It can happen in the best of families. Tensions grow when a new grandchild arrives and the new mom and grandma have some significant disagreement on the best way to care for that newborn. Or Grandpa sees some behavioral concerns in a young grandchild that he believes needs to be dealt with, and Dad has a different way of handling that.
These are common issues, and usually easier scenarios to deal with compared to matters of faith when a parent or spouse wants nothing to do with Christianity or church. It hurts deeply when even the mention of Jesus or the Bible around the grandchildren is forbidden. Besides the questions surrounding how we got to this place, the bigger question is what do we, as grandparents, do about it?
No One Size Fits All
There is no one-size-fits-all formula guaranteeing resolution of these matters to the satisfaction of everyone involved, but there are some basic biblical practices that can help cultivate a healthy, respectful environment in any family. When put into practice diligently and consistently, God can use these biblical principles to transform strained or broken relationships. They also work for maintaining strong, healthy relationships.
So, let me take you to the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesian church to unpack with you five ways you can lead the way in building an environment of trust, respect and conciliation. Put them into practice and see if it doesn’t make a difference. Here are the five ways:
1. Be Completely Humble and Gentle (Eph. 4:2)
2. Be Patience and Restrained (Eph. 4:2)
3. Be Forgiving and Compassionate (Eph. 4:32)
4. Be a Peacemaker (Eph. 4:3)
5. Blessing (Eph. 4:29)
We’ll examine each of these, one at a time, over the next five weeks. So, let’s dig into the one at the top of the list, the foundational quality for all the rest…
Be Completely Humble and Gentle
Humility is one of those things we talk about a lot, but it’s one of the hardest things in life to consistently practice. Paul defines humility as “considering others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). It comes down to not being so concerned with my own interests and agenda as the interests of others. Our example is Jesus Himself, who laid aside all His glory and authority to become “nothing” as human being.
Humility is paired with gentleness in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians because they are complementary qualities. Pride always wants the last word, and is often mean-spirited. Humility not only seeks the best interests of other above its own, but does so with gentleness and kindness.
Practicing humility relieves us of the need to tell a young mother how to raise or discipline her children. It recognizes that perceptions matter. It produces a gentle spirit that does not push our faith upon our adult children (or grandchildren), but lives so that our walk and our talk match. Perhaps, because of our gentle and humble spirit, they might be more receptive.
If we feel the need to constantly push back because they don’t believe as we believe, that is not humility. It’s pride, and God opposes the proud. Humility certainly does not preclude speaking the truth, but it does so with grace and gentleness worthy of our Lord and the calling we have received.
GrandPause Action Step
Write down one thing God may be revealing to you in this area of humility that you can change right now. Ask God to show you how to put that in practice in your family in a way that is worthy of the calling you have received.