The word legacy refers to anything that is handed down from the past. It can be property, money, good looks, talents—even behaviors such as disciplined routines or bad habits. The ones that come before us, leave behind good things and bad, right things and wrong. They are remembered for something that outlasts them. When it comes to parenting, the thought of leaving a legacy is somewhat terrifying for me!
As I write this, I’m in the thick of parenting three teenagers, and quite frankly I shudder when I think of how they might describe my potential legacy. If you asked them what they will remember me for, they might say something like, “She was constantly nagging us to unload the dishwasher, feed the dog, fold the laundry, get off our phones…” And while all of that is true, I want them to remember more than anything that I cared about their heart—more specifically, their heart for God and His Word.
I suspect many Christian parents feel the same way—that we want our kids to know Jesus and walk with Him, living out His Word in faith. So, how do we know we’re doing everything we can to make that our end goal? How do we leave a legacy of discipleship?
We can hope and pray fervently that our kids have a lasting faith, but those things by themselves won’t get us there. It takes a commitment to daily discipleship, a resolve to teach them biblical truth as you go through the hours, days, and years of their childhood and youth.
The familiar passage in Deuteronomy 6 tells us to teach our children biblical truth when we are at home, on the road, lying down, and rising up—basically, all the time. While that may sound overwhelming, it’s really simple because it boils down to this: tell your kids about God as you live your daily life.
According to the Nothing Less study by Lifeway Research, reading the Bible is by far the number one thing parents can do to help their children continue to grow in their faith as adults. While this should be no big surprise, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Are we really doing this?”If we want to leave a legacy of discipleship, we must prioritize God’s Word. – Jana Magruder Click To Tweet
If we want to leave a legacy of discipleship, we must prioritize God’s Word. Bible reading can begin at a very young age when we read Bible stories to children while showing them the bright and beautiful pictures that go along. As they grow older, we can read a full text Bible with them, modeling how to have a devotion. Certainly, they should see us reading our own Bibles because most of our parenting is “caught”’ not taught. Instead of having your quiet time hidden away, commit to having it out in the open—where your children can see you!
Pointing out biblical truth in everyday life was one of the factors that rose to the top of things parents can do to disciple their children most effectively (Nothing Less study 2016). This works at every age and stage of childhood—babies, toddlers, preschoolers, preteens, and teenagers can all learn from us as we point out little things that connect to God.
For example, we can tell younger kids that God made the trees they see in the park. We can tell older kids that we serve a creative God when they see the trees in the park. Tying biblical truth to memorable things helps build foundations that lead to a lasting faith. There are countless examples of how to do this. We only need to ask God to make them obvious to us!
The study also found that prayer is an effective factor, as well as serving together. If you want to leave a legacy of serving, get started now, so your children will serve long after you. Find ways for your children to serve alongside you: at church, in the neighborhood, at school, or anywhere in the community.
Listening to Christian music also has a positive effect on children and can be used as a discipleship tool. Scripture-filled lyrics rooted in sound doctrine really point back to reading God’s Word—it’s just singing instead! Find some fun Bible memory songs for younger children and then age up to worship songs. Consider singing together as a family.
Through Bible reading, prayer, serving, and listening to music together, we can leave a legacy of discipleship. These are the everyday habits and practices that lead to kids growing into spiritually healthy adults where they too will disciple others—repeating the legacy again and again.
Jana Magruder serves as the Strategic Initiatives Director of Lifeway Kids in Nashville, TN. With a background in education, publishing, and ministry, she loves championing the local church to help families disciple kids of all ages. She is the author of Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. Jana and her husband, Michael, are native Texans planted in Tennessee and love to explore both states with their three teenagers.