What Does It Mean to be a GRAND Father?

On a flight last year to Boston, I was privileged to sit next to an 81-year-old man still working fulltime. He’s been with the same company for fifty years. “I see no reason to retire,’ he said. “I love my job, and I’m good at it. I love the relationships I have cultivated over the years, and the opportunities to still make a difference.”

He went on to explain he had taken on the responsibility of “grandfathering” his four adult nephews and nieces who lost their father—his brother—to cancer. “I want them to know,” he said, “that I’m going to be there for them, to help them make the most of their lives. I love that my work gives me opportunities to do that.”

Wow! I don’t hear that kind of talk from many older men, and he isn’t even a believer! But this guy gets something I think many of us men don’t get—it’s not about me. If you are a follower of Christ, it ought to be it’s all about Christ in you so the next generations will know the truth and walk in it. I appreciated that this grandfather sitting next to me was going to make sure his life “mattered and made a difference” for his family. He told me the one question informing the decisions he makes is this: “Will this decision be good for my family?”

While I applaud his commitment to what is good for his family, the thing that is truly best for your family is the all-satisfying delight of knowing Christ and following him wholeheartedly. Still, I wonder how many Christian grandfathers ask the question he asked, let alone the more important one: “Will my decision make Christ look great in the eyes of my family?”

This is Father’s Day, and my prayer is that you choose to be a GRAND father in your family. So, let me challenge you to take to heart the words of Paul to Titus about teaching older men what is in accord with sound doctrine: “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness.”(Titus 2:2 ESV).

  1. Sober or sober-minded:This has to with being restrained or not given to over-indulgence, not merely in the use of alcohol, but in all pleasures in life. Grandfathers, we of all men ought to know the dangers and consequences of over-indulgence in anything.
  2. Dignified:This is living a life that is worthy of respect. It is not the putting on an air of being proper, but that we are serious about a right way of living because we live in the light of eternity.
  3. Self-controlled:This is a term Paul uses a lot and applies it to every age for both men and women. It relates to our passions and who is in control of them—the Spirit or our sinful nature. It is said among Hebrew men that the man who never learns self-control can never become a mature, sage male.
  4. Sound in faith, love and steadfastness:As older men, we ought to display those qualities of life that give evidence of faith that is real, not merely professed. Our faith in Christ and His grace, and the promise of eternal life ought to drive us to love better and persist more. Our love should be more reflective of how Christ loves us. We ought to be men with chests who face the hard things of life with joy and confidence in the promise of God in which we remain steadfast in perseverance—not lulled into complacency.

These things define a grand-father, transformed by the Gospel of Christ. In other words, the grace of God is more than knowing our sins are forgiven. It also “teaches us to say ‘No!’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:12-13).

May God bless you on this Father’s Day and give you the courage to be a grand-father who is sober-minded, dignified and worthy of respect, self-controlled, and a godly example of faith, love and endurance.

 

GRANDPAUSE:Grace, properly received, trains us, not just to renounce certain actions, but to embrace new treasures and passions. –Josh Lindstrom

Happy Grand Fathers Day!

Grandfathers! What Are You Doing to Produce Godly Grandsons?

When Leo told me that his grandfather was the only male role model in his life that showed him what a real man looked like, I was both heartbroken and ecstatic. On the one hand, it was tragic that he had no father involved in his life, or that no other men were able to provide a model of godly manhood for this young man. On the other hand, praise God for a grandfather who did.

 

I am the first to herald the importance of a father as the primary teacher of what it means to be a man for his son. But I also believe, whether a boy has a father committed to doing that or not, a grandfather can have a powerful influence in helping a young man (and a young woman) grow towards godly adulthood. My own grandfather set a powerful example for me as a man of honor, integrity, hard work, and a high commitment to the Word and prayer.

 

I want to be that kind of example to my grandchildren, especially my grandsons. There are five things I want my grandsons to understand about being a man of God.

