The Bible presents throughout its pages a multi-generational vision and outlook. We as Christians are supposed to make the equipping of the next generation of believers a priority. In Psalm 78:1-8 we see the “glorious deeds of the LORD” and “the wonders that he has done” being told to the children of the next generation. His established testimony and law are being taught to the children “that the next generation might know them.” We are commanded as parents to diligently teach our children to love the Lord and his commandments (Deut. 6:4-7) and raise them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50).
We often make it our priority to please our children by giving them things that they want; the latest toys, the big princess-themed birthday bash, or the latest Disney movie with all the associated gadgets. We diligently work to perfect each child’s role/dance in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song and we strive, with good intentions, in making their childhood full of fun times and laughter. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with these things. We should have many special and joyous moments with our children. However, there is the tendency to overemphasize and prolong the childish (which is always a win-win and gives the parent-child relationship instant agreement and harmony) without preparing the child to become a responsible adult one day.
I remember a year or so ago I overheard a side conversation about how a friend’s 9-year-old daughter was already folding clothes and doing the dishes. It was, to them, as if the child had become the product of modern slavery. “They need to let her be a child. They are trying to make her grow up too fast.” In my observation, however, she was happy, responsible, and still played just as hard as the other children. It is our modern society that wants to keep children as children and at times even discourage them from growing up or taking responsibility too soon.
Given this, I want to offer a list of exhortations to help us rethink the current situation God has put us in and develop a multi-generational vision of future men and women who will be salt and light in the next generation and avoid our modern day error of creating a society of 30-year-old children. This list is by no means exhaustive, but my intention is simply to provide some categories that we should take hold of and redirect to the glory of God.
Six Exhortations Towards a Multi-Generational Vision
1. Prepare your children for Christian marriage
It is God’s will that all people get married (with singleness as the exception) (Gen 1:28, 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:8-9). It is most likely that our children will get married one day, yet we often do not begin to prepare them for this, if at all, until they are hormone-driven teenagers. If we have sons then they should be taught that one day he “shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife…” (Gen. 2:24). Our sons are to leave mom and dad one day and take a wife. If we have daughters, then they are to be given in marriage by their fathers. The Bible states that daughters are under the care of their fathers until the father gives them to their husband in marriage (Num. 30:3-16; Exodus 22:16-17; Deut 22:16). So sons are to leave their father and mother and take a wife and daughters are to be given to their husband by their fathers.
Given that Christian divorce rates are almost identical with the national average, we can all confess that we are not doing a great job here. We need to prepare our kids for responsible, godly marriage. Tell your daughters at a young age that one day daddy will give them away in marriage. Tell them that this man will be a godly man that dad approves of, and subsequently she approves of, a man that will love her and lead her. Teach her to do household duties and to help look after the baby as one day she will have children and household duties of her own.
Mom and dad should take care to model the roles of godly marriage, for dad to love mom and mom to submit and respect dad, and daughters should desire to marry a man like dad one day and to be as gracious as mom. Tell your sons that one day they will leave mom and dad and take a wife for their own. They will love her, lead her, and sanctify her in the word. Teach them responsibility and sacrifice. Have your daughters respect their brothers and have your sons love their sisters. Have him pull a chair for her, open the car door for her, etc. So the first suggestion in this multi-generational vision is to put godly marriage back in our society by preparing our children for it.
2. Give your child a Christian education
The Bible demands a Christian education. We are commanded to bring up our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). We are to diligently teach our children the word of God at all times (Deut. 6:4-7). Given that there is no neutrality or middle ground (Matt. 12:30), it is either God’s way or man’s way, Christian Theism or Humanism.
The “religious beliefs” of our government school systems are antithetical to Biblical Christianity. The Bible says in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7). Without presupposing and starting with God, we cannot have true knowledge. God is the author of life and should be assumed at the outset of all disciplines and a humanistic school system will teach our kids just the opposite, as evidenced today. For 5 solid reasons not to send your kids back to public school see Voddie Baucham’s sobering article here.
Our children must have instilled in them a worldview that applies Christ to all facets of life. The homeschooling movement is growing with Christ at the forefront and with great results. Classical Christian schools are now all over the nation. See to it that your child is receiving a Christian education as that is what God requires of parents.
