like this: “How we feel about our grandchildren is how they will feel about themselves.”
4. Never stop praying for your grandchildren. Prayer is one of the greatest and most effective tools we have as Christians. Prayer is a game changer. Here is a letter from a woman named Lillian Penner, to her grandparents: “Your phone calls, cards, and emails were encouraging and made a significant impact on my life, especially in my teenage and college years. Your prayers and encouragement have been rock-solid reminders of God’s truth in my incredible, crazy life-shaping years, and now in my married life. Your prayers help me surrender the craziness of my life to God.”
I leave with you a pledge for grandparents from the Legacy Coalition (check out their resources online), that you can embrace as your own:
I will: Guide grandkids with grace. Respect parent roles. Abound in my affection. Nurture their nature. Deal with the dilemma of distance. Pray with passion and purpose. Adjust my attitude in case I need to. Restore relationships. Excel in my example. Number my days. Tell them my testimony. Intentionally influence. Never neglect the newest generation. Give them the Gospel.
I am an intentional Christian grandparent.
Blessings to you as you intentionally grandparent in the coming months and years!
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