Grandparents want to see their grandchildren grow up and become successful. For Christian grandparents, we understand that success is not measured by career or financial accomplishments as much as integrity of character and contentment in Christ and His purposes. The Apostle John said it well when he said, “I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the truth.”
So how do grandparents contribute to the success of their grandchildren, and in this case, their teenage grandchildren? I want to suggest at least five ways that could have significant impact.
This is by no means exhaustive list of effective ways to help your teenage grandchildren succeed. In fact, you may have even better ideas. I’d love for you to share them. One or two on my list might surprise you. Here’s the first one:
1. Help build a strong work ethic by challenging them to higher expectations.
Our grandchildren are growing up in a world of low expectations. The pop culture of today has relegated the teens years as good for little more than having fun. Teens are rarely given much to do beyond a little homework (the average in American high schools today is about one hour per week), and a few menial household chores.
Perhaps this isn’t true for your grandchildren. If it’s not, your grandchildren are fortunate. But for most American households it is true, and the consequences are enormous, especially for boys. An old African proverb says, “If a village fails to initiate its boys into manhood, those boys will burn down the village just to feel the heat.” It’s easy to see the evidence of that today.
If you want to help your teenage grandchildren really succeed, they need to learn to do hard things—things that push them toward maturity as responsible adults. It requires that grandparents be willing to step out of their own comfort zone and help their grandchildren live out their faith and their lives in ways that matter. Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.” How can we help them learn that this is the way to really living life with a capital L?
Before David was king, he had the lowliest job of all—tending his father’s sheep. He did that while his brothers were all doing things that seemed much more interesting—fighting wars. But it was during this time of tending sheep that David learned the hard lessons of responsibility. It was the testing ground that developed him into a skilled marksman, a talented musician, a brave protector and fighter, and a gentle leader. Wisdom and skill only come through a disciplined life of hard work. It doesn’t hurt to also have a submissive spirit that is not afraid to do the dirty jobs.
So how can we as grandparents help our teenage grandchildren develop this kind of successful work ethic?
Last week I looked at qualities of a matriarch who we might not always associate with a typical concept of a matriarch. Contrary to a typical image of a strong, outgoing personality, I used my aunt as an example. She was a very quiet person, yet resolute and strong in character; diminutive, yet powerfully influential. A worthy matriarch possesses qualities that compel, not coerce, younger generations to follow her example regardless of personality type.
But what about the patriarch? What kind of person dignifies the position of patriarch in the family—a worthy patriarch? Let me share my experience with one such patriarch that may help answer that question.
When you hear the words patriarch or matriarch, what comes to mind? Old? Powerful? Influential? Those are things we often associate with these terms. By definition a patriarch or matriarch is the man or woman who is the oldest in a family or tribe, and possesses considerable influence and power because of their wisdom and longevity. Some patriarchs and matriarchs rule their families like tyrants. They have a firm grip and tight control, sometimes empowered by a strong financial position.
When I think of a patriarch or a matriarch who reflect God’s purpose, I think of those who hold a place of honor. In a word, they are venerable—revered. They hold that place, not only because they are the oldest members of the family, but because they have shown themselves deserving of such respect and honor. This is what grandfathers are to be—patriarchs. It is what grandmothers are to be—matriarchs.
What does it look like to be a patriarch or a matriarch? Let me share with you two stories, one this week and one next week, that will illustrate what I believe Scripture teaches us about these honored positions in our family. Let’s start with matriarch
As iron sharpen iron, so one man sharpens another. Prov. 27:17
If you have ever watched an experienced blacksmith perform his trade, you cannot escape the power of iron sharpening iron. From the furnace a red-hot strap of iron is pulled, laid on an iron anvil, and with the skill of a true artisan, the blacksmith uses an iron hammer to pound that iron strap ultimately into a finely crafted blade. When he begins the task, it’s difficult to imagine that something so beautiful could come from that inconsequential scrap.
So it is with human relationships. That is the message of Proverbs 27:17. In the same way that a blacksmith’s iron hammer and anvil collide with the prepared strap of iron to form a sharp, durable blade, so two lives pounded together on the anvil of accountability reach a mutual goal of