Robert Jeffress - Success Without Succession Is Failure
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Every Christian parent longs to see his or her child come to Christ. It was such a joy to see my daughters, Julia and Dorothy, develop their own, personal relationship with Jesus. And I'm praying that my three new grandchildren will know Jesus at an early age as well. How can parents and grandparents draw their children toward the faith, rather than away from it? It starts by intentionally choosing to mentor and train them. My message is titled, "Success Without Succession is Failure", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
The key to experiencing success in every part of your life is wisdom. Someone has said that wisdom is the skill to live your life according to God's plan, according to his pattern. And the book of Proverbs is really a depository of wisdom that guarantees success in every part of your life. The reason wisdom is important is because God's wisdom is often opposite of man's wisdom. And that's why I call these secrets: I call them the Solomon secrets - ten pieces of uncommon sense. They go against the grain of conventional wisdom. Well today we're going to look at a second Solomon secret for success that's especially appropriate today.
Man's wisdom says our influence in this world ends the moment that we die. No, God's wisdom says our greatest influence on this world continues after we die in the children and the grandchildren we leave behind. The fact is all of us are going to die. Have you come to grips with that fact? You are going to die. And that's why it is so critical that we give our children and our grandchildren the keys they need to live successfully in this life as well as the life to come. And that's why the second Solomon secret we're going to look at today is one that is best articulated by my friend Bill Spears, a member of our church, the CEO of synergistic corporation. Bill says it this way: success without succession is failure. Actually that truth comes from God's word itself.
If you have your Bibles, turn to Proverbs 22. Proverbs 22. Now what I would like to do is: I would like to take that word "Success" and use it as an acrostic for seven keys of being a successful mom or dad. Are you ready to go? We're going to move really quickly today. If you want to be a successful parent and grandparent - mark these seven steps down.
The first "S" in the word "Success" stands for this: successful parents see their children as a gift from God. A successful parent is one who sees his children as a gift from God. Now let's all be honest - being a parent can be frustrating at times. Amen? I think about the story of the mother of eight who was talking to a neighbor one morning, and she said: it got so wild and loud around our house today: I finally said the next person who screams is going to have his mouth washed out with soap. Then the mom said to her friend: you know what? I can still taste the stuff in my mouth. A successful parent is one who sees his child as an inheritance, a gift from God.
In Psalm 127:3, the Psalmist said, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward". That word "Gift" in Hebrew is a word that literally means "inheritance". Children are an inheritance from God. In fact, that word "inheritance" is the same Hebrew word that was used to describe the Promised Land that God gave to Israel. And that truth has three implications. The fact that children are God's gift to us that means, first of all, children are gifts of real value. Just like that piece of real estate in the Middle East had great value to the Israelites, so our children have great value to us. Secondly, children are gifts for which we will one day be held accountable. You understand that parents?
2 Corinthians 5:10 reminds us that, "We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that each one may be rewarded for what we have done in the body, whether it be good or bad". The fact is those of us who are Christians are going to be judged one day. As we stand before that Judgment Seat of Christ, I think God is going to ask us did we impart to our children the skills they needed to live life successfully. Did we convince them there are at least two people in the world who love them unconditionally? Did we teach them not only by our word, but by our example that the most important thing in life is following and serving Jesus Christ?
Our children are gifts for which we will one day be held accountable. And thirdly, our children are temporary gifts. One of the saddest things I ever have to do as a pastor is to participate, to preside at the funeral service of a child or a teenager. Even if your child isn't taken from you prematurely in death, they're soon going to be leaving you. You understand that, don't you? You only have your children for a short amount of time until they leave, go off to school, go on to pursue their own interest and build their own families? Author Tim Hansel claims that if you're 35-years-old and live to be 70 - that means you only have 500 days left to live after you subtract the time you spend eating, sleeping, and working. Hansel says, "When I put my life into that context, it helps me realize that I'm a father for so short a time I dare not take it for granted".
To be a successful parent, first of all, you need to see your children as gifts from the Lord. Secondly, successful parents - the "U" stands for understand, accept, and develop their child's bent. Understand, accept, and develop their child's bent. A successful parents is one who understands how unique his or her child is, and seeks to develop that uniqueness and maximize it. Our friend Dr. James Dobson says: each child is hand-stitched by the Lord, not mass-manufactured in some sweatshop. Their personality is cut from a unique bolt of cloth, like snowflakes and fingerprints - no two children are alike.
