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Parenting: FAMILY FOOTPRINTS—The Non-negotiable Steps for Leading Well at Home

I grew up enjoying the childhood activity of ‘follow the leader’. Back in the prairies, it was especially fun to play after a fresh snowfall on our way to and from school (a 4 block walk). With hockey stick in hand, we would take turns being the leader. We’d take big steps, hopping steps, sliding steps, climb snow banks and jump down making tracks as we went. We would expect the others to do exactly what we did with both our steps and our stick (acting like a cane, a pole-vault or a sword). You could tell how well your friends were following by their boot prints in the snow. I remember squawking if they didn’t do exactly as I had.

I squawked as a Dad too but I don’t know if it did much good.

You see, we are leaving footprints every day for our family to follow. But it’s not a game—it is life.  The stakes are high! A future generation of faith is resting on us. There’s no doubt we are leaving tracks. That is a universal fact. Kids follow parents…at least for a while.

So what is it going to take to have your children follow you? Plain and simple. It’s your example. Here are my non-negotiable steps for leading well at home.

Step 1: YOU FOLLOW JESUS CLEARLY AND CONSISTENTLY. Leading well at home is always about passing on what is ultimately most important in life. Without question, that should be your children coming to know and follow Jesus. You as a parent (or grandparent) need to fully seek Jesus first allowing Him to transform you and how you live at home. You are called to follow Jesus’ example in what you do and say in such a way that this primary truth of life is powerfully convincing to those who follow you. We read in 1 Peter 2:21 that Jesus was leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” That is central for any parent. Follow Jesus with your life. Live what you believe.

Step 2: YOU ASK YOUR CHILDREN TO FOLLOW YOU. Sounds like a good idea that most parents just assume will happen. Yet your kids will listen to your words only to the level that they see it backed up by your life. They become what you live—they will reflect who you are. Because they are 24/7 witnesses of your every move, they can do the “scratch and sniff” test to see if you are for real. Do your actions scream so loud that they drown out the lessons you are trying to teach? Say it with your “life” far more than your “lips” in a 5 to 1 ratio. This is affirmed in what I have called for years the Parent’s Prayer. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9). Join me in making this your prayer.

Step 3: YOU CHALLENGE THEM TO LEAD THEIR FAMILIES WELL. The nuclear family is the microcosm of the church. This is where real discipleship should be taking place. Day-to-day, our faith is being observed and passed on to the next generation. Family influence should be the most powerful and effective form of evangelism. It is sad how many times I’ve seen kids walk away from the faith after high school because of their parents. Let’s put 2 Timothy 2:2 in play in the context of the family. And the things you have heard me say [as your parent] in the presence of many witnesses [your siblings] entrust to reliable people [your own children] who will also be qualified to teach others [their children yet unborn]”. This process, as implied in this verse, impacts four generations because the genuine family footprints of faith.

Steve Green’s song the power of leading well at home.

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.

Leave credible footprints as you lead at home. May your kids find you faithful.

© Dr. Dave Currie – February 2015

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