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Creating Spiritual Rites of Passage for Your Children

Air Date 09/26/2016

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Radio host and author Jim Burns draws upon his years of parenting experience and work with young people to provide parents with some creative and simple spiritual rites of passage for their kids.

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Episode Transcript


John Fuller: So, the question is, what kind of legacy are you leaving your children, grandchildren and future generations? Have you even thought about that? Well, Jim Burns is our guest today on "Focus on the Family." And he's gonna help you be intentional about passing on your faith to impact hundreds of family members who will come behind you. Our host is Focus president, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.


Jim Daly: John, this idea of leaving a lasting legacy is certainly on my mind, because I have two teenage boys in the home right now and I am thinking a lot about how do I instill those values that I want to give them, hopefully, those things that have worked for me, not just those spiritual truths, but also practical truths. And that's something I really am thinking a lot about every day. I'm sure you are, too, especially if you have children still in the home. But even if you have 20-, 30-something adult kids, you're thinkin' about it, as well.

And today we're gonna talk about it with a very special guest. Jim Burns is a popular youth and family expert. I think he conducts more parenting and youth seminars than anyone else (Chuckling) on the planet, I think 150 or something, so I mean, he knows his stuff.

Jim is president of HomeWord and executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. He's also the founder and host of the "HomeWord" radio program. Jim, you are a good friend. Welcome back to "Focus on the Family."

Jim Burns: Well, it's great to be with you both and great to be with your listeners and it is always a pleasure for me to get to have.

Jim D.: You know, one of the things, whenever we sit across from each other and have a cup of tea or coffee, the energy I love. I can see why God called you into youth ministry, because you're kinda the kid at heart.

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: And you're bubblin' with energy all the time.

Jim B.: Well—

Jim D.: Is that just who you are?

Jim B.: --that kinda is me. I mean, Cathy says I have speed, energy and then I just crash. So, I mean—

Jim D.: It may—

Jim B.: --I'm one or the other.

Jim D.: --not work so well in a marriage (Laughter), but it works for kids.

Jim B.: But you know what? My parents always used to say, "When are you gonna get a real job?" Because for years I worked with kids and I loved it and I didn't want to go anyplace. You know, when are you gonna get the real job?

The interesting side to it is, now that I'm spending more time with parenting issues, marriage issues, I still wake up thinkin' about kids. How do I help kids here in the United States, around the world? And how do I help parents build that legacy?

And so, you know, I'm still a youth worker at heart and you know, so that's a part of it. But you have a little bit of that of you also, Jim.

Jim D.: That's why we can't be seen together too often—

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: --(Laughing) 'cause—

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: --we're just—

Jim B.: You're a little dangerous--

Jim D.: --laughin' and havin' fun.

Jim B.: --and fun. Exactly.

Jim D.: But let me ask you, Jim, it seems that there's kinda two camps of parenting concerns. You have the camp that's saying, you know what? Kids are kids. It's the same as it was in the '50's or 100 years ago. I mean, this is what kids do. This is what parents need to do, and this is the relationship.

Then you've got the other camp, and we're goin, "This is a darker world—Internet pornography, all the things that kids can get in trouble with. It's more onerous today to be a parent." Speak to that different style, that different, I guess, observation as a parent--some that are laid back, others that are more anxious, fearful about the world their kids are being brought up in.

Jim B.: You know, I think we need to have both. It's both and. Well, I mean, we were 6, 8, 11, 13, 18, 22, but we were never their age, because of that dark side you're talking about—pornography and the list goes on. I mean, it's a scary world in some ways, and so parents have to be more intentional than they've ever been before.

At the same time, we also have to know that if we do the right things and I think a whole generation of parents [is] doing much better at building legacy, at helping kids with character, helping them grow spiritually. I honestly think that if we do that, then we don't have this need to be so fearful because we're gonna be the more powerful influence, when you're talking even spiritually. You know, all studies show that the most powerful influence in a kid's life is mom and then dad--

Jim D.: Huh.

