Fulfilling a Grandparent’s Purpose: 10 Practical Tips for Sharing God-stories

The telling of our God-stories can be compared to the placing of large stones as a testimony to God. It is a method for discipleship.

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Deborah Haddix

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We are more than halfway through our exploration of five essential practices for discipling our grandchildren.

To this point, we have surveyed prayer, modeling, and observing traditions. This week, we will delve into the spiritual practice of sharing God-stories.

The telling of stories is a faith sharing method that can be compared to the placing of large stones as a testimony to God. In Old Testament times, it was part of Jewish culture to place a large stone as a testament to something God had done. Not just any stone. Think boulders! These were stones of massive proportion, stones that couldn’t be missed even if one tried. And each one told the story of something God had done for the nation of Israel. One such example is found in the book of Joshua (Joshua 4:1-7).

The stones were intended to be a memorial, a reminder. Like these stones, our stories should be reminders to our children and our grandchildren.

One way we disciple our grandchildren is by telling them of the stones in our lives – the places where God did something really wonderful and amazing and the great lesson or truth we learned.

Through our stories, just as it was in the Jewish culture, a spiritual heritage and understanding of God’s character can be passed to our grandchildren teaching them that while the world around us changes, what God does and who He is does not.

In addition to erecting memorial stones for our grandchildren, there is another reason we need to be telling our stories. This reason comes in the form of a warning.

In Psalm 78:4, Scripture warns us not to hide our God-stories from our grandchildren but to “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might and the wonders that he has done.” The reason behind this warning appears in verse 8 where we read that if we don’t tell our grandchildren our faith stories, they will become “a stubborn and rebellious generation.”

When it comes to discipling our grandchildren, storytelling is a powerful tool, and one that we are instructed to use.

What a challenge to learn that storytelling is an essential part of our grandparenting role! As I work with grandparents across the country, I find that this discovery, in fact, has the tendency to make many a little uncomfortable. For some, the mere thought of speaking their story causes them to break out with beads of sweat. Others, who are not so afraid of the actual telling part, freeze up as they wonder if they even have a story to tell.

1 John 5:10 tells us that if we are believers in Christ, we have a testimony. And what is this testimony? It is the story of Jesus within us. This story includes our witness of the gospel message (the Good News of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension), our salvation story, our faith journey, and our family heritage.

Ever been caught off guard or felt unprepared for a grandchild’s questions about God or your salvation story? Or has there ever been a time that your grandchild asked a question only to dart off to another topic before you could respond?

Don’t take the chance of missing out on an opportunity to share your God-stories. Be prepared by having a brief version of one or two of your God-stories memorized and ready to go.

Why wait for your grandchildren to ask? Take the initiative in sharing your God-stories by setting the stage.

  • Institute bedtime devotions when your grandchildren spend the night and use the time to talk about the works of the Lord.
  • Read Scripture before the day begins or after enjoying a meal together. Then discuss what the passage tells you about God’s character.
  • When you ride in the car, consider sharing your favorite Bible verse with your grandchild and then explaining to them why it is special to you.

For our look at the spiritual practice of observing traditions, we focused much of our attention on Deuteronomy 6:1-9. That same passage has much to say to us around sharing our God-stories.

This directive speaks of the everyday moments of life, the daily routine.

If Moses had been talking with grandparents living in the twenty-first century, I’m sure he would have told us to talk about the Lord when we are sitting at the kitchen table, standing at a soccer match, driving down the road, talking via FaceTime, or sending a text message. In other words, we are to take every opportunity to share the gospel message, our salvation story, our faith journey, and our family heritage with our grandchildren.

In a culture where family mealtime is all but obsolete, be the grandparent who refuses to let go! Schedule reoccurring family meals and gather your family around the dinner table, whether it be once a week or once a month. Be sure to get it on the family’s calendar and stick with it.

Enjoy your family’s favorite foods, reap the benefits of shared mealtime, and take the opportunity to share your story as part of the conversation while gathered around the table.

Asking questions is one of the most powerful tools any grandparent can utilize. Thoughtful, open-ended questions help you learn much about your grandchild. They also forge connection, deepen relationship, and serve as a conversation starter.

Consider introducing your story through a single question or sharing your personal experience through a series of questions that have been pre-planned.

Just as we saw in the practice of observing traditions, we must not overlook the fact that this directive includes a written element. In addition to sharing your story with your grandchildren orally, be sure to share it in writing. One easy way to do this is through journaling.

  • Record the story of your grandchild’s birth from your perspective.
  • Keep an ongoing journal with your grandchildren.
  • Personalize a Bible with written thoughts and reflections from you to your grandchild.

The holidays provide the perfect time for us to teach our grandchildren about Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection.

  • Advent  – explore the names of Jesus.
  • Christmas – use an inexpensive Nativity scene to encourage your grandchildren to learn and tell the Christmas story in their words.
  • Easter – take advantage of store-bought Resurrection eggs or bake Resurrection rolls.

Our faith journey includes stories of answered prayer, lessons learned, Godly-coincidences and examples of God’s mighty hand working in our lives. Don’t lock yourself into oral or written narratives as your only means of sharing.

  • Write a memoir focused on a specific event or portion of time from your life.
  • Keep a prayer journal recording your requests and God’s answers. Be sure to date your entries.
  • Institute a blessing jar filled with thank yous that are reviewed with your grandchildren from time to time.
  • Create “Ebenezers” by gathering stones or other similar items that commemorate answered prayers or works of God in your life. Write a word or verse of Scripture on each stone. Then share your “Ebenezers” with your grandchildren.

In our newfound excitement to tell our stories, we must take care to deliver our stories with respect and sensitivity.

Sadly, not all our grandchildren are being raised in homes that follow Jesus. Many do not attend church regularly. Take care, especially in these situations, to tell your stories rather than preach them. It’s also a good idea to be judicious with your word choices, conscientiously avoiding churchy words.

Additionally, our grandchildren’s physical, emotional, and spiritual maturity are another guiding factor to keep in mind. We should always be aware of these when choosing what to share.

When (or if) our grandchildren are ready, we should share it all – the good, the funny, the sad, the hard – telling of God’s love and grace, no matter the circumstance. We need to be open and honest, not holding back on sharing our struggles and how God helped us through them. Our experiences, all of them, and the wisdom we gained can be an invaluable gift to our grandchildren.

Most importantly, no matter the story we are sharing, we must keep our focus on God. The purpose in our telling, after all, is to exalt Him. While we have the joy of living our stories and telling our stories, they are not about us. They are about Him.

When you tell your stories, be intentional about sharing what God is doing now. It is easy to fall into the habit of talking about the past. But God is still at work in our lives today, and our grandchildren need to hear this. Include the now in your telling.

And finally, deliver your stories with Holy Spirit boldness. Rest in the fact that we are not tasked with proving anything. Nor are we responsible for outcomes. God simply asks us to be witnesses and to tell our God-stories. The results are in His hands.

There is an undisputed power in story. Stories stick in our minds. They help impress upon our hearts and minds the truths of God’s world and work in our lives. Stories also help us see and feel, enabling truth to become more than mere information.

Jesus knew the power of story, and He often used it in His teaching. As a matter of fact, His stories (parables) are imbued with such power they are still transforming lives today. The Bible is God’s story… and ours. As grandparents, we need to tell our stories so that our grandchildren can see how these stories are woven into the bigger reality of God’s redemptive story.

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About the Author

Deborah Haddix

I am a child of God, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, niece, and friend who loves nothing better than spending time with those I love.

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