2 Timothy 1:3-5—“Timothy, I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again. I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.”
Older generations have the responsibility to lead younger generations in the ways of God. What Paul points out to Timothy is that Timothy’s mother and grandmother demonstrated faith to him, which he then took as his own. The greatest thing that can ever be planted and developed into the hearts of children is real, authentic faith, which is “the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Children look to their parents to know what to do and how to act, so what you put your faith in is typically what your children will put their faith in. Don’t disarm the gospel by only talking about it, but never living like you really believe it’s true. Model the confidence and assurance that true faith brings, to your kids and to the rest of the world.
2 Timothy 1:6-7—“This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
Everyone has talents and gifts, and everyone is passionate about something. Find your child’s passions, and then light a fire underneath it: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6). Not every child should be trained the same way. Caring for the younger generation means fanning the flame of their passions and gifts. Get to know your children. Learn how they learn, find out what they are passionate about, and then teach them how to use those passions for the glory of God. Teach them to not be fearful or timid in using those passions for the Kingdom; show them what a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline from God looks like.
2 Timothy 1:8-9—“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
If you don’t identify the specific target your kids should aim for, someone else will. In our culture, targets of all kinds are everywhere, and the younger generation is often the focus. Matthew 6:33 clearly defines what the right target is: “…seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” Our lives, hearts, desires, and passions should all revolve around Jesus. God calls us to live holy lives, which means lives set apart from the rest of the world. Teach your kids that the target they should aim for is God. Paul tells Timothy to “never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.” In Romans 1:16, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes…” Show your kids that their focus should be on honoring God, unashamedly sharing His Good News with the world. Faith, fire, and focus have the ability to change the lives of you and your children, and the lives of those in the world.