Shaping Influences & Parental Legacy

2008 is a leap year. The Summer Olympic Games will be held. Who knows what memorable events from 2008 will go down in history? In America  there
will be a presidential election.  That
election also marks the end of a president’s term in office. As that term draws
to a close much is made of the legacy of that president. Political observers
ponder how history will view the legacy of a president. Some presidents become obsessed with their
legacy—their place in history. Decisions are made with an eye towards protecting
and enhancing the elusive prize of a favorable legacy. In the end, a president’s legacy is
determined by what was done, not by how he wanted others to think of him.


n contrast, parents often give too little thought to the
legacy they are creating. Although contemplating your legacy may seem egotistical,
the fact is that every parent does leave a legacy. Your legacy will be told in the lives of your
children. Your parental legacy deserves
your attention. The Bible speaks of this legacy in Psalm 78:4-7:

  4 We will
not hide them from their children;
       we will tell the next generation
       the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,
       his power, and the wonders he has done.

5 He decreed statutes for Jacob
       and established the law in Israel,
       which he commanded our forefathers
       to teach their children,

6 so the next generation would know them,
       even the children yet to be born,
       and they in turn would tell their

7 Then they would put their trust in God
       and would not forget his deeds
       but would keep his commands.

Your legacy will be told in the lives of your children. What
will your grandchildren think of God? This is what verse 6 is addressing in
Psalm 78. The psalmist looks into the
future to see the impact of the gospel on children who are yet unborn, who will
in turn tell their children of the glory of God.

Shaping influences will have much to say in determining your
parental legacy. Tedd Tripp describes
the impact of these influences: “The person your child becomes is a product of
two things. The first is his life experience. The second is how he interacts
with that experience.”  While as a parent
you may have limited ability to control some of the things that make up your
child’s life experience—things like sickness, natural disasters, providential
acts such as accidents and unexpected accidents or deaths—you have a much
greater opportunity to influence how a child interacts with these experiences.

For example, let’s take the political climate of an election
year. Parents, do you worry about the candidate who will be elected? In this
particular election year many Christians are concerned about the potential
nominees. Do your children see you
fearful, discouraged, and even angry about the choice of candidates? Does this
concern prevent you from communicating the comfort that God is the one
establishes authorities (Colossians 1:15-20 and Daniel 2:21)? Will you pass on to your children an attitude
of confidence that God is on the throne even when the political situation is bleak?
Or will they interact with life with worry, frustration or perhaps apathy?

I Timothy 2 directs Christians to pray for those in
government. This is a powerful legacy to give to your children. Imagine the stability
of a home where prayer brings comfort and hope in troubled political times.

Political perspective is just one aspect of your parental
legacy. Perhaps you can think of others. Leave your thoughts in the comments
section. Let’s work together to give our children a legacy that will be carried
forward to their children.


Shepherd Press