Search Google for “legacy of parents” and you’ll dis- cover top results referencing “the legacy of parents who abuse alcohol,” “legacy of addiction,” “legacy
of sexual abuse” and “legacy of marital discord.” Not that
this is surprising.
Sadly, these are common realities in our sin-ridden
society. Statistics remind us Christian families are not immune to the pain and temptations of this broken world.
But surely it’s not a legacy of sin we hope to imprint on
future generations. So, what’s wrong?
For those raised in homes dominated by strife, the
knee-jerk reaction says, “I never want to be like my parents!” These good intentions run awry, however, when our
desire to do things differently is pursued without God’s
guidance. The results can be detrimental to the opposite
extreme. On the other hand, those with a positive upbringing can overly sentimentalize their parents to the point of
idolatry, and fear not attaining their parents’ seemingly
Consider your parents’ legacy. Their example, whether
overt or unconscious, taught you both how to live and
how not to live. As you pass on a legacy to your children,
nieces, nephews or grandchildren, what are they learning
from your example?
It has been said a strength pushed too far can become a
weakness, even a sin. We must seek God’s help to prevent
this. A childhood of neglect can lead well-meaning parents
to smother their children, just as a spiritually lackadaisical
upbringing can lead a believing parent to impose extreme
strictures. Let’s consider some examples.
A woman’s Legacy
We need God’s power to properly “tell
the next generation . . . so they put their
trust in God” (Psalm 78: 4, 7).
good work Ethic v. workaholism
Colossians 3: 23 exhorts us that in “Whatever you do,
work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,
not for men.” The Bible is full of examples – Isaac, Joseph
and Ruth, to name a few – of those who demonstrated a
strong work ethic and were responsible and faithful to
their commitments. This is a positive legacy to pass on
to our children!
Problems arise when work becomes an idol or escape,
when social applause matters more than God’s approval,
and when our relationships with co-workers are closer
than with our families. We may think we are teaching our
children to work hard when they are actually learning our
job or status is more important than they are.
Conversely, do our children see us take pleasure in rest
when we break from our work? Or do they wonder if we
actually work at all? If our children overhear us lie to our
boss about a “sick day,” or see us doing the least amount
of work possible, they will learn laziness, not playfulness.
Instead, God calls us to honour Him both in labour and
rest, that we may be refreshed to serve Him better.
Compassion v. worry
Women are known as natural nurturers – blessed by God
with a maternal instinct. When pushed too far, this godly
compassion can fool us into believing worry is godly,
thereby justifying our fears.
Interestingly enough, you may have noticed the Bible
never says, “God was afraid,” or “Jesus worried.” No, not
once. Rather, 1 John 4: 18 says, “There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with
punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
To pass on a legacy of love to our children, we must
trust in God to overcome our fears.
Legacy of godliness
As Christians, we have been commissioned to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in
the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you”
(Matthew 28: 19). This teaching begins in our homes. As
parents, our first mission field is our family. God’s Word
must be our guide for raising our children to pass on a
legacy of godliness.
This is not possible in our own strength. We must
continually seek God to know Him more and lead our
children to Him. Thankfully, His grace is sufficient for
every mistake we make as a parent, and every sin our
parents committed against us. By His grace, our Heavenly
Father can take even the most devastating family legacy
and transform it into one that brings Him glory for genera-
tions to come. Ft
MIChELLE (NAgLE) ArthUr is executive director
of Women alive, a Canadian ministry equipping
women and teen girls to become dedicated
followers of Jesus Christ. For help
cultivating a mentoring culture among
women in your church, contact her at
firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-387-4753.