Psalm 22:4-5, 30-31 - In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. …Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it.
It has been said the problem with living is that it’s so daily. The same could be said of parenting. Whether it’s getting your children to eat their vegetables, clean their rooms, do their schoolwork, or have good manners, parenting is daily. Consistency and intentionality are absolutely required. And in no area of parenting is this truer than in the passing on of our faith – our beliefs, worldview, values, character, conduct, etc., to our children.
What we’re talking about is spiritual reproduction.
A primary truism about spiritual reproduction is this: We can’t reproduce what we aren’t ourselves. Cats aren’t going to reproduce dogs, no matter what. We reproduce what we are. Therefore, it’s absolutely imperative that moms and dads are daily, consistently, intentionally, and faithfully practicing the faith they profess, the faith they are seeking to instill in the hearts, minds, and souls of their children.
More Than Your Good Example, Though Not Less
In a real sense, this is more than mere example. Faith really needs to be in the “DNA” of the parents. Having said that, example is vital because children will copy what is being modeled for them at home. It wasn’t dumb luck that my kids all turned out to be Georgia Bulldog fans.
But passing on our faith requires more than example. We are called to actively lead them, instruct them, tell them, pray with them, pray for them, admonish them, counsel them, and nurture them. In a word, love them. The call to pass on our faith to our children in this manner runs throughout Scripture. For example…
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
O my people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
 I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter hidden things, things from of old–
 what we have heard and known,
what our fathers have told us.
 We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
 He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our forefathers
to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
A Multigenerational Vision
These are just three clear examples of Scripture’s overwhelming multigenerational vision for the extension of God’s kingdom. Many more could be cited. In truth, we’re talking about more than quoting a few texts. This multigenerational vision is a key thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation.
Early in Psalm 22, the psalmist declared that those who came before his generation put their trust in the Lord and were not disappointed. Later in the same Psalm he stated that future generations would also serve the Lord because they would be told about the Lord. If you think about it, how else will Christianity be passed on? If the love, holiness, grace, works, and words of God are going to be known two hundred years from now, then we must pass them on here and now.
But to whom? Many Christians talk about the need to evangelize and disciple the lost but seem to forget about God’s covenant children under their very own roofs. If we think in terms of concentric circles, our next priority (or circle) after our own relationship with God (because, again, we can’t reproduce what we’re not ourselves) should be our own family. Our goal, of course, is for our children to come to know, love and follow God and then pass on that faith to their children and their children’s children for a thousand generations (Deut. 5:10, 7:9).
In a real sense, our children are not our own. They are God’s. We are stewards of God’s children. That means we have been given the vital and joyful responsibility and blessing of raising these children to know, love and follow their heavenly Father. And while such an upbringing is so daily, we need to realize we only get one chance. It’s my prayer that God will honor the prayers, blood, sweat, tears, effort, and love we pour into our children (his children). To see them come to know him and become the godly adults we’ve been striving for will make it all worth it in the end.
John 1:38a - Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”
What Are You Seeking?
· Where are you going?
· How are you going to get there?
· How will you know when you’re there?
A few of years ago I received a newsletter from Len Sykes. Len is a godly man who mentors, teaches, disciples, coaches, and leads men in the Atlanta area. In his newsletter, Len shared a little about his ministry. I’m always encouraged when he shares what he’s doing, as well as what God is doing through him, because there’s so much I can learn about my own life and ministry.
Len wrote a little about his passion, mission, and vision for his ministry. He said those are the three main areas he encourages his men to focus on. The three questions I listed at the top of this devotional are my paraphrase of what Len is talking about. These are important questions to ask because, as the old saying goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.” There are a lot of men who have no idea where they’re going and they’re making great time getting there.
These issues of passion, mission, and vision are very important. I think most men want to live for something bigger than themselves. Part of their frustration is they either don’t know what that something is, or they have an idea, but aren't quite sure how to pursue it.
This is the “why” question. What drives you? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Len says passion is “the emotional/inspirational element of our desire.” It’s that which energizes us.
What’s your passion in the various spheres of your life? For yourself as a man of God? For your family? For your work setting? For your church? For your personal ministry? For your community? What’s that something bigger than you that you want to live your life pursuing in each of those areas?
Len next points out that mission “relates to how we carry out our desires to serve the Lord and his people.” In other words, how are you going to fulfill your passion? How are you going to get there? What’s your plan? Who are those brothers in your life who are going to help you get there?
This last component “relates to what the end result” of your passion and mission will look like. In other words, how will you know you’ve fulfilled your mission (or that you’re making progress in the right direction)? Lots of aimless activity is not the same thing as moving toward your goal. Having a vision of what the goal will look like will help you focus and persevere as you move toward your dream of that “something bigger than yourself.”
My Prayer for You
My prayer for each of you is not only for you to have a passion, mission, and vision, but also for you to spend your life pursuing them as they relate to each sphere of your life – your personal spiritual growth, as a husband, father, employee/employer, church member, neighbor, etc. To be sure, this is a huge undertaking, but can you imagine anything worthier of your time and energy?
My family’s life-verse is 1 Corinthians 10:31, which says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” From the extremely important to the utterly mundane, all of life is to be lived for God’s
glory. My children probably grew tired of hearing this repeated over and over as they were growing up, but hopefully they could cite it to you. More importantly, I pray they are seeking to live it out. This is a key idea behind the phrase, “living life on purpose” or “living intentionally.”
Having a passion, mission, and vision, when pursued according to God’s Word, will help you glorify God in all the spheres of your life. If I can help you discover, develop, and pursue your “something bigger than yourself,” please do not hesitate to let me know. It would be a blessing to travel alongside you as you seek to follow God’s call in your life.
Reflect on the various spheres of your life listed below. Talk with a Christian brother or two about what your passion, mission, and vision for each area looks like now and how it might grow this year.
· Spiritual Growth
· Church Member
· Other Areas
Click the images above to learn more about my books for men.