Jim B.: --then grandparents.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: The church is No. 5. Well, you know, I was a youth pastor at one time and I thought maybe it was youth ministry, but it's not. It's the parents. So, when we are proactive and intentional about it, I think it really does make a difference. So, yeah, do we need to be fearful? Sure. Do we also need to be a little bit laid back and do the thing right and now expect it to be perfect? And people keep waiting for this perfect home. (Laughter) I haven't seen that.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: I know you guys and I know your homes (Laughter) aren't perfect, and I know my home's definitely not perfect.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: And you know, even parents need to hear that really good parenting, sometimes kids will still make poor choices.

Jim: Absolutely and now you've in this book, Pass It On, talk about the rite of passage and those kinds of things. One of the things that seems to be breaking down, it maybe the outside influences that are coming in, is formulas.

And again, we're big on formulas, you know, If we do A, B and C, we get child D. And that child will love the Lord and be a successful whatever. It doesn't necessarily work that way. It's good to have positive inputs, but if you're a scientific thinker, if you're an engineer mind, and you're tryin' to do this with your children, look out, because God has a lot of children that He's tried to point in the right direction and we say no.

Jim B.: Oh, I mean, look at some of His leaders. But I mean, here's the answer. A sinner marries another sinner, and then you have "sinnerlings" (Laughter).

Jim: Sinnerlings! I like that. (Laughter)

Jim B.: Well, the fact is—

John: "Sinnerlings," new word

John B.: --that's not gonna mean that, that scientific issue is gonna work always or that program is gonna work. At the same time, there are strategies and I think for a lot of us, I wasn't raised in a Christian home, so I became, you know, Jim, you and I talked about this prior to the broadcast. Both of us are transitional generation, which means that the Bible says you inherit the sins of a previous generation. And then you either recover or repeat. And so, you know, both you and Jean, Cathy and me, we're people who are tryin' to recover and not repeat—

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: --a lifestyle, you know, really change the direction. But to do that, there's a strategy per se and we even can talk about that today on the broadcast. There are some healthy strategies, but there's not some formula that's magic. And a lot of us as Christians are looking for the easy way out. We want to just do this formula, and if they read this book, or they go to this school, or you know, they have this experience that doesn't work, because again, we're human beings.

Jim D.: So, for that person, what is a good strategy to kinda decouple that intensity that creates so much pressure in the home and so much anxiety? How can the parent take the deep breath and say, okay, let's try something different?

Jim B.: Yeah, well, I think it starts with integrity. You know, the Bible says that the man or woman of integrity walks securely. And I that when a man or a woman try their best at walking with integrity, that doesn't mean perfection. That means authenticity and being real. Then I think their kids will feel more secure, too.

Jim D.: Huh.

Jim B.: It's a beautiful Scripture. And in reality, part of integrity is saying, let's do the best we can with what we've got, and let's make sure that we're not just doing it alone, but let's also bring in the Lord. You know, the Jews had a strategy and in Hebrew, they call it "the Shema" and it's the holy of holies. And the Shema is found in Deuteronomy 6: 4 through 9. And if you ask any orthodox Jew today, during the time of Jesus, during the time of Moses or even before it was written in Deuteronomy, and you said, "What is the road map to a healthy family?" they would say, "Oh, it's 'Love the Lord, your God with all of your heart, mind, body and soul.'"

In fact, Jesus was asked that in the Gospels. They were testing him and we just see how beautiful that is. He said, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, body and soul. Love your neighbor as you love yourself."

And when He said, "The greatest commandment is "Love the Lord, your God," they all went, "Oh, okay. He's one of us," because they all said that. So, at least they had a road map. But a lot of times as Christians and even people who are not Christians yet, there are some good parents, so what happens is, is if you asked them, they'll have good ideas, but the beauty of the Shema says that we're to love God, and faithfulness and fidelity, so, that's gonna be a part of the home.

Secondly, it says, how do you impress faith on children? You impress faith on children, actually by parents living it out and then impressing it on their children, taking the first role. So, I never thought of myself as the discipler of my children. I was a youth worker.

Jim D.: Huh.