  1. That a godly man treasures Christ and His gospel above all else. I want them to know that there is no greater treasure than that found in the everlasting, ever-increasing, never boring but ever-satisfying joy of knowing and following Christ.
  2. That there is no greater virtue than treating the opposite sex with honor, respect and dignity, and that he will love the woman he chooses for his bride as Christ loves His Bride, the Church—willing to go to the stake for her sake.
  3. That a man has a work to do, and there is no greater purpose or reward given by God than doing that which God has called him according to God’s purposes whether in his career, his home, his church or his community.
  4. That a godly man is not mastered by his passions and pleasures but master of them. He knows the value of self-control.
  5. That a true man of God rejects any sense of passivity, but courageously chooses to do what is right and true rather than surrendering to what is popular or comfortable.

 

So, as a grandfather, what can I do to communicate these things to my grandsons with the greatest impact? I suspect you already know (it’s not rocket science), but here are three things I think we would all agree are critical to that impact:

 

  1. Pray for your grandson(s)—and granddaughter(s)—faithfully and regularly. The prayers of a righteous man have a powerful impact (James 5:16).
  2. Be an example. No matter what you say, if your way of life does not match what you say, your words will fall on deaf ears. Paul audaciously proclaimed, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9). If you want to make an impact on your grandsons, then make this your life verse. This is not a matter of being perfect, but knowing that how you respond in those times when you mess up is how you would want your grandson(s) to also respond.
  3. Spend time with them. I’ve heard it said that ‘quality’ of time spent is more important than ‘quantity’ of time, I don’t think it’s either or. I believe that for us to have the greatest impact in another’s life, our lives need to intersect. While proximity (quantity) does make doing life together easier, not living nearby does not negate your potential impact, if you make the most of the time you have (quality). Technology also gives us a great advantage when proximity is not possible. And don’t forget the impact of letters to stay connected.

 

Obviously, if you do these things well it is still no guarantee your grandson(s) will be godly men, or that your granddaughter(s) will be godly women. But do not forget that God cherishes them even more than you do, but He has chosen you to be his hands and feet. Your faithfulness in presenting them with an image of what a godly man looks like can have an amazing influence on the choices they make. Can you afford to do otherwise? There is, after all, no greater joy than knowing our children and grandchildren are walking in the truth. God has put you in their lives to give them every reason to choose that path.

 

I will never forget the memorial service of a dear friend and mentor where several of his grandchildren came to the front and declared: “Much of the reason we wanted to know Jesus and follow Him is because our grandfather treasured Jesus and smelled so much like Jesus we wanted to know Him too.” May God make you a grandfather who smells like Jesus… for the sake of your grandchildren.

The Gospel and Geocaching

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure hunting game using a geocache app on GPS-enabled devices, like a smartphone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) someone has hidden around that location. Unlike traditional treasure hunting, geocaching is more about the hunt than it is the treasure. In most cases, once the treasure is found, the treasure seeker simply records his/her name, leaves the treasure where it was found, and moves on to the next treasure cache.

Grandparenting can be a lot like geocaching. While our grandchildren are grand treasures to us, we must be careful not to forget what the real treasure is. Gospel-shaped grandparents intentionally seek a greater treasure—that our precious grandchildren will know the treasure of being made alive in Christ and the all-satisfying delight of living to the praise of His glory.

It is true that a new grandchild born into our family is a treasure. But we dare not forget the sad reality that every human being born into this world is born with a sin nature. It is easy to forget that when we gaze into the cherub faces of a newborn grandchild, or as we revel in the enjoyment and memorable moments with young grandchildren. We must not forget that they, like the rest of us, need the life-giving transformation that only Christ can provide.

The ultimate treasure we seek for these treasures delivered into our families is that they one day know and embrace the truth of the Gospel of Christ. If we do not seek that treasure for them, we are like geocachers who find a treasure, but then walk away without it. “Oh, that’s nice. Let’s see what else is out there.”

On the other hand, grandparents can serve much like the GPS system used in geocaching. We point them to the treasure that is available to those who seek and understand what a treasure it is. We do that by praying for them and with them, sharing the story of reality found only in the Bible, and by living a life that says what we profess to believe is evident in how we live.