Solomon understood that truth. Look at Proverbs 22:6. This is one of the most familiar verses about parenting in all of the Bible. Most of us can say it by heart and yet most people don't have a clue what it really means and have actually misapplied it and caused themselves unnecessary guilt as parents. You know what Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it". You know how most people interpret that verse? They think it means if you instill godly values in your child, and even if your child rebels against you or God they will return to a right relationship with God. Train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it.
The only problem with that application is: we all know it's not true. The key to understanding this verse correctly is understanding that phrase "In the way he should go". That's not talking about the moral or spiritual direction. That phrase "In the way he should go" is a Hebrew phrase that could be translated "According to his natural bent". That is, train your child according to his natural inclinations because even when he's an old person, he will still follow those inclinations. It's talking about your child's uniqueness.
What Solomon is saying is this: if your child is more cerebral than athletic - it doesn't matter how many sports activities your child is enrolled in - he will always veer toward the academic rather than the athletic. If your child is born as a leader - they'll be a leader on the third grade playground just like they will be when they are an adult. They'll have that inclination toward leadership. If your child is inclined toward music - he or she will always have that draw, that inclination that will draw them to the piano bench. Shakespeare once said it is a wise parent who knows his child. Solomon said it is a successful parent who knows, understands, develops, and maximizes his child's unique bent.
Number three, successful parents - the "C" stands for "Commit to lead their children to Christ". Successful, parents, number three, commit to lead their children to Christ. A visitor was at the estate of English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. And they got into an argument, and this visitor said to Coleridge: I don't think parents ought to interfere with their kids' spiritual development. I don't think parents ought to religiously indoctrinate their children: instead they ought to let them grow however they want to grow without any interference from them. Coleridge didn't say anything in response. Instead he invited his visitor to come out back to look at the garden he had prepared. And when they got to the so-called garden, the visitor pointed at it and said: that's not a garden, that's just a patch of weeds. Coleridge said: well it used to be a garden, but then I decided to let it grow however it wanted to grow without any interference from me.
The fact is our responsibility as a parent is to teach our children: it is to allow them to come to faith in Jesus Christ. And we see that in Solomon's words as well. In Proverbs 4 Solomon encourages his children to follow the same spiritual teaching he had received from his father David. It wasn't passive, it was very intentional. In Proverbs 4:3-4 Solomon said, "When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me and said to me, 'let your heart hold fast my words: keep my commandments and live'". Solomon said: I learned invaluable spiritual truth from both my mother and my father.
Mom, dad, grandmother, grandfather do your children know how to experience God's forgiveness? Do you recognize the fact that that child you look across the breakfast table at every morning, do you realize that unless something happens in that child's life and he comes to faith in Christ that he is headed for an eternity of separation from God? The most important task we have as parents is leading our children to faith in Christ. Successful parents commit to leading their children to faith in Christ.
The second "C" in this, number four is: communicate spiritual values to your children. Communicate spiritual values to your children. You see your responsibility as a parent doesn't end when they become a Christian it actually begins at that point. Dr. Albert Siegel said in the Stanford Observer, "When it comes to rearing children every society is only 20 years away from barbarianism. Twenty years is all we have to accomplish the task of civilizing infants who are born into our midst each year".
Parents listen to me, if you're trying to raise godly children in this godless culture you're swimming upstream. Every day your children are being assaulted through the media, through friends, through life experiences with values that are completely contrary to your values, but more importantly to God's values. And that's why we have to be proactive in teaching spiritual truth to our children. We've got to remind our children that they have an adversary, the devil, who is doing everything he can to destroy every part of their life. We need to be proactive, we need to be intense, we need to sound the alarm.
But that's not the only thing we're to do. Our spiritual instruction ought to be a part of our everyday life. It ought to happen when you sit down at the dinner table: or in some cases when you're in your car in the drive-thru through chick-fil-a, you know wherever dinner is for you. Use that time to talk about spiritual truth. When you're sitting around and watching a television program, a television program that maybe goes against God's truth use that as a teaching opportunity. Look for those teachable moments to communicate spiritual truth.
Number five successful parents, the "E" stands for "Exemplify godly character". They exemplify godly character. Perhaps you've heard this saying: some truths are better caught than taught. That's true when it comes to spiritual values. Yes, our words are very important, but our words have to be reinforced by our actions. It's not enough to just talk the talk: we have to be willing to walk the walk. That's what the Bible is talking about here as well. We need to exemplify godly character.
