Every parent thinks about what their children will become. When they grow up, will they be successful? Will they make it? Will they be well off? We think of the types of investments we would deposit into their lives, like their education, training, extracurricular activities, etc. The truth is every parent, whether good or bad, makes these legacy choices. The ones mentioned above are not bad, but they are not the most important.
We are preparing them for a future time. Legacy is more than success; it is their character that has been instilled in them. Character matters more than worldly success. Just like Jesus said, “You can gain the whole world yet forfeit your soul” (Mark 8:36). You can be successful and have lousy character. You can have it all and yet lack integrity. You can have a great outward appearance but be tarnished by the ravages of sin and be so hollow inside. What matters is the type of man or woman they become. More than grades, more than being the star athlete or the gifted musician, we should be all about building their character, which is built by looking to the Founder and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
I agree with Senator Ben Sasse, who wrote in his excellent book, The Vanishing American Adult, “Genuine character-building can’t be taught. It has to be lived and breathed and struggled with—modeled and mentored.” We can’t put this responsibility solely on the schools or the church. Character, which is modeled and mentored, comes from the home and the godly community.
We can see in the book of 1 Kings the legacy that David wanted to leave Solomon his son, who would be the next king.
“When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, ‘I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, “If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel”’” (1 Kings 2:1–4 ESV).
We can be exhorted to leave the right legacy for our children and grandchildren.
David was going to die; he knew his time was coming to an end and he wanted to give his son some wise, encouraging words before he died.
He said to Solomon, “Be strong and show yourself a man.” Being a king was tough, being a king was hard, but ultimately being a man of God is even harder. Whether you are a parent of boys or girls, our desire should be to raise godly children to be courageous in their faith. I can picture Joshua exclaiming boldly before Israel, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the lord…for he is our God” (Joshua 24:15, 18). This is something that is not just said, but lived out.
As Christians, we live in spiritual warfare; parenting is spiritual warfare. That is why it’s hard! We must train our children not only to survive in this world, but how to be courageous and bold as young men or women who love Jesus and hate sin.
Pastor Crawford Loritts said, “From the time our kids are babies we must whisper in their ears they were born for the glory of God.” This is our purpose and we must teach, train, and model this before our children.
Our desire for our children is more than protection; it’s pursuing God. We do not coddle our children but raise them in conviction for truth. This can be hard in a world that is denying truth, but take courage and live it out even when you stand alone. The best way to teach is by getting one’s hands dirty. Let’s scrape knuckles and get some callouses in living courageously for the Lord!
David told Solomon to keep the commands of the Lord. David loved God’s Word and wanted Solomon to love it too. When you love God’s Word, you want to obey God’s Word. We are commanded to obey the Word of the Lord (Luke 11:28; James 1:19–25). But when you stand in awe of who God is, and that His love for you is steadfast, you look at obedience out of joy.
To live obediently requires parents to love and live out the Word of God. You cannot expect your children to do something that you yourself have not committed to doing. Do you live by obeying the Word of God? Do you love and live out the Word of God?
It is never too late. Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, or not yet a parent, now is a good time to live out these truths. I love that the Bible tells us to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:15–16). By God’s grace, we can redeem the time that has been lost in neglecting your responsibilities as a parent. We can look forward with joy instead of looking back in regret.
An offshoot of obedience is faithfulness. Though pointed in the same direction, they are different. Obedience is from the command of God to go forward, faithfulness is going forward with trust in God. Obedience is going forward in God’s command while faithfulness is obeying continually by abiding in Christ. Both involve action and are not passive. God gives us His grace to continue in both.
As Pastor Crawford Loritts said in one of his messages about legacy, “Remember where you came from and what you have. Remember what has been placed in your hands. Do what is right, even when times are difficult.”
Be faithful as the times ahead will be difficult (for example, 2 Timothy 3:1–9). The waves of our culture will be crashing down hard, but we must remain faithful. One theme throughout the New Testament is that of faithfulness (Matthew 24:13; Matthew 25:23; 2 Peter 2:19; 5:9). What a great hope, that one day our Father in Heaven will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Don’t lose hope or get tired of doing good, for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up! (Galatians 6:9).
Let this be our prayer!
*Alyssa and I have been blessed to be able to attend the ERCL National Conference on Parenting. These notes have been adapted from a message given by Pastor Crawford Loritts.