Which means we know what we believe and why. Some say that is not the ‘treasure’ that is important, only the journey of seeking. And since there are many ‘treasures’ to be found, why stop with only one. Keep seeking and discover the joy of lots of different treasures—like geocache treasure hunters do.

That may work for geocaching where none of the treasures have any eternal significance. In the game of life, the treasure our grandchildren seek matters. We are responsible to point them to the true treasure and teach them to understand the significance of this treasure. They also need to know why no other so-called treasure can offer eternal life.

Godly grandparents want to provide a spiritual impact upon their grandchildren. Whether you do or not, is up to you. Do you want these treasured members of your family to find the treasure of all treasures—Christ, our Redeemer and Friend, or will they see no reason to believe it is the treasure we claim it to be?

[BTW, geocaching could be a great activity to do with your grandchildren, and to use it to talk about the difference between the kind of treasures being sought in geocaching and the true treasure of Christ’s love and grace. For more information about geocaching, click here.]

GRANDPAUSE: Thy love is most unsearchable, and dazzles all above; They gaze, but cannot count or tell the treasures of Thy love! -Charles Wesley

You may also view this post on the Gospel Shaped Family website.

Setting the Pace for Grandkids

Impacting the Faith of Future Generations Through Family Devotions

I LOVE having my grandkids at my house for an overnight!  We watch movies, eat popcorn and stay up late playing card games.  It brings joy to my heart to love on these children.  But I know my “job” as a grandmother goes far deeper.  I have been called by the Lord to impact their young hearts for Him.  I cannot assume they will follow in my footsteps in the faith.

Do you know that 75% of children raised in Christian churches leave the church by the age of 25 (Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions)? These are the children who go to Sunday School every Sunday and become the leaders of their Youth Group. Yet statistics show once they live independently from their home, often they abandon their church and their faith.

Studies reveal that parents modeling and teaching their faith in the home are the number one influence encouraging their children to keep their faith.  Grandparents are a close second.  Surprisingly, youth pastors are a distant third source of impact. 

Yes, we grandparents have been assigned by the Lord the eternally important job of passing to our grandchildren our faith in Jesus Christ.

The question, then, for grandparents is how do we effectively impact the hearts of our grandchildren?  One of the most powerful ways is reading the Bible together.  I call these times “Family Devotions”.  These moments include reading a Bible story followed by prayer time.  Oh, I know life is hectic and busy.  It is easy to think we cannot cram one more thing into a day.  But time together in the presence of the Lord is invaluable.  It is worth every minute and every effort.  It builds a legacy of faith.

We begin our family time with one or two familiar songs. Next, we read our story.  As my grandchildren age, I transition from Bible storybooks to the Bible.  We talk for a few minutes about the meaning of the story.  Usually, I ask three questions.  What does this story (or passage) say about God?  What does it say about me?  What does it say about my relationship with God?  In the closing moments of our Devotions, we grab hands and pray.  Our prayers consist of some “thank you’s” followed by some “please help us, Lord, with …”.  The children often fill in the blanks.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Actually, it is.  Effective Family Devotions doesn’t require a long time.  Usually, shorter is better.  BUT we all have an Enemy who will diligently attempt to thwart the time between a grandparent and his grandchild in the presence of the Lord.  I know!  Personally, I struggle with this discipline.  Often, I am the one who is nodding off.  Not my four or five-year-old grandchild.

However, I am determined to stand strong.  I long to leave to my children and grandchildren a legacy of loving God’s Word.  One day, when I am in the full presence of the Lord and my family remains on the face of this earth, my prayer is that they will pick up their Bibles.  As the pace had been set in our Family Devotions, may they gather their family remembering the moments I read and prayed with them.  

 “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Deuteronomy 4:9

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

What Does Passion Week Mean to You?

