In our family, as summer winds up and we move into back-to-school mode, we have…
Friends introduce friends to friends! So please meet my wise, godly, and kind friend, Kathy Howard. Her heart is as big as Texas– for the Bible and for family! I know you will gain from her Biblical wisdom on ways to build into YOUR family!
5 Biblical Principles for Building a Spiritual Legacy
I found the letter in an old metal box. Yellowed and fragile with age, it was dated March 26, 1914. I struggled to read the faded ink. Addressed to Howell Adam Shouse, my great-grandfather on my mother’s side, it was written by his mother, Mary Dozier Shouse, more than a century ago.
Much of the news was what you’d expect – who’d been sick, who’d gotten married, who’d been to visit, and how she longed to see her “dear son.” But one particular paragraph brought me to tears:
“Oh, how much I do pray for you every single morning and night. I pray mightily to the Lord that you Howell and your children may be convicted and converted and sanctified. Never a day do I miss. May God hear and answer my prayers.”
Her prayer reminded me of one of Paul’s for the Christians in Philippi:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ… (Philippians 1:9-10, NIV)
Like Paul, Mary Dozier faithfully prayed for the spiritual well-being of her descendants. And it had far-reaching impact. One of the “children” she prayed for was my maternal grandmother, a godly woman who constantly encouraged me to love Jesus. Mary Dozier’s prayers covered me too!
This letter was a catalyst in my life. First, it challenged me to not just pray for the physical well-being of my loved ones, but to also faithfully pray for their spiritual needs. Second, this discovery increased my desire to find out more about my ancestors and their faith journeys.
The Bible places great value on knowing our family history, specifically our faith roots. The stories of those who have come before us can strengthen and encourage our faith today. As we live intentionally for God, we lay a foundation of faith for those who come after us.
What legacy do you want to leave your family and friends? The most valuable heirloom we can pass down is a legacy of faith. Plus, it’s a God-given responsibility. While we can’t believe for any of our loved ones, we can teach them about our great God and create an atmosphere in our homes where trust in Him can flourish. The following five principles from Scripture are a solid place to start building your own valuable spiritual legacy.
- Be intentional about teaching God’s Word
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV
Timothy “caught” the faith of his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). They paved the way for his salvation by faithfully teaching him the Old Testament Scriptures. We can do the same for our children and grandchildren. Depending on their age, we can do things like read bedtime Bible stories, have family devotions, make a game out of Scripture memory, and hold a yearly Grandkid camp! Those suggestions are just the beginning.
- Model a life of faith founded on God’s Word
For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes in Israel. Ezra 7:10 ESV
Ezra, a leader during the post-exilic period, didn’t just teach God’s Word. First, he set his heart to obey it. What we do always speaks louder than our words. My oldest daughter says that her desire for God’s Word was fostered by seeing me sitting with my Bible each morning. Our children need to see what a life of faith looks like in everyday life.
- Encourage a mindset of faith
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
Sometimes we tend to compartmentalize faith, to put it in a “church” box. But faith should permeate every corner of our lives. When it does, “God talk” with our children will come naturally. When we see a beautiful sunset, we will point them to the Creator. When they have a need, we will lead them to prayer.
- Help them remember what God has done
And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’” Joshua 4:21-22 ESV
Twelve large standing stones by the Jordan River created an opportunity for parents to tell their children how God had brought them across on dry ground. Create your own opportunities to tell your family’s God stories by establishing spiritual markers. Connect a God story to a physical item in your home, then make sure your children know the story.
- Teach them to be thankful
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 1 Chronicles 16:8 ESV
Train tracks run across the Wyoming ranch that belongs to my friend Lloyd. Whenever he hears the whistle, he always stops and thanks God. Lloyd also encourages every family member, friend, and visitor to the ranch to do the same. Lloyd knows that fostering an attitude of gratitude toward God changes our perspective. Establish a thanksgiving prompt for your family by identifying a repeated sight or sound in your home. Then let the gratitude flow!
Kathy Howard is a treasure hunter. She hunts for the creamiest chocolate and richest coffee. She searches for cherished stories of faith that still impact hearts. And, she digs deep into God’s Word, mining His eternal truths for herself and to share with others. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a Masters of Christian Education from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Kathy is the author of 11 books, including “Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” and the new “meaty” devotional series “Deep Rooted.” She writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, six grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org.
“Heirloom: Living and Leaving a Legacy of Faith” tells stories of the past that will impact our faith today. These 52 heart-felt reflections reveal the seeds of our faith―seeds that sprouted and took root, growing through the centuries to today. Heirloom weaves these stories of faith and family history with Scripture, beautiful artwork, and ancestry research tips and techniques. Through these stories of persevering faith you’ll discover the potential your story has to impact future generations. (See “Heirloom” on Amazon.)