Jim B.: And I was a discipler of kids, but not necessarily thinking that, that was my role. So, that next part of that Scripture says, you impress it on your children. Then it even tells you how to do it. You know, "when you get up in the morning, when you walk along the road," which would be for us driving (Chuckling). When you go about life, you bring the presence of God into it.

So, I think that's a part of the road map that perhaps we've missed, because for better or for worse, our churches do really good in children's ministry, and they do really good in youth ministry. So, what that means is, we'll say, "Well, we'll let the professionals take care of it."

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: But the fact is, as all studies show that the kids who are staying in the church when they graduate from say high school, are the kids who had faith conversations in the home, but they weren't toxic faith conversations, and they weren't necessarily long. Sometimes they're even goofy or awkward, but you know, the Lord is present in the home and—

Jim D.: How—

Jim B.: --and the kids know it.

Jim D.: --how would you describe that? 'You know, to be fair, Jean and I have this struggle in parenting our boys. And you know, sometimes for her, she likes a very formal devotional. You know, let's sit down after dinner. We're gonna spend 30 minutes together. And the boys actually, to their credit, our boys are really eager to read the Word. I'm so grateful for that—

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: --even at 15 and 13.

Jim B.: That's incredible, by the way.

Jim D.: They want to be engaged. They want to read, and so we'll do that. We'll read a chapter of Mark, or you know, we're tryin' to just work our way through the New Testament. And I am grateful for that and yet, Jean and I in the background, we're having a conversation that, you know, she's concerned that it's not enough. And I'm saying, "But Jean, every day I take the boys to school, we're reading Proverbs together and we're having chats in the car together." And sometimes within the marriage a mom and a dad can be at different ends of that, especially with gender issues, 'cause boys want to be active. And you want to teach them on the go.

So, when we're on the move is where I find the best opportunity to speak with them about spiritual truth. "Oh, you see that guy at the checkout. He was so upset. Is that the way you'd want to treat somebody?" It's those moments that you can catch and give 'em a lesson, as opposed to sitting boys down, saying, "Be still." (Laughing) You know, "Don't move, and I want to read from Scripture." And they're going, "No, no, I don't want to do that."

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: Talk to the parents about relaxing a little bit and coming up—

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: --with different ways.

Jim B.: Right, right and actually, I think that for some kids, the formal side does work. But I call this "personally tailored discipleship."

Jim D.: Huh.

Jim B.: I had one daughter who actually would've taken the more formal route and she related.

Jim D.: And done well with it.

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: Two daughters who, if we did the formal route, they would've gone, "No, not family devotions!" In my situation with my kids, I'm kinda more Jean, and Jean is more you. So—

Jim D.: Right. (Laughter)

Jim B.: --what happens is, I'm doing the family devotional and I'm speaking and, you know, at that time I was probably speaking to a quarter of a million kids, high school kids as a youth speaker, so I think I'm doin' pretty good for the 9-, 7- and 5-year-old. And Cathy goes, "Hey, no offense," and whenever my wife says, "No offense"—

John: Oh, no.

Jim D.: Yeah, (Laughing) you know there's a problem. (Laughter)

Jim B.: But the girls are bored and so being the good—

John: Yeah.

Jim B.: --passive-aggressive husband, father, I said, "Fine. You know, you take over." So, she did a play with the girls. And she didn't call it "devotion." She called it, we're just gonna have some family time. And she cheated, because she had chocolate and licorice for a 5-, 7- and 9-year-old. (Laughter) So, she brings that together. And then they chose to act out the story of Adam and Eve. Well, you know what? She won big time, and she actually taught me a great lesson, that my girls could still want to do something with the Word of God, but they just didn't want to hear Jim saying, "Here's three points, and here's what the Greek says."

Jim D.: Yeah, right. (Laughter) That's what I'm saying.

Jim B.: Right, but one of my daughters would've probably wanted to do that. So, on our other times, like I did more of a Bible study with her and got away with it, where with the other two, it had to be much more the action-packed things.

Jim D.: Hm.