There is no more important holiday celebration for those who are followers of Christ than the day we call Easter. While the origins of this name are not absolutely clear (some say it originated from the pagan goddess of Spring, Eostre; others think it is related to an old German word that meant ‘east’ or ‘dawn’), it is a name that has long been associated by many Christians with the day of Christ’s resurrection. Even so, I prefer calling it Resurrection Sunday.

Whatever name you prefer, it is the reason behind the existence of our faith. Our faith is founded upon the fact of Christ’s death and resurrection. Without the resurrection, our faith is meaningless or ‘futile’, according to Paul. It is the most important fact of human history we must teach our grandchildren.

With that in mind, I wonder what measures most of us take to prepare ourselves for this critical, celebratory day? I’m not simply talking about a liturgy (which can be very useful, by the way). This is about a personal journey to retrace the events of this week leading up to our Lord’s horrible crucifixion. I doubt we can begin to comprehend the price He paid for us. We rejoice in the Resurrection, but if we are to adequately teach our children and grandchildren the magnitude of the price our Savior paid for our sin debt, we ought to ponder the events of this Passion Week. 

To help you do that, I have listed some of the events in Jesus’ life during this week with Scripture references. I would encourage you to visit these passages each day and ponder the intentionality with which our Lord directed his steps toward the Cross. I have included a question for each day to help you process this Passion Week journey.

Palm Sunday (Matthew 21; Mark 11; Luke 19; John 2)

  1. Jesus rides on a colt into Jerusalem as the crowds shout “Hosanna! Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” 
  2. Spends the night in Bethany

Question: What does Jesus’ kingship really mean, and in what ways do you also miss what it means?

MONDAY (Mark 11:12-19)

  1. Back to Jerusalem 
  2. Jesus clears the Temple
  3. The Pharisees plot to kill Jesus

Question: The Bible says we are God’s Temple. Ask God to show you how you might be dishonoring that ‘temple’?

TUESDAY (Mark 11:20 – 13:35; Luke 20:1-21:36)

  1. Returns again to Jerusalem 
  2. Parable of the Tenants
  3. Paying taxes to Caesar
  4. Widow’s offering

Question: How do the teachings of Jesus in these passages reveal what Jesus’ mission was and how ought these to shape your life as a follower of Christ?

WEDNESDAY (Luke 21:37-38)

  1. More teaching in the Temple 
  2. Signs of the end of the age (Luke 21:5-36)
  3. Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16; Luke 22:1-6)

Question: As Jesus talked about signs for the end of the age, what do you think He meant by telling us to “keep watch”? How are you keeping watch?

THURSDAY (Matthew 26:17-75; Mark 14:12-72; Luke 22:7-65; John 13:1-18:27)

  1. Passover with the disciples
  2. Gethsemane
  3. The betrayal and arrest
  4. Before the Sanhedrin
  5. Peter’s Denial

Question: What did these different events of this day reveal to you about our Lord’s heart towards us, even in our weaknesses?

GOOD FRIDAY (Matthew 27:1-61; Mark 15:1-47; Luke 22:66-23:56; John 18:1-27)

  1. Judas hangs himself
  2. Before Pilate
  3. The crucifixion
  4. The burial

Question: As you ponder the excruciating agony our Lord suffered on this day, do you have a better grasp of the depth of suffering He endured for you? How does that impact how you live your life now and the importance of telling the next generations what He has done for us?

FaceTime with the Lord

Recently, I experienced the pleasure of FaceTime with my grown children. Since we are scattered across the East Coast, being together is a rarity. My sons arranged a FaceTime family gathering on a Sunday evening. Meanwhile, I texted my kids and told them to mark their calendars as the Jacobs were meeting face to face. At 8:00 p.m., I hit the link my son Chris sent me. Voilà! I saw his face. Over the next few minutes, the others joined. Soon my entire family was online together.

I started the conversation by asking one son a couple of questions. A few minutes later, I asked another one some questions. Quickly, the dialogue between my family members sprang forward. At that point, I reclined in my chair, listening to these siblings and their spouses chat, laugh, and poke fun at each other. With their faces scattered across my computer screen, I was thrilled to watch my loved ones interact with each other. For an hour, I basked in the joy of their company.

