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Using Proverbs to Teach Your Grandkids

I am pleased to have permission from my friend, Dr. Ken Canfield, to share this article he recently published through his newsletter, GrandKidsMatter. If you are not a current subscriber, I encourage you to do so today. Dr. Canfield offers grandparents some sage advice about the wisdom of proverbs and maxims for teaching God’s truth to our grandchildren in his article entitled, Teach Your Grandkids with Proverbs and Maxims.

Reprinted by permission of Dr. Ken Canfield, founder and president of the National Association for Grandparenting (now GrandKidsMatter.org)…

“You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“Many hands make light work.”

“Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

“Pretty is as pretty does.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

“Take time to smell the roses.”

“Trouble shared is a trouble halved.”

Did you ever hear your grandparents say any of these? Or maybe your parents?

Every family seems to have a collection of much used sayings. My wife, Dee, and I undoubtedly made our children sick of a certain adage or two through the years. Some would consider statements these mere clichés, but if you drill down a bit, you’ll find some real wisdom. They tend to be short and memorable enough to stick with us for many years—and that goes for our grandkids too.

One great thing about those wise sayings that stick is that it’s easy to remember the saying even if we don’t yet fully appreciate the truth behind it. Maybe years later we’ll go through a rough patch, and that old maxim will come to mind. Or maybe the memory will come alive when you hear Grandmother’s voice or find yourself at the place where she said it.

Also, these maxims can convey nuggets of wisdom in a few words, so there’s less chance we’ll bore our grandkids or make them feel like we’re preaching at them.

What simple truths. like the examples above, have made a difference in your life, your thinking, and/or your character?

There is great value in those everyday pieces of wisdom, but we can’t stop there when it comes to teaching our grandchildren. If you’re a person of faith, there is added depth when the bit of wisdom they remember us speaking over and over is from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. Discussing those proverbs may be one of the best things I’ve done with my grandchildren.

I’ll start talking about a particular verse or nugget of wisdom, and pretty soon we’re having a longer conversation about it. Here are some examples:

  • Proverbs 28:19: Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
  • Proverbs 15:2: The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
  • Proverbs 12:19: Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
  • Proverbs 16:8: Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.
  • Proverbs 15:32: Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.

See what I mean? Honestly, you could pull out just about any verse from that book of the Bible and find a truth worth talking about with your grandchild—possibly explaining some things to a younger child. Also, if you can include a personal story from your life to illustrate the point, that truth can come alive and have an incredible impact on your grandkids.

Bottom line, we all want to impact our grandchildren positively and leave a legacy with them. We want to teach them important principles for life as well as let them know more about who we are and what we believe. These kinds of proverbs and maxims can help us accomplish both of those goals. Start (or continue) using these tools with your grandkids.

What are the sayings and proverbs that mean the most to you, that you have shared or would like to share with your grandkids? 

[Adapted from Dr. Ken Canfield’s book, The HEART of Grandparenting. Get your copy today!]

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 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)

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.

What Does it Mean to be a Gospel Shaped Grandparent?

After a speaking session about intentional grandparenting, a grandmother approached me to say how much she appreciated my emphasis on intentionality. “I’ve decided to be intentional about getting my granddaughter to come to church with me. If I can just get her to church, she will be exposed to the Bible and the Gospel.”

As I explored this more with her, it became clear that this grandmother did not understand her responsibility to share the Gospel with her granddaughter. It was the reason she was so determined to find a way to get her to church, so the “professionals” could do it right.

That was ten years ago, and it awakened me to the sad reality that too many grandparents have a similar misunderstanding of their responsibility to their grandchildren. “If I can just get my grandkids to church, then everything will work out” is a common notion. I realized that more emphasis needed to be place on understanding what the Gospel really is and our responsibility to talk about it in our own families. I also realized we need to know what it means for our lives to be shaped by that Gospel. 

You will often hear me use Gospel-shapedas a description for biblical grandparenting. It is also the motivational factor for the title of this blog and my signature book—Courageous Grandparenting. Additionally, it is why I have chosen to work closely with my friend at Renewanation, Josh Mulvihill. We are working with several ministry partners to build the Gospel Shaped Family web site where discipleship resources, blogs and events will be collected to encourage and equip Gospel-shaped parenting and grandparenting. 

Five Essentials

So, what does it mean to be a gospel-shaped grandparent? Here are five essential things I believe describe the essence of what it means:

  1. It means having a clear grasp of how the Bible defines Gospel.
    • The Gospel is the good news that by God’s grace I am saved FROM His wrath, deserved judgment, and just condemnation for my sin—an egregious offense against His holiness.
    • The Gospel means new birthin which I am saved FOR good works. I am made alive in Christ to display His glory and bless others.
  2. It means a new way of thinking, living and seeingthrough the lens of a biblical worldview(seeing the world and all of creation as God made it). It is the way of truth in which my mind is renewed, my life is marked by a desire to magnify Christ in everything I do or say, and repentance is a perquisite to wholeness. The Gospel so transforms me that great joy springs from an all-satisfying delight in Him. My driving desire is to make much of Christ in the eyes of my grandchildren and others I encounter.
  3. It means my desire to share the Gospel with my family, including grandchildren and great grandchildren, is priority #1. I will not outsource to others what is my responsibility as one of the most influential people in my grandchild’s life. It is mine and I take it seriously.
  4. It means my life is driven, not by despair over the condition of the world, but by hope in the promises of Godand my eternal reward. I follow Christ and His commands knowing He is with me and has given me everything I need to fulfill His purposes through me believing that a glorious inheritance awaits me.
  5. It means prayer is my first offensive and defensive weaponry against the schemes of the enemy, and my declaration that I am utterly dependent upon the power of God to do through me more than I could ever imagine or think.

As a grandparent, does your life bear witness of these vital realities? Is your approach to grandparenting shaped more by Gospel transformation or cultural validation? It takes courage to embrace the former. And, while a Gospel-shaped life is no guarantee your grandchildren will respond to the truth, there is little doubt that those whose lives are transformed by the Gospel will make an impact because God who is at work in you.

May God give you sufficient courage so that now and always Christ will be exalted in you… for the sake of another generation who needs to know the truth that the Gospel really does set us free.