John: Well, Jim Burns is our guest, offering some great insights about kinda loosening up in our roles, but being more intentional at the same time. And he's captured a lot of his thoughts in a variety of books. The one that we're kinda dialing into today is about a legacy of faith for your kids. It's called Pass It On, and we've got details about the book and a CD or a download of this conversation at call us and we can tell you more, 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim D.: Jim, you talk in the book about the rights of passage. We touched on that briefly. Let's give the listener some scope of what that is.

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: What does it mean to have a rite of passage and the fact that we really don't do that in our culture in North America?

Jim B.: No, no, you know, and yet, we do rites of passage all the time. I mean, it could be, today I was talking with somebody early today who had a kindergartner who--they had just been to the graduation--it was a grandma and a grandpa, we were at breakfast and that was a rite of passage.

Jim D.: Sure.

Jim B.: Okay and somebody's who's gonna get a driver's license real soon, that's a rite of passage. Being baptized is a rite of passage. So, there are spiritual ones that we sure have in the church. But also, you know, we just go through rites of passage.

Other cultures and you mentioned this, Jim, celebrate rites of passages. We in America haven't done as good of a job doing that. And I go all the way back to when I was in grad school in Princeton, New Jersey. I wrote a paper on celebrating rites of passages. And I couldn't find material that we Americans do, or we really did much in the church. Some mainline churches did confirmation, and what I found was, a lot of the kids didn't like it, okay. They had this, you know, in middle school or whatever.

But then I started looking at Jews. I started looking at other cultures and they were celebrating rites of passages. And so, my dream has been for years to help families really easily celebrate a rite of passage and learn different character traits more than even sometimes just a rite of passage. Learn more character traits than just, you know, simply a rite of passage.

But make something, you know, kind of a big deal. Celebrate it. We all do it, but we don't sometimes formalize it. And so, what my good friend, Jeremy Lee and I did, was we created something where once a year, families get together and they offer a child kind of a ceremony, give them a symbol, have an experience--more than what you were talkin' about Bible study earlier--an experience and you know, it's life-changing, and I'd been speaking at Jeremy's church, and I saw that he was already doing some of this with their middle school and high school. I was blown away by the power of the families having these experiences—

Jim D.: And what—

Jim B.: --with their kids.

Jim D.: --does that look like though? Is it around the birthday?

Jim B.: It can be around the birthday. It can be as the beginning of school starts. It can be at any time. But I actually, when we created this, we created it from kindergarten through 12th grade and one experience a year. And again, if you had a 10th grader, then start in 10th grade, you know—

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: --kind of thing. But we created these experiences more around things that we had been doing or we had been experiencing or we had been seeing. So, for example, invitation to generosity is kindergarten. So, how cool to teach your kindergartner to be generous.

We took Heidi, this is way before the book, but we took Heidi to Mexico. We were going on a mission trip. Today, Heidi has a heart for people who are poor and oppressed, and I think it's partly because when she was 5, you know, we took her down there, and you know, she saw, she smelled, she felt.

Jim D.: Uh-hm.

Jim B.: So, it's that kind of a thing.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: Jeremy's kindergartner wanted blankets in Nashville and so, they went and gave blankets to the homeless. So, it's more of an experience. And then as a family they did this. You know, second grade is a time when kids can start reading, so that's the good time to give 'em a Bible and have people around that are special to 'em write something on the Bible and then at a dinner, actually hand them a children's Bible with some of the verses and actually challenge them to begin the process, even if it's one sentence a day, of creating a habit of placing the Word of God in your life. And so, again, and it could be driver's license. It could be a manhood, womanhood ceremony, you know, when they're in 12th grade, things like that.

Jim D.: We had a different kind of driver's license experience (Laughter), Trent and I. So, on the day of his 15th birthday to go down and get his permit, it was also his birthday obviously. And Jean had planned a big party. (Laughing) And so, we were stuck at the DMV for like eight hours. It was unbelievable.

And of course, Trent wants to get the permit and Jean's callin' me going, "All the friends are here. How come you 're not here?" And I mean, that's not the kind of ceremony you're talkin' about, right?