Rejoicing …

The next morning, I thanked the Lord for the opportunity to visit with my children. What a treasured evening it had been. Then I remembered a Bible verse I often use as I begin my time with the Lord. I turned in my Bible to Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (NIV 1984 edition, emphasis added).

In the past, I had struggled with the thought that the Lord delighted in me. I questioned if He actually enjoyed my presence. But that morning, for the first time, I understood His joy. Just as I delighted in spending time with my children, my heavenly Father delights in spending time with me. Imagine that! The Lord of the universe loves my company, and I love to read His Word because it fills His heart with joy.

The Power of the Word of God

Living in the twenty-first century, many of us lead hectic lives. Often we are over- committed and exhausted. Wisely, God tells us “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, emphasis added). One way to apply this verse is to read the Bible daily so God can strengthen our surrendered hearts to Him and equip us to navigate this frenetic world. If we desire to impact our children and grandchildren for the Lord, we need to establish a daily routine of meditating on His living Word. You could say it is “FaceTime” with the Lord.

Four Practical Steps

Many grandparents long to spend time studying and reading the Bible. However, they struggle with the logistics. I find it helpful to follow four practical steps. First, determine a reading schedule that is realistic for your current lifestyle. I start by asking the Lord to design my reading time. The second step is to use a Bible that is easy to read and understand. My favorite one is the New International Version (NIV). There are a number of excellent Bible translations. Your pastor or a sales person at a Christian bookstore may be able to recommend a Bible best suited for you. A third practical step for reading your Bible is to bring a notebook and pen to your quiet place. I find it helpful to jot down thoughts that come to me as I spend time with the Lord. The fourth step is to develop a reading plan. Often, I use a devotional book, a study guide or an online reading plan. It is important to establish a structure so I do not flounder when I start my quiet time. The structure keeps me on a timely tract.

Yes, “FaceTime” with the Lord is precious time in His presence. He has provided an amazing book called the Bible. It tells the most compelling story of all time, the story of the true God who longs to be with His people forever. He gave us this heavenly treasure so we can know how to run our earthly race. One
day we will see Him face-to-face. But until then, let us draw near to Him daily by reading and rereading His written Word. Remember, He delights in you. You bring joy to His heart and a smile to His face when you choose to “FaceTime” with Him.

For more information on “Reading the Bible Daily”, you can go to Catherine’s book, Pass the Legacy: 7 Keys for Grandparents Making a Difference at www.passthelegacy.com.

The Dangers of Social Media on Relationships

Did you know that 20 percent of divorces involve Facebook? As a Facebook user myself, I was not surprised by this statistic. Facebook’s convenient social engagement – sometimes couched in the privacy of a message inbox – is an excellent way to stay in contact with old friends. But this convenience is also why Facebook can be dangerous for marriage. Brenda and I have a continual conversation on this topic. Social media is largely harmless, but if not approached with discretion it leads many down a path of emotional (and even physical) infidelity. We are not blind to this potential – and you shouldn’t be either.

Social media may not always be used in positive ways. Understanding the pitfalls can help you be aware of the potential dangers of social media on today’s relationships. Darren Adamson, PhD, LMFT, Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northeastern University, lays out three potential dangers facing couples:

1.Social media serves as a distraction from focusing on the interactions that nurture relationships. “Social media use can become compulsive,” explains Adamson, “making it difficult to manage the amount of time spent on it.” In one study, American college students describe abstaining from social media the same way they describe drug and alcohol withdrawal—cravings, anxiety, feeling jittery.

2. People share their best lives on social media, so couples sometimes compare their mundane lives with other’s exciting lives, which can create destructive comparisons. “This can lead to discouragement with one’s primary relationship,” says Adamson. That discouragement can lead to conflict, fear, unrealistic expectations—why can’t you be like the partner portrayed in the social media posts? —or an overall discontentment with the relationship.

