Four Biblical Truths to Pass Down to the Next Generation
My daughter Sydney (21 months old) started talking when she was just eleven months old. After mastering “Momma,” her first true words were “Bye… Bye…” She coupled this with a big hand wave and kisses blown as someone walked out the door. The best part of her adorable farewell was the deep Texas twang that came with the Byyye Byyye.
Where did she learn to draw out her vowels like a southern belle? We all laughed at her cute country accent until the moment I heard myself say goodbye to some friends and recognized the same deep twang escape my lips. My “bye ya’ll” lingered on … and on … and on like Reese Witherspoon’s in Sweet Home Alabama.
The sound coming out of my mouth stopped me dead in my tracks—my daughter learned how to talk from listening to me!! Although I haven’t lived in East Texas for nearly two decades, I would have sworn to you that I left my southern accent behind me years ago. Let’s just say you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl!
Yep, I was 100% responsible for the country twang emanating from my baby girl.
You’re probably thinking, of course, you are! I know this should be an obvious observation, but for some reason, I needed that ear-opening moment to grasp the power of imitation. Whether in the realm of parenting or discipleship or mentoring, the old saying proves true … more is “caught than taught.”
As redeemed women of God, how we live out the Gospel in front of our kids or those whom we are mentoring has a far greater impact than our words alone. They are watching, listening, absorbing, and modeling the way we love Jesus and make him known to the world. So whether you are a youth or college leader, church small group leader, or a momma hauling carpool, those whom the Lord has placed in our sphere of influence learn to follow Christ by the example we set for them.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Imitate me as I Imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) He understood that all the Bible studies, sermons, podcasts, and scripture memory we pass on are wonderful, but there is power in modeling a deep devotion, personal holiness, and the Spirit-filled life for those in our sphere of influence.
I’ve been thinking a great deal about the specific things I want my kids and those whom I mentor to “catch” from my life. While my daughter and bonus- boys may hear me speak at conferences or teach at church, I need to be mindful that the greatest impact I have is not found on a platform or behind a microphone, it is how I live life with them. Therefore, here are four Biblical truths I’m praying to pass on to my kids and those I mentor.
Four Biblical Truths to Model For the Next Generation:
- Confess Quickly—As Christ followers, we all still struggle against sin and fight temptation. That being said, one of the best things we can model is a life of confession. What this means is that we are quick to confess when we sin and bring our weaknesses to Jesus.I learned this truth from a woman who once mentored me. She was one of the godliest women I’ve ever known, and she raised four kids who all love Jesus. I asked her one time what was her secret to raising kids who love the Lord. She said, “confess quickly.” She explained that she would stop and apologize to her children when she sinned and often she would confess to them her own need for Jesus. Rather than living a life of legalistic rule following, she modeled dependence on Jesus for the power to live the Christian life. Likewise, we want those who would imitate us to watch us rely on Jesus for everything. When we daily profess our need for him and confess our sin quickly and honestly, then those under our influence learn to take their weaknesses to Him too.
- Forgive Easily—My pastor, Matt Surber said recently, “We come to the cross to be forgiven, we stay at the cross to forgive others.” We are all hurt, wounded, offended, rejected, overlooked, and downright mistreated at times. How we responded to these offenses is one of the biggest lessons we pass on to others.I’m blessed by two parents who forgive easily. As a result, we have a large, loud, over-the-top extended family who all still love each other and spend time together despite our crazy cocktail of personalities and sin natures. Not one of us is perfect, but we love each other fiercely and are quick to forgive the imperfections we see in others.I didn’t realize how rare my family bond was until I began to meet others who don’t have a relationship with their siblings or some past offense severed the connection with a parent. While some legitimate wounds do call for healthy separation, for most offenses we can offer grace and reconciliation.My parents’ choice to operate in a realm of forgiveness modeled for me a lifestyle of grace. I learned to imitate them and want to pass this Biblical truth on to my kids, ministry team, and those whom I mentor. Extending grace and forgiveness is not only obeying Jesus, but it also keeps toxic drama far from your doorstep.
- Give Generously—The people who’ve had the most significant impact on my life for Christ are those who are generous with their time, talents, and treasure. A lifestyle of generosity is one that says, “Everything I have belongs to Jesus.” This posture means we are quick to give our time when it is required, share our homes, food, or possessions with others because we know we are only stewards of these resources. As I’ve watched others live open-handed before God, I’ve learned what it means to be a steward of God’s resources.As I raise my daughter, I am aware of the pull of materialism and selfishness in this world. I realize she will watch our family and imitate what she sees. My prayer is that she sees us give our time joyfully to serve Christ, give our money faithfully to the church and those in need, and consistently open our home to the stranger and outsider.
- Praise Continuously– We are wired to worship. One thing the Lord convicted me of this past year is the power of the tongue.The Bible says “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) With our mouths, we can praise God and fill our homes with an atmosphere of thanksgiving, or we can complain and create an atmosphere of negativity.While I’m far from perfect in this arena, one thing I hope to hand down to my daughter is an attitude of gratitude. I want her to grow up in a home where Jesus is praised, God is thanked for each blessing, and where we look at our circumstances (good or bad) with the eyes that see God’s goodness and sovereignty.
One of the sweetest gifts the Lord has given me is my daughter. While Sydney’s a handful and keeps me running, nothing gives me greater joy than taking her to church. While she’s not even two years old, she loves to sing loudly and lifts her hands during worship. Yes, I know she doesn’t fully understand what is going on, she is just imitating what she sees mom and dad do, but my heart still floods with gratefulness that at her young age she is learning to worship.
Just as she learned to lift her hands and sing to Jesus from watching us do so, I know that she’s also observing us and learning a lifestyle of worship outside of the walls of the church. How we love, give, forgive, confess, and express gratefulness is teaching her what it means to love God and live for His glory.
Whether you are a mom, mentor, teacher, aunt, or coach, the ones God places within our sphere of influence are watching. Our calling is to echo the Apostle Paul and say, “imitate me as I imitate Christ.”