I was raised in a Christian home. For this, I am grateful. I know that my parents’ faith strongly influenced my coming to faith. That is not to say that every Christian parents’ children will be a Christian, just as not everyone who is a Christian had Christian parents. But the influence is strong. I learned to worship God and have faith from a young age, just as my children are learning now. We talk about God, read and discuss the Bible, attend church together, etc. It is my hope that my children see in me and learn enough from me about God to want to follow him into their adulthood, just as I did.
Reading through the books of the kings (1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles), there is a repeating theme. Often times, it would say that a king pleased God with their lives just as their fathers did, or it would say that they did evil before the Lord, just as their fathers did. There are times when the children swung the other way, from Godly fathers to being evil kings, or from having evil fathers to being Godly kings themselves. But time and time again, most of them were following the influence of their fathers. One particular instance stood out to me when I was reading yesterday, because it demonstrates three important truths about being a Godly parent and leader:
Jotham did what was pleasing in the Lord ’s sight. He did everything his father, Uzziah, had done, except that Jotham did not sin by entering the Temple of the Lord . But the people continued in their corrupt ways. (2 Chronicles 27:2)
Jotham’s dad was king before him. He was a Godly king who did most things right. Uzziah saw his positive example and followed it. However, his dad, in anger, did something stupid, too. He went into the temple where he was not allowed to go, and when confronted with this truth by the priests, he got angry and began to yell at them. Instead of heeding God’s instructions, he wanted to do what he wanted to do. God struck him with leprosy, which he had until he died. Jotham also saw this, and instead of rising to his dad’s level, he learned from his mistakes and exceeded his dad’s example. And yet, despite having two Godly kings in a row that sought to please God and have the people follow after God, Judah continued living sinful, corrupt lives. This, sadly, included Jotham’s son Ahaz, as you’d read in chapter 28. He did not follow God like his father and grandfather.
As I read this, I had three thoughts strike me:
- Children learn to serve God from their parents, just as Jotham learned from Uzziah.
- Children can go on to walk more closely with God than their parents. You can exceed their example, just as Jotham did.
- You can lead well, as a Godly king, leader, and parent, and the people you lead – your children, people in your church, etc. – might still walk away.
Parents obviously have influence. What Jotham did that was pleasing was exactly what his father had done. He learned that. Your children are watching and learning. But his dad didn’t control him. He was able to rise above his mistakes. Don’t limit yourself to what your parents did and didn’t do. If you need to, rise above the example and exceed expectations you’ve put on yourself based on your parents. On the other hand, some of you parents have done all you could. You followed God and taught your children to do the same, but your children have walked away from God. Don’t beat yourself up. All you can do is lead by example. You can influence your children, but you cannot control them. If they’ve walked away from God, away from your example, don’t give up. Keep praying for them. Keep loving them. Keep demonstrating the love of God to them. Maintain your influence.