3. There is the potential for another relationship that looks so much better than the primary relationship. This can lead to extra-couple relationships that ultimately can destroy your marriage.

Guidelines for Maintaining a Healthy Balance Between Social Media and Relationships

As evidenced by couples who do use social media to their advantage, it is possible to have healthy relationships and be actively involved in social media. In fact, a 2013 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people who share information about their relationship on Facebook were comfortable in their relationship. However, that setting guidelines on how to effectively use social media can mean the difference between a healthy use of social media in a relationship and taking it into the danger zone.

1.Don’t use social media as a negative point of comparison for your relationship. If you feel compelled to make comparisons involving your relationship compare where your relationship is today with what it was like a year ago—or five or ten years ago for those in a long-term relationship. Let the results of the comparison prompt changes in behavior that can build your relationship.

2.Spend time nurturing your relationship. Do things that create closeness in your relationship and do them regularly without distraction. This means leaving the cell phone/tablet at home—out of sight and out of mind. The distraction factor is one of the biggest challenges with social media. According to a study by Scientific American, the presence of a cell phone/tablet can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships.

3. Do not maintain a separate social media life. Share your social media world with your husband or wife. Spouses should not just share passwords – they should keep no secrets on social media. All messages, groups, and statuses should be open to your spouse. Just as it would be unsafe to keep secrets with a “real life” friend of the opposite sex, it is equally dangerous to keep even the smallest secrets from your spouse online. This may seem extreme, but in the world of social media we cannot be too careful. The protection of a screen gives a false sense of security, privacy, and even intimacy. This is why Brenda and I have a continual conversation about our social media channels, updating one another on who messaged us, what we’ve said lately, and the news we’ve received.

Social media is a part of our modern society, but there are also dangers in social media if couples let it get out of control. One thing you must keep in mind that social media is exactly what the name implies—media. It is not a separate and distinct world. It does not sustain relationships, because it is based on virtual reality that, by its nature, is not able to support the activities required to make a relationship work. That is up to you as individuals, and it still requires old-fashioned hard work and time invested in your relationship to make it thrive!

When Equality Does not Mean Equality

I am not a political activist, nor do I intend to become one. There is a difference, however, between being an activist and standing up for the truth, especially when it is suppressed and impacts our children. That is never more necessary than when powerful people seek to change foundational truths created by our Creator in an attempt to shut down any conversations or disagreements about a matter of utmost importance.

Such is the case with a recent announcement by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to give its full support to the proposed Equality Act through a celebrity driven video campaign. Contrary to what its name implies, the Equality Act soon to be introduced by House Democrats proposes anything but equality. As Andrew Walker wrote for The Gospel Coalition, this bill represents the “most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America” and “equates Christian ethics with hatred and bigotry.”

You may be wondering why I would bother with this topic in a blog about grandparenting. The reason is simple: God instructs us to teach our grandchildren the truth. For two decades I have talked about and written about this biblical mandate God gave to parents and grandparents for all times. We are mandated to tell the next generations the truth about who God is, what God has done and why He has done it. That includes the truth about who we are as male and female created in God’s image.

Fight for the Truth

If another generation is to know the truth—ALL of God’s truth, including what He says about sexuality and gender—it won’t be because our politicians and lawmakers are proclaiming it. It won’t be because celebrities promote it. It will be because godly men and women boldly and faithfully make it known generation to generation. But let us also remember that we teach and fight for what is true because it is true, not because it suits us or our ‘cause’.

We are responsible to teach our grandchildren the Gospel and the truth about things like God’s view of sexuality and gender. When a culture or a nation forces a lie on our children, we need to fight for the truth. That does not mean being vicious, unkind or unwilling to listen to other opinions. It does mean knowing what is true and boldly standing up for what is true, not just for Christians, but for all men.

Andrew Walker is right when he says, “Christians need to do a much better job of explaining the rationale and merits of their beliefs around gender and sexuality. We do not believe these are sectarian truths applicable only to Christians. Rather, we believe how God patterned creation in Genesis is the blueprint for human flourishing. If we don’t contend for the legitimacy and rationality of our views, they’ll end up being sidelined as intolerant and harmful—to the detriment of all.”