Jim B.: Well, no, but you know what? (Laughter) I mean, the interesting side to it was, it shows how important it was to Trent. He's not willing; if you were doing something else, he wouldn't wait eight hours. He'd go be with his friends.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: So, you know, that's a huge thing. So, why don't we talk about responsibility and actually give Trent a driver's contract and kinda make that a big deal? And in a sense, you're saying, "We now trust you," as hard as that is and I totally understand how hard that is. But as hard as it is, you know, now we trust you with driving and here's some of the things we're gonna expect from you, but we're gonna cheer you on. And you know, those are the kinds of things that exactly that I'm talkin' about.

John: I really appreciated that part. There are a couple of things in the book that struck me. One is, this is not a formula; it's a template that I can take—

Jim B.: Yeah.

John: --and adapt, just opportunities along the way. But that driving contract, what I love about that, Jim, is you're telling the child, "This is one more step toward adulthood."

Jim B.: Yeah.

John: It's not just, you got your driver's license, but there's a contractual agreement here. You agree to these, you know, these rules. And they're not onerous rules; it's just expectations on the table, on paper. Life is full of those kinds of moments, and this is probably the first time a lot of kids are gonna see a document, and if you get 'em to sign it, then they're understanding, "Oh, that's my word; I gotta keep that."

Jim B.: Right, but you don't have to do it, see, in a negative way.

John: Right.

Jim B.: We tend to have those things like, "Here's the contract, and you know, sign it right now." Instead of saying, "We're celebrating with you and we're excited about it, and here's what we expect, and in many ways, you're believing in them. Part of celebrating a rite of passage is, is believing in your kids, believing with words, celebrating those rites of passages by blessing them. And so, you're kinda almost blessing them with a contract. Actually you're thrilled about the contract, because it does have, "You're not going to do this, you're not—

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: --going to do that." But it's more of a blessing to them, and so, it's the same thing, but with a blessing. We've gotta do more of that stuff.

Jim D.: That's so good, Jim, and so often, we're on them for stuff.

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: They're not doing things right and so, we correct; we correct; we correct.

Jim B.: Right.

Jim D.: And we're probably correcting 10 times with one affirmation. Do you have an idea in that regard, kinda that affirmation language versus the correction language—

Jim B.: Yeah.

Jim D.: --and be sure you're doing affirmation?

Jim B.: Well, we're gonna have to correct. I mean, that's part of how it is.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: Rules without relationship equal rebellion. And we have way too many parents who are too rigid and when you [are] a rigid parent, kids rebel. When you're a lenient parent, you don't give them any rules, well, then they're not gonna have a rudder, if you would.

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: So, you need both, but at the same time, I just find that you know, it's a withdrawal. Correction is a withdrawal. It's an important withdrawal, but you gotta put in more deposits. So, you know, they need a cheerleader. I have a sign in my office that actually a mutual friend of yours and mine, Jim, gave to me years ago. It's yellowed. And it said, "Every child needs someone who is irrationally positive about them." (Laughter)

And my daughter, who's 27, one of my daughters—I have three; no hormones or drama, of course, in our life—(Laughter) and she walks in and she looks at the sign, which I'd forgotten was even sittin' there, and she goes, "You're that person for me." Now there have been moments where I have really had to correct her. She's our one that needed extra correction and loving correction.

Jim D.: Yes, yes, it's good.

Jim B.: But she still looked at me as one of the people who was irrationally positive about them. So, it's a fine line as parents. We've gotta be able to do both, but that really takes some energy on our own part. We've gotta make sure we're taking care of our own soul. We've gotta make sure that we're feeling good about who we are, and we're taking time to know a strategy. Or we're gonna do it in anger; we're gonna do it in frustration, and we will. And when we do, we just have to, sometimes the best correction is to say, "Hey, I'm really sorry. That was all about me, and that wasn't about you."

Jim D.: Huh.

Jim B.: And then go right on.

