When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to his apprentice, Timothy, he presented three great insights about cultivating a healthy spiritual environment at home. Paul writes: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:3-7). This one sentence gives us a perfect picture of three generations of Christians. Timothy’s grandmother Lois became a Christian; lived out what she believed so much that it influenced her daughter Eunice to become a believer. Eunice lived out what she believed, so her son, Timothy, also became a believer. Lois and Eunice had such an effect on Timothy that their lives were visible to Paul through Timothy. In other words, when Paul looked at Timothy, he saw Lois and Eunice's influence shining through.
Their example to Timothy begs a question of us. What kind of values and virtues are you cultivating in your kids? The first insight Paul provides is to be sincere. The apostle Paul says Eunice and Lois both had “sincere faith.” That means they acted out their belief system. They believed in Jesus and believed what he said was true, so they did what he says to do. They forgave others, they shared of their material things, they helped strangers, and they chose to be servants instead of trying to be above everybody else. They walked the walk and talked the talk.
Our children watch us and they act on what they see. When my kids were little, every one of them was simultaneously screaming before lunch one day. So rather jokingly I said “Josh, shut your pie hole.” Of course he heard what I said and, like a parrot, issued the same command to his sister. So now she was telling him to shut his pie hole and he was telling her to shut her pie hole and Katie told both of them to shut their pie holes. I told Josh not to say that and he immediately told me to shut my pie hole. I had modeled something I didn’t want mimicked. Kids are like magnets; they will pick up anything you give them whether good or bad. I’m sure that Eunice and Lois were not perfect, but their faith was sincere and they modeled what they believed.
The second insight is to be consistent. Being consistent as a parent is tough. Any parent knows being the good example isn't always easy. And any parent willing to teach their teenager proper boundaries with social media and good driving skills knows it is hard to walk the walk consistently. What we learn best as children are lessons that are transmitted through consistent actions and boundaries rather than verbally taught. What are you transmitting consistently to your kids or other impressionable kids or young adults?
The third insight Paul provides is to be a growing Christian. Paul mentions three generations here and there is no indication whatsoever that any of them stopped growing. They kept growing and continued to produce spiritual fruit in their own lives which impacted and nourished others. Jesus promises us we will grow if we stay connected to Him. “5I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Here are a some practical ways you can cultivate a healthy spiritual environment in your home:
-Pray as a family and share with each other the prayers that have been responded to.
-Pray with your kids before bed.
-Serve others together.
-Go to church and be enthusiastic about this time spent together.
-Bring the kids to AWANA, Freshwater Kids, or Student ministry activities.
-Participate in a group with other growing Christians and model your devotion to Christ-like friendships.
-Share with them regularly your love for Jesus and how he is working in your life.
What kind of a role model are you to your children? If you don’t have kids or your kids are grown, what kind of role model are you to others? Are you OK with the life you’re living in front of your children, family, and friends? Is your life revealing more and more the marks of Christ-like-character or self-absorbed character? Are you living a kind of life that you would like to have modeled to you?
God is willing to work with you and help you grow in your faith so you can become the role model to your children and others that you desire to be.