So, grandparents, I encourage you to engage with your grandchildren about these matters. Be ready to explain what God says and why it is important to believe what he says. Below are links to two articles I recommend reading, and a book I believe can be helpful to you in these conversations. These are conversations we need to have because they are conversations others are already initiating with your grandchildren in the public arena. We can’t afford to be lulled asleep on these matters for the sake of our grandchildren.

Important Resources

The Equality Act Accelerates Anti-Christian Bias by Andrew Walker

BreakPoint: The Equality Act vs. Religious Freedom by John Stonestreet

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet

GRANDPAUSE: Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.(Nehemiah 4:14)

Smartphone Conversations for Grandparents

Do you ever grow tired of the constant intrusion of smartphones in everyday life? Have dinner time conversations with your grandchildren been reduced to tweeting and texting activity while face-to-face human interactions almost come to a halt?

Few grandparents have much to say about whether their grandchildren are allowed smartphones, let alone when and how they use them. Mom and Dad have primary responsibility for how it’s played out. Everywhere, that is, except in your home space. 

Grandparents, you are in a position to determine the parameters for smartphone use in your home, if you are willing to set an example. You are the king and queen of your home, and you can help change the way your grandchildren think about and use their smartphones. It requires some intentionality and grace, and perseverance.

Before I share some ideas, you must first believe you can have a transformational impact in your grandchildren’s lives, even when you are not living close by. The Bible makes it very clear that grandparents are just as important as parents in teaching and training our grandchildren to walk in the truth. If your grandchildren are young, you can establish that influence early on by reading Bible stories and other good stories with them, and by talking with them about both the good things and the dangers of technology.

If your grandchildren are older grade schoolers and teens, we may assume they don’t want to hear anything grandma and grandpa have to say. That will be true if we only criticize and “preach” at them about stuff we don’t like. If, on the other hand, we establish an atmosphere of trust and vulnerability (we can still learn some things too), the opportunities are there to engage them with conversations that cause them to think more judiciously about the choices they make. 

Now, for a few ideas regarding smartphones in your home…

  1. Assess your worldview about God’s creation. Does it line up with Scripture or culture? If  God created man in HIs image, he also created him to create good things. Does that include technology, or is it inherently evil? Like all of God’s creation, it is good, but like everything else it is under sin’s curse. Still, if the bad side of technology is all you talk about, your grandchildren will have little interest in hearing what you have to say. That’s why the Gospel is so significant. God can redeem even technology. 
  2. Determine to be tech-savvy.Know what you’re talking about. You don’t need to be an expert, but invest some serious time in learning about the capabilities, dangers and purposes of smartphones. A smartphone is not neutral. It has a specific purpose—communication, but it also has an accompanying power to influence thinking and action. Do you know how to have conversations with your grandchild about these things? If not, I recommend you check out this free resource produced by AXIS Ministries. You might also want to share it with the parents of your grandchildren.
  3. Build a culture of blessing in your home.Make it a regular practice to intentionally speak a word of blessing over each of your grandchildren when the opportunity arises. There are so many negative messages coming at them. Your words of blessing and value as image-bearers of God can be transformational. We have a free download called Creating a Legacy of Blessing that can help you make the most of this tool.
  4. Establish meaningful guidelines for smartphone use in your home. Here are ways to build a focus on relationships and less technology dependence. I call them Tech-Free Zones or Recess Periods:
    • Family Table: Let it be understood that mealtime is set aside for family interaction. No smartphones or other devices are welcome at the family table. This is too valuable a time to allow smartphones to disrupt.
    • Other tech-free zones/recess periods: When the grandkids come to visit, help them understand the value of personal interaction by creating tech-free recess periods (pre-planned activities) in which smartphones are turned off and put away out of temptations reach. Here are some examples: baking cookies together, reading a book, working on a puzzle, sharing stories. You probably have a lot more ideas you could create for doing life together without smartphone interference.
    • Special Outings: If your grandchildren are old enough, plan for some outings with them where smartphones are not allowed (assign one person in charge of the emergency phone). These could be visits to a museum, zoo, play, picnic, etc. Make plans for things they would enjoy doing, but no smartphones allowed.