Jim D.: No, that is really good. We've got a few minutes, let's talk some practical applications to this. So, you mentioned kindergarten. We started there with that celebration of generosity and the impact it had on your daughter, and how she still has a heart for that today. Move it to a little older framework. Let's go to maybe fifth, sixth, seventh grade.

Jim B.: Okay, well, let's go to the purity issue, because that's such a big deal today. You know, all of us as parents are so confused about, you know, the culture in terms of the culture in which our kids are living in.

And so, in middle school, we talk about the purity code. And we actually have a purity code weekend. So, we teach our kids, in honor of God, my family, my future spouse, I commit to sexual purity. And we actually have four Scriptures. You honor God with your body. You renew your mind for good, so we even try to help the parents help the kids understand that the greatest, you know, sex organ is not your private parts, it's your mind.

Another Scripture, "Turn your eyes from worthless things." That's Psalm 119. And then "Guard your heart." So, what we're really doing is trying to help kids learn to guard their heart, but also help parents teach their kids to guard their heart. So, we actually do this on a weekend. Usually it's a ceremony where it's an event. It's not a whole weekend.

But we actually want to challenge parents, take your kids away. Have that kind of conversation. There [are] great resources. HomeWord, where I work, has great resources. Others have wonderful resources on this today. We're so fortunate. I didn't have that as much with my kids even, you know, 15 years ago.

But we're saying, take them away. Have the conversation, so that you're the first person to have the conversation, rather than pornography, or whether than their friends. The No. 1 place they go is the Internet. Now this is a little tough, 'cause parents'll say, "This isn't my strength. My parents didn't talk to me."

Jim D.: Right, or they're very uneasy with it.

Jim B.: Sure, exactly. So, what we're tryin' to do is given them the tools. John, as you mentioned, the book, Pass It On, it's kind of more like a map, but they can pick and choose ideas and again, you're gonna personally tailor. I mean, we had this with our kids. Cathy took the girls away at age 11. And one engaged. One said with her fingers in her ear, "Mother, close this book right now. This is totally not appropriate." (Laughter) And Cathy goes, "What do I do?" And then—

Jim D.: That's it.

Jim B.: --the other one at 10 ½, because Cathy had taken 'em away, she'd bought an outfit and you know, we had this whole ceremony thing, [she] said, "You know, school's coming close, and I know it's, you know, gonna be my birthday. I really need a new outfit. Is there any way you could take me early? I know all this stuff, 'cause my sisters already told me about it."

Jim D.: (Chuckling) Right.

Jim B.: So, you know, we had this rite of passage for them, you know, when it came to sexuality. But you know what? They don't forget that.

Now at 16, I took 'em on their first date. And they could go anywhere--I live in Southern California—within a two-hour radius and one chose San Diego; one chose Palm Springs; one chose Hollywood, which is funny, because try to find cheap hotels at any of those places.

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: But you know, I bought 'em an outfit. We had the dinner, but then we talked about the purity code, you know, having more conversation about God, 'cause today I'm not convinced that kids can white knuckle it through their sexual purity issues.

We talked about family values, so they saw that this was important to our family. Way too many families, since they don't talk about it, they don't know that it's important. And I frankly didn't feel comfortable. I would've never talked to my parents about this, but that was because they never talked to me.

So, I think those kinds of rites of passages, at the ages that you talked about, and there's obviously great ones for each grade, I think. But that one is a very important one that I think can make a difference between people carrying baggage into their marriages and people, you know, having a marriage that is actually easier to do, because they didn't have as much baggage, because they made some really good decisions with their parents.

Jim D.: Yeah, speak to the parent who has that 10th, 11th grader. They've not done this. They've not thought about it, and that's okay. It's not a judgmental thing. What can they do to make up ground, or just start where they're at? What would you recommend?

Jim B.: Well, we suggest that they actually start where they're at, or they look through it. It's almost an encyclopedia type approach, where they can actually look and go, "Why don't we do this? You know, we've never given our kid a Bible. Why don't we give him a Bible? Let's write out things. It's gonna be very different for a second grader than it is for an 11th or a 10th grader. But you know, you could still do that—

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: --on a very meaningful way. Invite the youth pastor and invite people around who are meaningful in their life, spiritually. Now again, we say to do it at second grade, because it's the beginning of a rite of passage, but this is at any time.

