On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at His sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, ‘You have no share in the LORD.’ Joshua 22:27 NIV
What is your legacy? There is an old song Christian artist Steve Green sang called “Find us Faithful”. A line in the song says, “When your children sift through all you’ve left behind, will the memories they uncover…?” I recall hearing that song when my boys were young and I was always convicted! I was concerned about the memories I would leave behind for my boys.
Nate, our youngest boy, was often morbid with his childhood thoughts. When I travel out of town he would often ask, “Daddy, what will happen if the plane crashes?” To which I would reply, “Well son, I suppose I’ll probably die.” (I didn’t say that, but I was tempted to sometimes.) The funny thing though was that he wasn’t asking about my death as much as he was asking about his future. He was asking what he was to do without me. It was morbid, but it was a fair question.
What are those who come behind you to do when you are gone? What kind of legacy are you leaving them? Since children are likely to follow in our footsteps, what footsteps are you setting for them? They often repeat the same mistakes we make. They often experience similar success. What kind of life are you living for them to follow?
Let me ask you an even more direct question: Would you want them to live the life you are living right now, or do you want more for them? If you aren’t pleased with the answer, start living a different life before them today!
Nate (formerly known as Nathaniel), you have been a soul mate to me since you were very little. We are so much alike that it scares me for you sometimes. Yesterday was the longest ride of my life after dropping you off at college. This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I am so excited that your dream of being at Moody has come true, but the thought of you being so far away and not seeing you everyday is overwhelming to me.
You kept telling me “thanks for everything” the last few days. Son, if only you knew how much value you add to my life in so many ways. No thanks are necessary.
This letter will attempt to communicate to you clearly things I hope I have said to you over the years, but never want you to forget.
- There will never be anyone in your corner more than me.
- You are awesome. I am your biggest fan.
- At such a young age you have so much insight into life, leadership, church-life, and relationships. Use it well for the Kingdom.
- I will try to let you go, but honestly it is proving to be one of the hardest things I have done in my life.
- I am always here for you. You cannot interrupt me, because you are a part of me.
- I look forward to seeing you grow and be the man God wants you to be.
- Your passion for life and Christ is contagious.
- I hope you always make better decisions than I have at times.
- I pray you are determined to take risks, dream big, and trust God even more than I was.
- I will miss most our random conversations about tackling the world’s problems and our belly laughs at things no one else would understand.
- You have more potential than you even realize, but thanks for being so humble.
- Feel free to keep asking me to pray for you, but the request is granted long before it is made. (You can just give me specifics.)
- My greatest wish for you, as it always has been, is that you will continue to love Jesus with all your heart.
- We named you well. You truly are a “gift of God”.
You have my number. I am just a phone call (or text) away.
I love you buddy!
P.S. Love your blog! (nateedmondson.com)
When an organization, relationship, or situation is in trouble, the faster it can get to the bottom the sooner it can begin the climb to the top again. This is often true in marriages, businesses, and economies.
Recovery will not usually come until the bottom is found. The quicker you find the bottom the sooner you can reverse the slide from down to up or bad to well. No one enjoys finding the bottom, but it is from there that any positive movement will most likely be found.
In a marriage for example, some people keep bringing up the same issues and repeating same mistakes and so they fail to initiate change. Sometimes a spouse refuses to tell the whole truth and so bad news keeps coming out, opening new wounds each time. The marriage never improves until everything is on the table, there are no more secrets and the bottom is found.
Get to the bottom of an issue or problem and its all uphill from there.
Are you nearing the bottom yet?
Most Christian parents want to encourage their children to mature spiritually, but they do not know how. I am not an expert at this and I am still learning, but my boys are incredible men of God and they sincerely seek after Christ into their young adult years.
Here are some thoughts for producing children who desire to grow spiritually:
Look at your plank first
How is your own your spiritual life? Are you growing in your knowledge and love of God outside of Sunday morning? You cannot lead your family somewhere you have not been or are not going.
Have a plan
If you do not know where you want to go you probably will not get there. I wanted my boys to be men of God. I started at the age of about 8 teaching them what that means. At the age of 12, we began a year of discovery and at age 13 we celebrated entry into the beginning stages of manhood. We have continued to fine tune that plan each year.
Find out what works for your children and for the family
You are only going to stick with things you really want to do and that work. Your children are unique and each requires different environments to learn. You may be strong enough to make your children sit still for a 30 minute family devotion time, but ask yourself is it effective or does it simply make you feel better. The key is that your family is moving in the right direction spiritually, not that you follow someone else’s script.
Look for teaching moments
Be available to your children on their time. They do not know how the game of life works and they will need your input. The problem is they will want you one minute and not the next. For Jeremy the best teaching moments were while kicking a soccer ball. For Nathaniel it was throwing a baseball.
Do not force it
Sometimes parents (maybe especially pastors) are so afraid of our own image, of what people may think if children do or say something wrong, that we put undue pressure on them. Do not be afraid for your children to question their faith. I see too many parents that go into panic mode when their children naturally question spiritual things. If you are normal then you have days when your faith is not quite as strong. Do not expect more from your children.
