What Kind Of Legacy Will You Leave Behind?

Sermon on Parenting, based on the teachings from the book of Proverbs – by Pastor John Truax – Sunday 13th July, 2104

In the Collins English Dictionary, the word “legacy” is defined as a “thing handed down to a successor.” People leave behind legacies of all kinds, some that are proudly inherited and others that do nothing but hurt those that they are passed on to.

If you are in a phase of life where you still have children at home, and therefore have the opportunity to still make an impact in their lives, then don’t waste another day neglecting to spend time with them – get busy teaching and imparting to them all of the Godly values that you trust will guide them throughout their lifetimes.

In his sermon last week, Pastor John Truax gave everyone who attended, a glass marble. Then, as we sat in anticipation, wondering what we were to do with the marble, he put out on display a large container filled to the rim with more marbles. He asked us all to take a guess at how many marbles were in the container, and after a few incorrect guesses he confirmed that the total was actually 936.

So what did 936 represent, exactly? Well, from the day our children are born, to the day they are 18 years of age there are 936 weeks. That’s how much time most parents have to invest in their kids and start creating the type of family legacy they hope to leave behind. 936 weeks may sound like a long time, and the marble jar may look full at first, but it’s amazing how quickly those marbles start to disappear.

So, if you still have kids at home (if there are still some marbles left in the jar), don’t waste what time you have left! Just be sure however that you’re very clear on how you want to lead them. The bible says that when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, that their journey to the Promised Land turned into 40 years of “aimless” wandering. If we’re not careful, we’ll also lead our kids aimlessly into adulthood, and fail to equip them with a spiritual and eternal mindset.

Sadly, the latest set of statistics suggest that this type of parenting in Christian households may be fairly common. The majority of young Christians are apparently leaving the church as soon as they’re old enough to go off to college or work. It’s not that they aren’t hearing enough of God’s word, but more likely that they are hearing more about other things. They are proving true the theory that people are largely influenced by those they associate with the most. That means that no matter what we teach our kids at home, our words will have little impact if our time spent with them is far less than the time they spend with their friends or any other individuals or groups.

Let’s also not forget about the influence of television, movies, and the internet. These too, can flood our children’s minds with information and images that influence them far more than anything they hear from us or from their youth pastors at church. It’s so critical that we become their main source of “input,” and lead them into an intimate and rock solid relationship with God.

Is it enough though to simply spend more time with our kids, and tell them what we want them to know about God’s word? And to send them to Sunday School and Youth Group each week? The statistics say “no!” In addition to these things we need to also set the example.

When we read our bibles and pray, and when we tithe and give to charitable donations, or when we generously reach out to help a family in need, we are honoring God. But if these acts of faith and kindness are not seen by our children, they are of no benefit to them. Deuteronomy 6:7 says that we are to impress these things upon our children, and the most powerful way to do so is to openly demonstrate daily what it is to live a Christian life, and then encourage our kids to do these things with us.

Discipline is also a necessary and loving aspect of parenting. Proverbs 3:12 tells us that God disciplines those He loves, and in Proverbs 22:15 we learn that discipline can drive out from a child a defiant and foolish nature. Motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, adds further words of wisdom by saying that “The pain of discipline weighs ounces, but regret weighs tons.”

Just recently, my twenty year old daughter experienced firsthand what a child without discipline looks like. When asked to look after a 5 year old girl who she had never babysat before, the girl’s mother gave instructions to refrain from using the word “no.” The mother explained that the word “no” carried negative connotations and that she preferred to use words that gave her daughter options. Needless to say, her 5 year old was one of the most difficult and defiant children my daughter has ever had to take care of, and I can only imagine what manner of “options” that little girl will choose for herself as she gets older.

Parenting is by no means easy, but we only get one shot at it and this is exactly what Pastor Truax hoped to emphasize when he gave each of us a marble to take home. Mine is in the front pocket of my handbag, and it is to be a reminder that the marble jar will soon be empty. It’s not too late to make a difference however, and create the kind of family legacy that the bible challenges us to.

One way to get started is to build momentum. In his book More Than Enough, Dave Ramsey talks about the concept of “momentum.” He explains how focus and intensity creates momentum, and how momentum in turn can be so powerful that it can carry over from generation to generation. If we make an effort to zone in and focus on what little time we have with our kids, with such an intensity that it forces the kind of momentum described above, then there is hope of the tide turning and the statistics changing.

Let’s leave our kids a legacy that we can be proud of, and that they can be proud of, and that ultimately God will be proud of. To hear God one day say to us, the same words that He said to His son – “You are my son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased” – is something that all Christian parents can strive for.

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