(You’ll find a few other suggestions in my book: Courageous Grandparenting)

Grandparents, you can tell yourself that it is not your responsibility to teach your grandkids about their use of smartphones or any other technology. But that is cop out. God’s design is that we should work together—parents and grandparents—to train up a child to walk in the truth.

If you and your adult children are not on the same page about this, make sure you are on the same page with God’s truths about life and His creation. Ask God for wisdom and understanding to help your grandchildren avoid the dangers and make the most of technology for God’s glory and purposes.

How to Make Sure You Don’t Drown in Shallow Water

Have you ever known someone recognized for doing so many good things throughout their life, only to end up in late life doing something so very foolish that it discredits everything they’ve done before?

As grandparents, that’s the last thing we want to happen in our lives. Yet, it is not inconceivable to do something foolish in our later years which, in the eyes of our grandchildren, invalidates everything we claim to be true. The thoughts of such a thing probably horrifies all of us. How do we make sure that does not happen?

At the Legacy Coalition Summit in February, Crawford Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA, spoke from 1 Kings 2:1:4 as a reminder that, while there are no guarantees when it comes to legacies, we must remain diligent as the ‘incarnation of God’s mission.’He reminded us that you and I could be the last voice of our generation that our grandchildren will ever hear. We want that voice to be heard and taken seriously.

Because that is important to us, Pastor Loritts takes us to this passage when David knew it was his time to die so we might learn for such a time as ours. I believe the message he delivered at the Summit is one every grandparent who is a Christ follower needs to hear.

He shows us three important things David wanted Solomon to remember as he was taking over the throne. These are things we also must remember if we are to be that incarnation of God’s mission for another generation. Here’s how Crawford Loritts presents them:

  1. Live courageously!  David says it this way: “Be strong and show yourself a man.” Remember, Solomon did not grow up with the same hardships and challenges that his father did. Solomon lived in a palace with all the attention and privileges of a royal heir. David knew this could pose a problem for Solomon, so he reminds him that he must become what the position requires. We are all called to courageously step to the plate and rise to the call God gives each of us, which is usually stuff over our heads. It takes courage to do the right thing, especially when so many other voices would encourage easier options.
  2. Live obediently! David tells his son to “observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in His ways and keep His decrees and commands…” (vs. 3).  Here’s the thing, we don’t have the option of picking and choosing those parts of God’s truth we like and ignoring the rest. We dare not communicate to our grandchildren that biblical truth is reserved only for weekend church services. They need to know that God’s Word is what directs all our life, that He is Sovereign, that He made you, and that He alone gives us the positions we have in life. If we want our grandchildren to walk in the truth, we must also walk in it—all of it.
  3. Live faithfully! “Walk faithfully before me [God]” and teach your descendants to do the same because it matters. David wanted Solomon to understand that greatness is not a product of orchestrating your own life. It is the product of faithfulness to God and others. We are called in Christ to faithfulness. That means we must put on ‘blinders’ when it comes to anything else that would distract us from that faithfulness (something Solomon failed to do in his later years).

We may point our fingers at Solomon’s unfaithfulness in the end, but we too must guard ourselves from selling our souls to images we create of greatness. Pastor Loritts reminded us that greatness is not about our gifting—something grossly overrated. It is about our faithfulness—something often tragically underrated. Faithfulness, in the end, will solidify our legacy–that which endures after us. Unfaithfulness will disintegrate it.

These are good words worth pondering and putting into practice. Let us not grow weary in well-doing lest we drown in shallow water when our life counts most. May you leave an enduring legacy worth outliving you. 

NOTE: The video of this session with Pastor Crawford Loritts will be available soon. Click here to watch for this and other plenary speaker sessions you can download.