I grew up enjoying the childhood activity of follow-the-leader. Back in the Prairies, it was especially fun to play after a fresh snowfall on our way to and from school (a four-block walk). With hockey stick in hand, we’d take turns being the leader. We’d take big steps, hopping steps, sliding steps, climb snowbanks and jump down making tracks as we went. We would expect the others to do exactly what we did with both our steps and our stick (acting like a cane, a pole vault, or a sword). You could tell how well your friends were following by their boot prints in the snow.
Every day we parents leave footprints for our family to follow. But parenting is not a game—a future generation of faith rests on us. There’s no doubt we are leaving tracks and our kids follow in our footsteps…at least for a while.
So what is it going to take to have your children continue following your footprints? Here is my advice for leading well at home.
Step 1: Follow Jesus clearly and consistently. Leading well at home is always about passing on what is ultimately most important in life. Without question, that should be your children coming to know and follow Jesus. You as a parent (or grandparent) need to fully seek Jesus first, allowing Him to transform you and how you live at home. You are called to follow Jesus’ example in what you do and say in such a way that this primary truth of life is powerfully convincing to those who follow you. We read in 1 Peter 2:21 that Jesus, “…is your example, and you must follow in his steps.” This is central for any parent. Follow Jesus with your life. Live what you believe.
Step 2: Ask your children to follow you. Many parents assume this just happens, but asking your children to follow your example is an important step. However, your kids will only listen to your words to the level they see it backed up in your own life. Because they are 24/7 witnesses of your every move, they can do the “scratch and sniff” test to see if you are for real. Do your actions scream so loud that they drown out the lessons you are trying to teach? While it’s crucial to ask your children to follow you, your example is louder than your words. Philippians 4:9, which I call the Parent’s Prayer, affirms this. “Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”
Step 3: Challenge your children to lead their families well. Family influence is the most powerful and effective form of evangelism. Every day in the home our faith is observed and passed on to the next generation. It is sad how many times I’ve seen kids walk away from the faith after high school because of their parents. Let’s put 2 Timothy 2:2 in play in the context of the family. “You have heard me teach things [as the parent] that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses [your siblings]. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people [your children] who will be able to pass them on to others [your children’s children].” This process, as implied in this verse, impacts four generations because of the genuine family footprints of faith.
Leave credible footprints as you lead at home. May your kids find you faithful.