As a grandparent, you can love your grandchildren freely and unconditionally and without expectation. You can pray for them and you can speak with them to teach them about your Savior. You can model godly living and godly dying.
It’s probably a reflection of my age and stage of life that I find myself thinking more and more about grandparents and grandparenting. In as much as I can read the future, I’m not particularly close to being one myself, but I’m the kind of person who likes to be prepared—to think about future realities so I can be ready if and when they come. I’m especially interested in knowing how to be a distinctly Christian grandparent. And so, as Aileen and I get into the stage of life where we are probably closer in time to holding grandbabies than our own babies, I find myself looking to the Bible to see what it says about being a grandparent. (Also, I was recently asked to deliver a series of messages on the Christian family and didn’t want to overlook a key component of a strong family!)
Frankly, I haven’t found that it provides much explicit guidance on the matter. The passages on parenting are given to parents, not grandparents. It falls primarily to mom and dad, not grandma and grandpa, to raise the children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Grandparents need to be willing to allow parents to be parents, and to be careful not to overrule or criticize their children as they carry out the task of parenting. I understand that grandparents ought to be very willing to take on a secondary and supporting role.
But what does that supporting role look like? Based on what I have found in the Bible, based on what I’ve observed in the lives of Christians, and based on a number of grandparents I’ve spoken to, I believe it’s one of influence—of spiritual influence. Let me offer two ways I believe grandparents can take on a role of spiritual influence in the lives of their grandchildren.
Influence Through Prayer
The first kind of spiritual influence comes through prayer. As elderly folk let go of other responsibilities in life and perhaps lose the ability to be as active as they once were, they gain the opportunity to pray more. Not only that, but they’ve had many years to grow in their knowledge of God and their relationship with him, so we trust they are praying better than ever before, that they are more intimate with God than ever before, that they are in a closer friendship with God than ever before. They ought to know the power of prayer and to believe in its necessity.