In the last year, I have had many opportunities to speak with congregations about the need for family discipleship. While I love speaking with eager parents who want to apply the teaching immediately within their context, I also have this burden for empty-nesters.
In every situation, I have had someone whose children are out of the home say, “I sure wish I would have heard that message 50 years ago. My children are far away from the Lord now. There’s not much I can do.”
In those moments, it doesn’t help to live in regret. What’s past is past. God is more concerned with tomorrow than yesterday.
I try to encourage these empty-nesters that God can still use them in the lives of their children and their grandchildren. While senior adults may have retired from their jobs, they have not retired from the Kingdom of God.
“Loving our children is a promise. A covenant. A chosen occupation. Times will change, and the needs of our kids will change with them.” –The Love Dare for Parents, Day 39
While you will always be your children’s parent, you will not always parent them the same way. As they grow older, they do not need you as a parent in the way they previously needed you.
For young parents, this time is coming quickly. Your identity has to be more than you being a small child’s parent. Think about this: As your role transitions, what future stage of parenting do you think you will find the most challenging personally?
As they grow and develop, there is a chance that they will disappoint you in some way. Do your children believe that you are relentlessly committed to loving them for their entire lives?
While your role as a parent will change, your love for your children must endure. No matter what the upcoming challenges may be, you must assure your children of your steadfast commitment to them.
And just because they are grown and gone and your nest is empty does not mean that your time to impact them has gone away. It is a different role and you must utilize different methods, but your children need to see Christ in you still no matter how old you are or how old they are.
You may not believe this, but the younger folks in your church need you and even want you around. I know our culture says differently, but I hear it all the time. I hear how they want to know people who have stayed faithful for the long haul. How rare it is for people to find mentors to whom they can look up.
In the last month, I have talked with 1 high school student, 2 college students, and 4 young parents who all made some comment to me about how they wish they knew more senior adults who loved Jesus that they could share life with.
I pray that our churches and families would be full of kingdom-minded empty-nesters who are committed to changing generations coming behind them for the cause of Christ.