I took my boys along for ministry meetings whenever I could. We have participated in family mission trips. I evaluate Sundays with my boys. They feel a part of my ministry.
Keep your family emotionally healthy
How healthy are you emotionally? How healthy is your spouse and your children? Recognize the signs of burnout and stress on your family and address problems early.
Build relationships first and spiritual maturity second
Build the kind of relationship with your children that will help them want more of what you value. Jesus did that with the disciples. Your children are more likely to want to know the Christ you love if they learn first to love you.
What tips do you have for building spiritual maturity into your home?
Taylor, one of my 18 year-old son Nate’s best friends, is going to Wheaton University this fall. I am excited that he will be an hour away from Nate who will be at Moody Bible College. I wrote a blog post about their friendship a couple months ago. Read that post HERE. I had coffee this morning with Taylor, because he is leaving this weekend for an extended and unusual college orientation.
Wheaton offers an optional wilderness experience as a preparation for incoming freshman to the university. Students explore a Christian worldview and get college credit in exchange for an extreme outdoor adventure with other students, professors, and experts in wilderness adventures. Someone at the university told Taylor, “If you can survive 12 days alone with someone in this experience then you can last a lifetime together.”
I love the concept. I am wondering if it would work in other settings:
- Incoming staff people…
- Premarital counseling…
- Potential leaders…
Do you think this would build healthier teams?
Who in your organization/family would you like to send on a 12-day wilderness experience so they will be a better team player?
I am a teacher, but I am not without flaw.
One common misunderstanding is that those who teach principles are perfect at implementing those same principles in their life. Hopefully before someone agrees to teach on a subject they have a certain “expertise” in the area he or she teaches, whether by education or experience, but it is probably false to believe he or she is perfect in every area they claim expertise. Obviously teachers are to be held to a higher standard (James 3:1), but just because someone teaches does not make them perfect at the subject they teach.
For example, I teach some principles I do not yet live out fully and perfectly.
- I teach on marriage, but my marriage is a continual work in progress.
- I teach on parenting, but each new age creates a new learning curve for me.
- I teach on leadership, but I still have so much to learn about the subject.
- I teach the Bible, but there are those I teach who know some passages better than me.
I believe and aspire to the principles I teach, and I do have education and experience in each area, but I am still very much a work in progress.
Do not make the mistake of believing that just because someone teaches good principles that they are fully implementing them in their life. Hopefully they are attempting to, but you may be disappointed if you look for perfection from the teacher.
What qualities do you look for in a teacher?
Here is a quick reminder to husbands and wives:
You are responsible to God and your spouse to obey the vows you took before God and others the day you married.
We often make excuses for our behavior because of the behavior of our spouse, but if each partner is accountable for their own role the marriage will be strengthened.
I have heard all the arguments. One spouse feels unloved so he or she refuses to give love or respect. One spouse feels disrespected, so he or she refuses to give back respect or love. I understand it is difficult, but the fact remains each spouse is accountable for his or her heart and actions.
I am not at all advocating that a spouse must endure physical or emotional abuse. That is a completely different issue. I am addressing the average marriage struggles where two people are equally at fault. In those cases, if one spouse will genuinely fulfill their responsibility, unless the other spouse has completely closed their heart to the marriage, the marriage is likely to see improvement. It is when each spouse becomes selfish and refuses to do live their part of the marriage commitment that lines are crossed, feelings are hurt, and severe damage is done to the marriage.
Have you been doing your part to make the marriage work?
I love this video with LV Hanson and Darren Whitehead from Willow Creek. I want my boys to watch this. You should too. I think he’s onto something here.
Thanks to Brad Lomenick for pointing me to this and giving me permission to post it here.
Cheryl and I are in Lithuania this week. Read that story HERE. We plan to update more later.
Nate and I were commenting back and forth on Facebook. I told him I was getting up early here in Lithuania, because it is daylight from about 4 AM to 11:30 PM. Here was his comment back:
“i’ve been up a while too.. since about 1 PM. I have to wake up early tomorrow though so I should probably go to bed soon.. I’m working on some new music stuff. The house is still in one piece… except for the giant hole in the garage door from where I forgot to raise it before backing the mower out.. thankfully the mower is more powerful than the garage door. It was about time we replaced that ole thing anyway… also the yard looks good. A couple of the neighbors stopped by to compliment how good it looked.. a few others stopped by when I wasn’t here so they left notes about it. Also the kitchen was smelling a little funny so I sprayed this stuff in there, but it turns out it was for wood services only and now the kitchen floor is really slick. Hopefully it will get better before you get back. I called the wooden floor guy to come over and fix it.. so it should be fine.. also Paw Paw has a Yugoslavian Pride hat for you.. I told him you were in Lithuania but he didn’t listen.. see ya!”
Should I be worried? Should we bother to come home?
PS. I love my boys!