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This podcast is an overview of what I taught the good folks at Marco Presbyterian Church on Marco Island, Florida, during our conference, training, equipping week in July 2019. They asked me to do one session on grandparenting, so I put this overview together, along with several supplemental resources so you can do a deeper dive into parenting, grandparenting, and exporting God’s kindness to you to the next generation.
Grandparents grew up in a time when people valued work, shunned laziness, knew what it meant to honor others, and found satisfying pleasure in serving their communities. More importantly, they loved God and found great joy in gathering at their local churches to worship the Lord and care for each other.
We don’t live in that world any longer, which is why it’s imperative for these older saints to be active exporters of the practicalized message of Jesus Christ.
If you want to read more on the fallout of fatherlessness, please study the articles linked in these Show Notes, and watch this vital video on how parents can fall down on the job when it comes to rearing boys and girls.
The Important Role of Fathers
The primary role of a father is to model God the Father to his children (Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9), as he leads them to the Lord, where the child will experience wholeness (Colossians 1:28). A dad does this by “answering” a child’s most important questions, which you can extrapolate from the creation account of Adam and Eve in the first two chapters of the Bible.
Questions – For the boy, it’s about his identity and role as a man:
Questions – For the girl, it’s about her desire to follow and support the man:
Because children cannot assign multiple labels to similar things, they attach one label to things of like “kind.” This concept is called mutual exclusivity. Meaning, if there are different iterations of the same kind, a child will call all of them by one label, e.g., the word “soda” can mean all soft drinks.
Illustration: The TV show, Blues Clues, taught my daughter that all paw prints are blue. Thus, anytime she saw a paw print, she knew it was “blues clues” regardless of the size or color because she learned about paw prints from the first one she ever saw.
When a child learns what a father is like, they assign their understanding of a father to all fathers, even God the Father. This truth about mutual exclusivity is why it’s imperative for a father to show a child who God the Father is, which he can do by modeling the answers to their most pressing questions.
Illustrations: I had a crying counselee who would not trust God because she thought that He was like her father. I knew a man who longed for his father’s approval, which is why he became a legalist: he believed he had to perform to please God to keep the Lord from becoming angry at him.
When children do not experience their father’s attention and affirmation, they will seek it from other means, whether it’s the opposite sex, athletics, academics, unique gifting, charisma, work ethic, or relating to the wrong crowd.
Boys will feel accepted and affirmed through their strengths and abilities, and girls will feel “love and safety” from those who show it to them, no matter who that person is or how ungodly their agenda may be toward that girl. It’s vital for grandfathers to understand these dynamics so they can provide their grandchildren with a more accurate reflection of who God the Father is.
Who Is a Father? A “grandfather” does not have to have children. Being “fatherly,” like God the Father, does not have to mean you have children. It means that you’re a “fatherly” man.
A fifteen-year-old boy can be fatherly, as he emulates God the Father in love, serving, helping, kindness, discretion, courage, faith, perseverance, and self-control, to mention a few things that should exemplify fatherly men. A man with no children can be a better “father figure” than a father with children.
The older women of the church have a job that is just as challenging, as they teach the girls, teens, and young women what it means to be a godly woman, wife, and mother. We are long past the time where girls have learned what it means to be godly women. There are few biblical templates for biblical womanhood in our culture, including the church, which is why the older women need to be exporting their wisdom to these younger ones.
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As the older men, whether they are fathers or not, are teaching the boys and girls what God the Father is like, the older women must be leading the young women into a better understanding of biblical womanhood.
Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 3:6 that he planted, Apollos watered, and it was the Lord who caused the growth. A critical struggle for grandparents, as they think about their children, is their lack of trusting God to work in the lives of their children, which is typically manifested by over-worrying about them.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:24-25 that God grants repentance. He’s saying that you can’t change anyone; it’s God’s job to change an individual, so your anxiety about a child’s lack of change does not help, albeit it is a commentary regarding your thoughts about God.
Learn to Entrust to God and Carefully Obey
Rick Thomas leads a training network for Christians to assist them in becoming more effective soul care providers. RickThomas.Net reaches people around the world through consulting, training, podcasting, writing, counseling, and speaking.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).