3. Give your child a robust Biblical worldview
It is important that our children view all things through the lens of scripture and be instructed as to what they are to believe about God and what God requires of them. As stated in another post, God created, from nothing, all that is in the world. We are His creation and He is the Creator. Therefore, as the triune, eternal God created, his temporal creation is thus dependent on and derived from Him. This means the truth of who we (His temporal creation) are and how and what we know are dependent and derived from Him (the triune, Eternal God). As Van Til once noted, we cannot know exhaustively but we can know truly.
We tend to keep things from children that seem “inappropriate” for their age. In some cases this is the best bet. In other cases, we keep it from them long enough for them to hear the twisted version from a friend. It is our duty to help them see the dichotomy between the way God created and intended things and the way they are due to the fall. They need to see what is true in God’s creation through his word versus what man has created as truth for himself.
They will ask you questions such as why aunt Suzie divorced, why two men were holding hands at the mall, why their older (but still young) cousin has a boyfriend, etc., and we should not blow it off with a “you are a little too young for that” excuse, but take it as an opportunity to instill in them the truth of God amid the culture we currently live in. They should be aware that, although God may be praised in their house and church, there are many who believe in false gods and the day will come when someone informs them that Adam was not a real person or that we evolved from apes. They need to be prepared for what the world will throw at them and equipped with the truth of God to stand firm in a slippery culture.
4. Teach your child the value and reward of hard work
The Bible is clear that God wants us to be diligent workers. To be frank, we live in a lazy society today, and a multi-generational vision should seek to produce hard workers. The motivation behind all we do, to include our work, is ultimately to the Lord and not man (Col. 3:23-35; Eph. 6:7-8). It is to be done with all our strength (Eccl. 9:10) and with diligence comes profit (Prov. 14:23). Boys are to learn (as they will one day have a family) that they must provide for their future family (1 Tim 5:8), and this is accomplished by way of hard work. Girls are to be informed that one day, whatever their profession, they will still have the task of managing the home (Titus 2:5).
Our children should have regular chores to do (varying based on age) and many if not all should be done without any sort of bribery with the goal of seeing the result of the hard work as the reward (and obedience of course). One of the best ways to achieve this is for the parents to model it such that children see their dad working to provide for the family as well as sacrificially serving his wife and kids and mom working hard, whether at an employment or at home, and being a helper to dad. Hard work is emphasized in God’s word and it is important to do the same with our kids.
5. Teach your child what God says about money
Another one of our obvious failures today is the subject of money. Between school loans, personal loans, credit card debt, etc., our young adults today begin their marriages and careers with the weight of debt already on their backs. It is important then that our next generation knows how to wisely handle money. God owns everything (Deut. 10:14; Psalm 24;1), including our money and he expects us to be wise stewards of the money he has entrusted to us. Proverbs 22:7 says the borrower is slave to the lender and we should desire that our children not fall victim to this enslavement when they get out on their own.
While they are young, give them extra tasks to do at home to earn money and use it as a tool to teach them how to handle it and what God’s words says about it. Parents, seek to get out of debt yourselves and begin a college savings for your children to help them when those college years come.
Lets strive to see that the next generation not be dependent on and enslaved to the government and credit agencies but to be hard workers, self-sufficient, managing their money wisely in accordance to God’s word. Parents make this part of your “curriculum” in training your children, an example being something like this or this.
6. Share your failures and discourage repetition
I remember talking with my daughter one time when she was about 4, and we were talking about marriage and how mom and I met, when she asked me if had dated any other women before mom. It caught me off guard because I was in the middle of explaining to her how God desires for her to wait for a godly man to marry, and it seemed (rightly so) like a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ moment.
Yet it dawned on me that this was a wonderful time to speak of my failures and their consequences along with the chance to exhort her not to make the same mistake. It opened up the door to discussing the danger in giving your heart to a guy before marriage, having children before marriage, and the blessing of marrying a godly man who will love her and lead her.
Most of us made some poor and God-dishonoring decisions growing up that we wish to dust under the rug and keep from our children, when in actuality a child needs to hear your past mistakes. They need to hear of your stories and your sins such that the work of Christ is your life can be made as big to them as it has been to you. In Psalm 78, the psalmist warns the next generation of making the same mistakes as the previous, and we would be wise to do so as well.
As I stated before, this list is only the tip of the iceberg but should give some bearing as to how we can begin to pursue a multi-generational vision for the next generation of believers to be salt and light to our present and upcoming culture.