What do your children and grandchildren know about you?
I don’t mean where you were born, and what school you went to, interesting though that might be. What do they know about what God has been doing in your life and what he is doing right now?
Some years ago, a friend and mentor said to me, “Be sure you spend good time with your sons during your teenage years.” I took his advice, and during their high school years I made the habit of spending one evening each week with one of our two boys. We would head to the shops, play tennis, or enjoy a good Chicago hot dog together.
In addition to our family times, my wife Karen and I both found that we were able to engage our children in a different and deeper conversation when we were with them one-on-one. Now that we are grandparents, we will soon have the opportunity of doing something similar with our grandchildren.
10 Things Your Children and Grandchildren Need to Know About You
Paul had a close mentoring relationship with his young apprentice, Timothy, and his description of what Timothy knew about him gives a helpful framework for some great conversations:
You…know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings…Yet the Lord rescued me from them all. (2 Timothy 3:10-11, NIV)
These verses give a checklist of 10 things you want your children and grandchildren to know about you.
1. Your teaching
What do you believe about the Bible, about the effects of sin in the human personality, about who Jesus is, and why he died and rose? What about the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, about the church, baptism and communion, and our glorious hope in the second coming of our Lord?
2. Your way of life
What has weighed most heavily in the choices that have shaped your lifestyle? There’s a great conversation to be enjoyed here about the value of living within your means, and the way you make choices about your use of money.
3. Your purpose
How would you describe the great purpose of your life? How have you pursued (or not pursued) that in the past, and how are you pursuing it now?
4. Your faith.
Where in your life have you most had to trust God?
5. Your patience
Where have you had to be especially patient in your life, and what did you learn when what you sought was long delayed?
6. Your love
Who and what do you love the most? This question opens up a great opportunity to affirm your love for your family, the Lord, and his people.
7. Your endurance
When did you find it especially difficult to persevere in something that God was calling you to do, and how did you find the strength to keep going?
8. Your persecutions
Where have you endured hardship that came into your life because you were serving the Lord? Your children and grandchildren will know that following Christ is always costly. What they need to grasp is that it is always worth it.
9. Your sufferings
How have you suffered in your life, and how has the Lord helped you in your suffering?
10. Your deliverance
Paul speaks about how God rescued him from all the afflictions that he faced. How has the Lord rescued or delivered you?
How to Start These Conversations
One way to get started would be to tell your children or grandchildren about this verse, and suggest that when you are together, you would like to have 10 conversations that mirror those Paul would have had with Timothy.
You could use the questions above to start these conversations, and after you have taken the lead in sharing your experience, you could ask your child or grandchild to respond by sharing theirs. Hearing them open up about what they believe and where they struggle will be a great blessing to you and to them.
You have more to share with your children and grandchildren than you may think, and they may have more interest in hearing than you might expect.
[This article is adapted from Pastor Colin’s June 2017 column in Mature Living Magazine.]