Grandparents: Legacy Builders

New World UMCPastor's Blog

I had shared with you before how my grandmother was the one who brought me to church and made sure I learned the teachings of Jesus. She is the one who taught and passed the Christian faith to the rest of the family and me. She was the pioneer of faith among us. Without her, I would not be here where I am, and I can’t imagine how different my life would have turned. She had a commitment to my faith development. And, of course, she also spoiled us with sweet treats and delicious meals.

It is often said that children are the future. However, that implies that older people, grandparents, are the past, suggesting they are no longer needed. But that is a wrong assumption and just a horrible thought to entertain.

How would children be the future if they did not have grandparents’ nurturing, caring, and wisdom? If anything, grandparents are the ones who make sure their grandchildren have a future. Grandparents are not the past; they are legacy builders. To me, that sounds very futuristic.

I recently read a sermon that cited a British historian, Professor Gordon Rupp, who was asked how the church could survive the decades of persecution and communist propaganda in Russia. Mr. Rupp answered, “It is largely due to grandparents.” The communists mistakenly assumed that the church was doomed, with no future, because it was mainly made up of old people. But they failed to realize that grandparents often are the ones who pass the faith to their grandchildren and have the most significant impact on their lives. Eventually, the church overcame the communists’ persecution because of how grandparents passed their faith and values to younger generations.

An analogy that comes to mind sometimes when I think of grandparents and their grandchildren is that of a gasoline engine. The engine produces two kinds of power: torque and horsepower. Torque is like the engine’s muscle, which turns all the mechanical pieces to produce the horsepower. Torque is the force you feel pushing you back in your seat on acceleration, while horsepower is the speed achieved at the end of that acceleration.

In this analogy, grandparents are the torque force, the power that turns the wheels and pushes you forward; and the grandchildren are, well, the horses. In other words, just as in communists Russia, grandparents are the ones who give their families a future and push.

Nevertheless, this is not always a reality for many grandparents. Sometimes they feel unwanted, unappreciated, and a bother. I see this when I get to visit people and hear their stories. I discern that they think they have no value or purpose anymore because of their age. They think they are done and have little to do anymore. Although life does change and transitions us to different seasons, our divine purpose is not tied to a specific age but stays with us all the days of our lives.

But today, I want to make this clear: Grandparents are the ultimate Legacy Builders. They are the force, the torque that pushes us forward and give us the wisdom, encouragement, and confidence to “gallop.”

Such is the case of Timothy, a gifted preacher and teacher of the gospel in the early church. Timothy was the apostle Paul’s disciple and quickly emerged as leader in the early church. Though Paul was instructing and guiding him in his calling, Timothy was not a product of Paul; he was a legacy of his grandmother Lois. Grandma Lois is the one who passed the faith to Timothy’s mom, Eunice, and him. As a result, Timothy followed in their footsteps as a faithful disciple of Jesus as Paul mentored him to be a church leader.

Listen to what Paul says about Timothy and grandma Lois in 2 Timothy 1:1-7

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands, for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.”

And, in 2 Timothy 3:14-15,

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have known sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Paul is giving us insight into the life of Timothy. He is telling us as he reminds Timothy that Timothy is the legacy of a godly heritage through his grandmother, Lois. Timothy was the church’s future because he had a family who was helping build it for him by nurturing and instructing faith in him.

I can relate to this because this is my story too, and I know it is the story of many of you here. Most of my family were not Christians when I was a child. However, my grandmother’s faith influenced me and then, through me, touched my family and friends.

My friends, we are not self-made, but we are the legacy of love and commitment from those who love us in ways we can’t even imagine. Those that held us as babies and spoiled us as we grew up. Their joy was our happiness. That is how we knew (and know) we were (and are) loved.

So, on this Grandparents Sunday, people like grandma Lois remind us of our impact on our grandchildren and the value and influence grandparents have on their families.

Today, a grandparent among us, like grandma Lois, will share his experience with us. Here is John Rhodes’ testimony of legacy…