Parents and grandparents have an obligation to prepare their children and grandchildren to become independent and responsible adults. Christian parents and grandparents have an additional responsibility to teach their children about who God is and what he has done, with the hope that they will choose to follow Christ. As I have come to better understand the theology of work over the past eight years, I know that I have an obligation to share with my children and grandchildren what God says about work in the Bible and, more importantly, to help them see how God is preparing them for the work he will call them to.
In this stage, and in light of Grandparents’ Day, I want to focus on this reality between grandparents and grandchildren.
In Deuteronomy 4:9, Moses says to the Israelites:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Let me provide a little background.
The first six chapters of this book discuss the terms forefathers, fathers, children, and descendants multiple times. This appears to be an important theme as Moses instructs the Israelites on their sacred duties as the chosen people of God. And I believe that the key to the nation’s survival is in passing down their faith in Yahweh from generation to generation.
Moses reminds the Israelites of God’s covenant with their forefathers (Deut 1:8, 4:31). He calls them to pass on the stories of what they have seen God do to their children and to their children’s children so that the nation will continually be blessed by God (Deut 6:1-3).
Like the Israelites, we need to teach them not only who God is, but what he has done for us in the past. Like the Israelites did after they crossed the Jordan River, in a miracle similar to what God’s people saw as they crossed the Red Sea (Josh 4:1-9), I too need to set up stones of remembrance so that my descendants will see where God showed up and brought blessing, deliverance, and comfort to my life. For me, this would include how the Lord provided for my family by leading me to join the Army in 1985.
Teaching God’s design to your grandchildren
God is far more involved in our vocational journeys than many Christians realize, and he prepares us in every way to be able to fulfill the callings that he has for us. God designs us — and the circumstances of our lives — to shape us into the workers he needs us to be.
Paul Stephens, in his book Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, shares this insight about God’s providence:
Providence means that our birthplace, family background, educational opportunities, the talents and abilities we bring to the workplace, even our physical or emotional disabilities, are not accidental but part of God’s good and gracious purpose for us.
One of the great things we all notice about our grandkids is that they display a variety of interests, strengths, aptitudes, and skills at a very early age. Some of these things are indicators of the life God is preparing for them. For example, when my youngest son landed the lead role in Hamlet as a junior in college, I saw Proverbs 22:29 in what God was doing in his life:
Do you see someone skilled in their work?
They will serve before kings;
they will not serve before officials of low rank.
We can encourage our grandchildren to acknowledge God’s design as they start their careers. We can pray for them, ask them hard questions, and cheer them on when they make a good decision or land that first job. They will serve before kings.
Preparing our grandchildren to become God’s co-workers
As we help our grandchildren understand how God has worked in their past, we also want them to know that God will take care of their future as they navigate rough waters.
Seven years ago, I went blueberry picking. It was a great opportunity for me to reflect on the blessings of being a co-worker with God, as I worked in his presence to harvest what others had cultivated with what he had created. I imagined what I would teach my young grandson if he had been there picking with me. I have not yet been able to have this conversation, despite the fact that we have picked apples and pumpkins every fall when I visit my daughter’s family. Perhaps this year he and his siblings are old enough for me to share this important message.
Christians experience God’s presence throughout their work experience, as they discover who he made them to be, seek out his calling, and wrestle with the thorns and thistles that accompany every line of work in this life. I earnestly desire this for my own children and grandchildren most of all. I want them to know that their work truly matters to God.
Christian parents hope that their children and grandchildren will practice their faith daily. We hope they know that God will be with them at work and that he works in them and through them. As they love their neighbors, God meets the full spectrum of human needs through their work.
A challenge to myself and others
How do we find time to teach our grandchildren? In Deuteronomy 6:7, Moses suggests several times to do this during the day: “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” My wife would always look for “teachable moments” while traveling in our minivan to share relevant biblical truths when our kids would ask questions, when they were fighting with each other, or when a Christian song would come on.
I think that teaching our kids and grandkids about how God will guide their work does not have to be complicated or limited to formal family devotions. Just tell your own story and help them see how God has already been involved in theirs.
An earlier version of this article originally appeared at regehrlein.wordpress.com.