Mom of 4 here proudly proclaiming the college graduation of “the baby!” Those of you who have been there know the feeling. I don’t say this with pride. I say it with relief. Whew! We got through it. Finally the last child will be “off the payroll” as their dad likes to loudly proclaim.
Graduation has become a huge thing in our society. When I was a kid all I heard of was high school graduation. After heading to college I realized there was a college graduation too. These landmark events have become so popular that we now have Kindergarten graduations, elementary graduations, junior high graduations, and who knows what other graduations I am blissfully unaware of. We do these to mark accomplishments and rites of passage into the next phase of life, a worthwhile thing to do.
But what about spiritual graduations? Not something we hear of unless we have a freind or relative studying for the ministry and headed toward a seminary graduation. Perhaps we should consider marking the spiritual milestones of development in a more concrete way?
Years ago I read a book called Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis. It made an impact on our household. The book embraced the idea of marking and celebrating those spiritual developmental mile markers in the lives of our children. While being focused on dad’s and sons, and describing the age-old customs of knights and pages and squires, the book offers insight that can be applied for parents of girls and for Christian mentoring situations as well.
Our family decided to embrace this idea of honoring important spiritual life events, and we chose to mark the age of 13 as an important developmental stage and the launching pad for our children to begin to develop their own spiritual disciplines and start on the road to spiritual adulthood. My husband and I thought through what we perceived as the building blocks of our Chrsitan lives and honed this down into a family creed so to speak. We completed the noble aspect of it all by designing a family crest, a family ring, and a celebration to launch each child as they turned 13 years old.
Here’s what we came up with. For you it could be something different.
The 4 corners of our Christian foundation we decided were: love, faith, purity, and God’s Word. (Those may not make sense for you – but they were very specific to the path God had led us on through our lives.) We chose symbols to represent these four pillars and used those symbols to make our family crest. We then chose 4 colors that represented these 4 traits, used those stones to design a family ring, and found a jeweler who would make what we wanted. In our research to determine our 4 prime characteristics we wanted to see in our kids and in our own lives, we had uncovered many scriptures. We typed these up in a document. At each child’s 13th birthday we held a celebration – a dinner out or a friend group and dinner at home – and gave each child their ring, their family crest, the document of scriptures, a challenge by Mom & Dad, and a prayer over them that they would grow in Godliness.
Love – We chose love because we realized that God is love, we love because He first loved us, and loving God and loving others are the 2 great commandments of the New Testament. We understood that we were to love others as we loved ourselves.
Faith – Scripture reminded us that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) We desired for our family and each child individually to be God-pleasers. We knew that salvation is by faith and we longed for each child to come to Christ and live their life with Him as their Savior and Lord.
Purity – Matthew 5:8 says blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Old Testament scripture reminds us that obedience to God to live His way is better than sacrifice. (1 Samuel 15:22) Our parental desire was to have children seeking to live a pure life that flows from a heart so in love with God that it wants nothing else.
God’s Word – This last one is not a personal characteristic I know, but it is THE key to growing in Christ and developing His character. Early on in our Christian walk both my husband and I had been discipled/mentored in a very methodical way. We had been taught to dig into God’s Word and apply it to our lives. We knew this was a must for raising the next generation to be sold out for Christ. Hebrews 4:12 and 2 Timothy 3:16 speak to the power of the holy scriptures to work change in our lives.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16
So what is my point today? To challenge you to think. Think about ways you can acknowledge and celebrate spiritual milestones with family, kids, and friends. The Old Testament is full of celebrations that God instituted for Israel to keep for all generations. These celebrations reminded them of their spiritual heritage, the faithfulness of God, and their purpose on this earth. Let us give our kids the gift of “graduation” celebrations as they develop in their Christian walk and in life.