As they get older, don't also expect them every time to go, "Wow! I'm lookin' forward to this." I mean, I went to a manhood ceremony a while back, where the kid kinda was rolling his eyes. His dad gave him a sword. It was really cool for us adults. We're like, whoa, this is great. This kid didn't get into it until they had the men start talking practically to this young man. And these men loved him greatly and all of a sudden, he had some tears, and it was a very moving experience.

But at the beginning I was going, "He's dyin' on this. He's glad that we're eating steak, and the sword is kinda weird to him. It is now in his bedroom hung up, because it meant something.

So, you know, take it as it goes. Every kid is gonna be different and start wherever. And even I find grandparents sometimes do this even better than--

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: --the parents, 'cause grandparents are really thinkin' about legacy. I mean, I've got this little James. He's 8 months. He's my one grandchild. This kid, every time I'm with him—

Jim D.: Yeah.

Jim B.: --I pray over him. I'm not sure that when I was changing my girls' diapers I was praying over them. I was—

Jim D.: Right.

Jim B.: --maybe holding my nose. But this kid, well, I am still holding my nose, but I'm also praying over him. So, grandparents can get in that act, too. And—

Jim D.: Well—

Jim B.: --they can get away with some of this a little better.

Jim D.: --well, I love that intentionality, too. I think as grandparents, you're more intentional, kinda know more about life and what's important.

Jim B.: Exactly.

Jim D.: Well, Jim, you have so many great ideas in Pass It On, the book, and I hope people will pick up a copy. Let me ask you about the couples that don't have children. What do they think about a legacy? Where do they go for passing on a legacy?

Jim B.: Yeah, well, we all have families and we all have people who we're close to. And legacy is important. You know, we have a phrase that says, one of the purposes of the church is to mentor parents. Parents mentor their children, and the legacy of faith continues to the next generation.

But I'll be honest, I mean, I have a youth pastor friend, who's now a retired pastor, 'cause he's at that age, who he influenced me. When I became a Christian, I wanted to marry somebody like his beautiful wife. I wanted to raise kids like he did. I wanted to have a faith like he did. So, I wasn't his child, but he mentored me--

Jim D.: The influence, yeah.

Jim B.: --in huge ways. And so, we're always mentoring somebody.

Jim D.: No, that is so good.

John: Well, be sure, regardless of where you're at in your parenting journey, or if you don't have kids, but you care deeply about that next generation, be sure to ask about Pass It On, by Jim Burns and Jeremy Lee,when you call us. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY. You can also find this and other resources at

And by the way, we so deeply appreciate your generosity to support Focus on the Family as we equip parents to raise thriving kids with a great faith in God. And if you can join our support team today or send along an extra gift, it'd make a great deal of impact and as a way of saying thanks, we'll send a complimentary copy of Jim's book to you for your reference or to pass along to someone else.

Jim D.: Hey, Jim, this has been such a good discussion. As a father with two teenage boys, many of these things I'm gonna apply in my own family. Thanks for bein' with us again.

Jim B.: Always a pleasure to be with you.


John: And our program was provided by Focus on the Family. And on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time for a look at the empty nest years. Are you ready for that?


Mrs. Michele Howe: When moms invest 20-some years doing one thing primarily, which is raising their kids, their heart, their soul, their energy, their focus is generally their family. And when that suddenly stops, there's grief.

End of Excerpt

John: We'll help you work through that grief and find new opportunities next time on "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly.

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Jim Burns

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Author, speaker and radio host Dr. Jim Burns is President of HomeWord and Executive Director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. His radio program is heard daily on over 800 stations, and he has more than 1.5 million resources in print in over 25 languages. Jim's books include Faith Conversations for Families, The Purity Code and Creating an intimate Marriage. He and his wife, Cathy, have three daughters and reside in Southern California.