Dr. Ron Hunter has authored or co-authored three books, The DNA of D6: Building Blocks of Generational Discipleship, Youth Ministry in the 21st Century: Five Views, and Toy Box Leadership. He is the CEO of Randall House (publisher of D6 Curriculum—D6 is an abbreviation for Deuteronomy 6) and he is the cofounder and director of the D6 Conference, but his favorite titles are husband and father.
Learn more at d6family.com
When someone tells me how clearly they see my mannerisms in my adult son, I just want to apologize. Quickly the reply reinforces the comment as a compliment but I know how much I wish I had not passed along to my son. Neither he nor I can just walk into a store and buy something. We must do some research, read reviews online, compare three or more options and decide slowly and methodically which is best. My dad did not have the internet when I was younger but I watched my dad do a pros and cons list for most major decisions and he watched my grandfather do same. I never knew my great grandfather on my dad’s side but from the stories, he sounded a lot like those Hunter men who followed him in so many ways. I think we all blow our noses the same loud and annoying way but we also had our noses in the Scripture all because of that same family influence.
Paul noticed a similar trend in Timothy when saying, “how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). How did Timothy know about the Holy Scriptures? The American answer today would suggest that his Sunday School teacher, youth minister, or pastor got him interested. However, back a couple of pages in your Bible you will read, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am convinced is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).
The wording sincere faith suggests a “legit” faith others could see as authentic and able to stand up to the pressures of the culture. Paul reinforced how he knew this faith was genuine in how he was “reminded,” indicating noticeable ways that revealed Timothy’s faith and love for the gospel in ways that were consistent in three generations—his grandmother, his mom, and now Timothy himself. It should be noteworthy that the only time Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, is mentioned reinforces the spiritual legacy and lineage of how the gospel should be shared and adopted from one generation to another.
Paul knew the power of parental influence in the gospel; when speaking to the church at Ephesus he called out all dads, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Paul knew how well dads can push the emotional buttons of their kids and suggested intentionally nurturing a discipleship model where dads taught sons and daughters the instruction of Scripture. That means when giving advice, correcting behavior, and showing God’s intervention, use the Bible and show how it provides instruction for all areas of life. Kids are picking up the habits of each parent and there is no better habit than using the Bible as the source for counsel in faith and life.
How did Paul get so wise in seeing the power of parental sway over their kids? He was a scholar of the Old Testament and had read passages like Psalm 78:4, “We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Dads, Moms, you cannot hide either your love for Christ or your ambivalence for the gospel as a whole. Your kids know how serious you are by the everyday attitudes and actions they see in the home. When you get genuinely excited about Christ, church, and reading the Word, your kids will catch that love and adopt your habits as their own because it will be part of their everyday life. In fact, the psalmist goes on to say that parents and grandparents should point back how God’s acts are so woven into the fabric of life that “the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (Psalm 74:6).
Paul was clear that leaders within the church equip the saints (parents and grandparents) to do the work of making disciple makers who develop a personal relationship with Christ. The centrality of the gospel permeates the home from Lois to Eunice and on to Timothy in genuine ways that change a family’s lineage and the culture around them. His parents made a faith impression that was very observable in how Paul witnessed this legacy. The word impress goes all the way back to that core passage where God commanded parents to “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7). Impress in the Greek means a slow molding, shaping, and sharpening progression. The process requires repetitiveness the same way one memorizes Scripture so as to create an impression that grooves (creates a routine) an automatic evaluation of life according to Scripture.
You can clearly identify the centrality of the gospel in how family created genuine faith in Timothy. Paul equipped Lois and Eunice to pass along their faith and one day would mentor this young disciple, Timothy, as a ministry leader. Church and home must work together as it has throughout the Bible. Most ministry leaders know how to do excellence in church but few know how to help the Eunices to parent with a genuine gospel excellence. We need a nurturing, discipling excellence at church and at home!