I’m just getting my feet wet in this whole grandfathering thing. As many of you know, we had our first grandson this year. Baby Owen was born to Tim and Caroline in March. Since Tim is stationed in Hawaii, it took several months to coordinate my first visit to meet him, and I am happy to report the child is real!
I could not have been more thrilled to make the long journey to hold this precious life in my own arms, and I’ve spent some time reflecting on grandfathering since then.
“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6
In some ways, grandfathering feels like fathering 2.0. I am now the father of a father, and it was so cool to hear him talking to his son.
“You’re OK, Owen.”
“It’s alright, little man.”
“Settle down, son; it’s almost time to eat.”
It brings me great joy to watch my son be a dad and see him and his bride grow closer together as a couple and become more skilled in being parents.
Paul writes in I Corinthians 4:14-16, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.”
Grandfathering also challenges me to question, “Am I worthy of imitation?”
That’s a lot of pressure to live a life worthy of imitation, but it is something we all need to be thinking about as fathers and grandfathers. It makes me think of what I got wrong, the mistakes I made, and everything I wish I could do over. As much as we try, hindsight is 20/20, and we know we didn’t get it all right. But God’s grace is sufficient.
I love the picture of fathering that Paul makes so clear. It goes beyond just teaching a kid to throw a baseball, win at the stock market, play video games, or succeed at some skill. There’s a depth to fathering that has this spiritual element to it. It extends beyond the biological, just as Paul called himself a father in Christ Jesus to Timothy and Titus. You can be a father and a spiritual father to your children, grandchildren, and others.
The Call to Create a Spiritual Legacy
There’s a six-hour time difference and a bunch of airline miles between baby Owen and us. We can’t be near them frequently, so what can we do?
- Pray – I can pray for Owen and his parents regularly, intentionally, specifically.
- Be available – I don’t want to intrude and tell them what to do or how to do it, but I can be available to receive a call, to listen, hear their frustrations, encourage, and support them.
- Celebrate – Sometimes, I just need to celebrate and cheer for Tim and Caroline. I need to let them know that they have what it takes.
- Serve and Invest – We will serve and invest in them as much as we can. Because we’re so far away, we have to trust that other folks will be mentors, helpers, and surrogate grandparents for our children and grandchildren. So, we can join the fun by helping, serving, encouraging, and loving on other young families. We can be a blessing to them, and it will help us with our baby withdrawals.
Stacy and I are still launching arrows. Just the other day, Zach packed up the truck and headed out of our driveway again for his next assignment. Tim and Caroline are just now putting arrows in their quiver that they will have to launch one day. It’s a multi-generational experience.
They say that grandchildren are the reward you receive for not killing your children! All joking aside, it truly is a reward to see all that they are doing and learning about being a first-time mom and dad and to tell them they are doing great.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Psalm 127:3