That's why Moses said, look at Deuteronomy 6, he addresses parents first. He said: parents, you can't give away something you don't possess. He says in verse 5, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you shall be on", underline that, "Your heart". And then and only then can you teach them diligently to your children. Make sure that you exemplify godly character. Yes, our children are listening, but they're also watching.
Number six, successful parents "[S"eek to discipline their children consistently. Solomon devotes a lot of ink to the subject of the discipline of children in the book of Proverbs. We don't have time this morning to examine everything he says but I can distill everything he says about disciplining children with these three principles from the book of Proverbs. First of all, Solomon says discipline should begin early in life. In Proverbs 13:24 he says, "He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently". And there the word "Diligently" literally means "At early dawn". If you love your child, you will discipline him at early dawn.
That doesn't mean you wake your kid up every morning at 5:30 for their daily beating, ok. That's not what he's talking about. The phrase "at early dawn" means early in life. Don't wait until your child is 13 or 14 to try to discipline them. Effective discipline begins early in life. Secondly, discipline should be tailor-made for the child. It needs to be tailor-made for the child. You know there's this running debate in Christian circles and educational circles: what's more effective - physical corporal punishment or verbal reproof. The answer is: yes. Both are effective. Both are necessary depending upon the child and depending upon the situation.
No, we're not talking about child abuse here. What Solomon is talking about is the appropriate physical discipline of a child that's done in love not out of anger. If it's done correctly, it will not only stop their rebellion against their parents, but against, ultimately - God. Because, you see parents, a child's rebellion if left unchecked, unchallenged will eventually metastasize into rebellion against God that will lead that child into hell. That's why the most loving thing we can do is to discipline our children. And that's why Proverbs 29:17 says, "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort: he will also delight your soul". That word "Correct" literally means "Verbally reprove" your child.
Number three, discipline should be grounded in love. One way we know that God loves us is he doesn't let us get away with anything. If you're a child of God, God is not going to let you get away with rebellion. He is going to bring discipline into your life. One writer said it this way: the parent must convince himself that punishment is something he does to the child it is something he does for the child. The parent's attitude toward his disobedient youngster is this: I love you too much to allow you to behave like that.
Number seven, successful parents are those who "S"pend time with their children. I'll admit, there's no proverb specifically that says that, but it certainly inferred by everything else we've looked at this morning. It takes time to communicate spiritual truth to your children: to lead them to faith in Christ: to understand, develop, and maximize your child's bent. It takes time. It takes a quality of time, but it also takes a quantity of time.
Now I realize I'm speaking to some of you who are parents who have done the best you knew to do. You tried to apply these principles, but you feel like you have failed as a parent. Maybe there's a broken relationship you have with your child, or maybe your child is not living according to God's principles, and you're overwhelmed with guilt over that. Let me remind you of something. The first two people who lived on this planet were Adam and Eve. They had a perfect Heavenly Father. They lived in a perfect environment, the Garden of Eden. And yet they rebelled against God.
Wherever there is freedom, there's the possibility of rebellion. And that's why this book we're studying on Sunday mornings: you know what the title of it is? The title is not promises - it's Proverbs. There's no money-back guarantee that if you do everything we've talked about this morning you're going to raise perfect, godly children. But here is the promise: parents who follow these principles are going to be more successful than parents who ignore these principles from God's word. There's a fascinating story that comes from our nation's histories.
Steve Farrar recounts it in his book, "Anchor Man". Listen to this:
George S. Patton from an early age was groomed by his father for admission to the Virginia Military Institute. When Patton graduated he was second in his class and rated first in tactics, mathematics, latin, geology, and chemistry. Patton was described, by one who knew him well, as an arrogant, a smart dresser, and he displayed classic chivalry toward ladies making him a dashing romantic figure. Devoutly religious, or at least by his own standards, general Patton also encouraged his men to attend chapel and rarely missed an opportunity to pray on his knees before God. According to one of his biographers, Patton was a visionary who saw war clouds on the horizon and was determined to prepare for action. He was virtually fearless in combat. The George S. Patton I just described was the grandfather of the Patton whom America knows so well. He was the George S. Patton who died in 1864 from wounds sustained in the civil war. The George S. Patton that America knows so well is George S. Patton the Third. But the Patton about whom it was said: we shall never look upon his kind again was his grandfather. The truth is we did see his kind again and we saw it in his grandson.
Don't neglect one of Solomon's most basic truths, and that truth is this: when you leave this world, you don't really leave. When you exit life's stage for the last time, your likeness appears again and again in the children and the grandchildren you leave behind. That's why Solomon says: success without succession is failure.