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Cover 51


September 2013

Do You Have
Sticky Faith?


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Grandparents: More Than Cheerleaders



Grandparents: More Than Cheerleaders

by Garnett Reid


“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalm 90:1).

“Let’s see, Pops. So my dad is your son, then, right?” The wheels were turning in the mind of our pre-school granddaughter, Allison, trying to figure out those relationships. “Then you should tell your son to get me everything I want for Christmas because he’s supposed to obey you!” Smart girl! Use whatever leverage you can!

As a kid, I could sweet-talk my grandmother on my dad’s side and pretty much get my way. But my mother’s mother was a different story. She was a no-nonsense, hardscrabble, country farmer’s wife who meant what she said and didn’t put up with any special pleading. Seasoned by her nine children, ma-maw’s tough exterior wrapped itself around a heart of gold, and I knew that sooner or later I could wear down her resistance and get to her.

Her husband, my pa-paw, had become a Christian following two tragic events: his son died and a mule fell on him. People loved and respected him, me included. But my father’s dad, ravaged by drink, died years before I was born. All I knew about him was that my father hated him. So my dealings with my own grandparents resembled a P. D. James novel—interesting characters plus some real mystery.


Grands in the Bible

The same is true of grandparents in the Bible, including Methuselah, Noah’s granddad, and Abraham, a prolific grandfather once it all got going. Rehoboam’s grandfather was none other than David, who began a line of kings reigning on the throne of Judah culminating in Jesus, David’s greater Son, who Himself had an earthly grandfather named Jacob.

And remember that when Ruth delivered little Obed, David’s granddad, the neighbor women rejoiced, “Naomi has a son!” Then there’s Timothy’s grandmother Lois whose faith contributed to his own relationship with Christ.

In Old Testament times, the most influential member of the family was the grandfather. He led the household, known as the beth ab, a Hebrew expression meaning literally, “the house of the father,” consisting of his immediate and extended family. Like the hub of a wheel, the grandfather was the core of the household community. Interestingly, though, the Bible doesn’t focus on his power and authority, but on his concern for the well-being of the family as a whole and of each member in particular.

Duties of the Old Testament Grandfather:

  • Model covenant loyalty to the Lord

  • Lead his family in worship

  • Teach the law to his household

  • Tell the story of the Exodus deliverance from Egyptian bondage

  • Manage the land to sustain and protect the family

  • Provide the basic needs of food, clothing, rest, and shelter

  • Defend the home against outside threats

  • Represent the family “in the gate,” the town assembly

  • See to the welfare of each family member

  • Insure that the household ran efficiently

  • Implement the decisions of the larger clan to which his family belonged


In Days to Come

So, as D6 grandparents concerned about leading our children and grandchildren to faith, how do we keep alive a believing hope for generations to come? Here are a dozen grandparenting ideas for nurturing intergenerational discipleship.

  1. We model faithfulness as followers of Jesus.

  2. We tell our families stories of faith.

  3. We lead them by example in a consistent worship of God.

  4. We nurture our children and our grandchildren in a loving, caring environment.

  5. We help them embrace honorable traditions in the family. If there are none, we begin those traditions.

  6. We share skills in living we have learned in all kinds of life experiences.

  7. We defend the family’s honor by encouraging unity, harmony, dignity, and unconditional love.

  8. We love our spouse so that our children will feel more secure in their own relationships.

  9. We think through tough decisions with our children and grandchildren when they invite us to do so.

  10. We tackle the realities and complexities of blended families with God-directed intentionality, realizing the beauty they can present.

  11. We support the enforcement of discipline as implemented by our children toward their children.

  12. We covenant to pray for them always.


Grandparenting Do’s & Don’ts


  • Be that rock of support when crises swirl around the family.

  • Teach your grandchildren to save money.

  • Take every opportunity to have your grandkids in your home.

  • Find lots of ways to have fun with your grandkids.

  • Be positive with your family. Expect God to work!

  • Explore new worlds with your grandchildren. Find new adventures close to home and on far away adventures when you can.

  • Read, read, read to your grandkids.

  • As much as you can, get to know your grandchildren’s friends. But tread lightly.

  • Understand that your grandchildren—yes, yours!—are fallen and flawed.

  • Build respect in your grandkids for their parents.



  • Worry too much about spoiling your grandkids. S. A. and J. C. Bly explain:
    “To spoil implies giving someone better than he or she deserves . . . . The Bible is crammed with accounts of how God spoils us, that is, gives us better than we deserve. It’s called grace.”

  • Think you know it all despite all of your living experiences. Be flexible and teachable.

  • Keep talking about the good old days, but do share stories with your grandkids. Find a balance.

  • Take your grandchildren’s side with one parent against another.

  • Undermine parents’ discipline.

  • Cast either parent in a bad light.

  • Think your faith will automatically result in your grandkids having faith. They must embrace Christ on their own.

  • Be surprised when God injects heavy doses of grace into a difficult situation.

  • Despair if you’re called on to serve as a substitute parent in a second and unplanned parenthood.

  • Miss finding ways to get involved in your grandkids’ lives. Be there—at ballgames, recitals, parties, field trips, school events, and church activities.


The Church Must Help!

Ken Gangel displayed this motto on his study wall: “When a child is born, a family receives two precious gifts, a grandchild and a grandparent.” So, too, does the church. We have the privilege and responsibility of equipping grandparents to fulfill their roles to the glory of God and for the good of their families. Some of the ways we can do that involve:

  • Assisting them in the transition to retirement

  • Helping them understand how the aging process works

  • Standing with them as they cope with physical and mental challenges as well as living adjustments

  • Encouraging them to accept and even delight in this new identity

  • Discovering new ways to serve the Lord

  • Exploring ways to relate to their grandchildren and to the young people in the church

  • Working with them to deal with loneliness and end of life issues

  • Keeping their spirits up


For My Grandchildren

As a grandfather of three, I want Allison, Katherine, and Wilson to love Jesus. I don’t want them to be so worried about their stuff and their image that they can’t be themselves. I want them to honor their parents. I don’t ever want them to think that they’re worthless, or that no one cares, or that life isn’t worth living. I want them to know that no matter what, Pops and Grams will love them.



About the Writer: Garnett Reid has been a professor of Old Testament studies at Welch College in Nashville, Tennessee, for nearly 30 years. He and his wife Carol do not claim to be parenting experts but are thankful for their two adult sons and their families.





©2013 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists