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Larry Fowler & Tim Kimmel: Leaving a Legacy that Matters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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September 19, 2022 8:00 pm

Larry Fowler & Tim Kimmel: Leaving a Legacy that Matters

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 19, 2022 8:00 pm

Could your grandparenting alter generations to come? Authors Larry Fowler & Tim Kimmel explore the whys and hows of leaving a legacy.

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Order Larry's book: Overcoming Grandparenting BarriersĀ 

Grace Based Families: Find out more ways you can educate yourself as a grandparent.

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Okay, what would you say is the greatest thing about being a grandparent?

Everything. It's amazing. There's also something about it, like you, with a parent, you feel like you're continually thinking through, what am I trying to do here?

I want to protect them. I have felt a little more fear-based and I was a little more exhausted and there was so much going on, but I feel a little bit more of a freedom just to love extravagantly with our grandkids. Yeah, and I gotta say, you are the greatest grandmother. You are incredible. You're a really good puppy too.

I am a loser compared to you. No you're not, you're amazing. I'm just saying, watching you come alive, it is a joy with our six grandkids.

It's awesome. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson and I'm Dave Wilson and you can find us at or on the Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. We're gonna talk about grandparenting today.

We got Dr. Tim Kimmel, Larry Fowler in the Family Life Today studio to talk about being grandparents. Welcome guys. Glad to be here.

Good to be here. Now how do you two guys connect to one another in terms of what you're doing? Tim wrote a book about grandparenting in, what, about 2007? Tim?

Something like that. I lead a ministry called Legacy Coalition and Tim has been a close friend of our ministry and a cheerleader and an encourager and a speaker at our conferences, so he's been right there with us on this journey of trying to equip Christian grandparents to be more intentional in passing on their faith to the grandkids. It's funny, I was doing a, speaking at a conference for, I think, children's workers down in Chattanooga and this guy came up to me and said, hey, could you have lunch?

Sure. And he said that he just really has a burden. He and his wife just, God's been tugging on their heart and he said, you know, here's the only tool that is out there and I wanted to see if you'd be willing to get together, me and some other people, and just talk about maybe there's something more substantive could be done for the church, because the observation my wife and I had is that basically the church wasn't weighing in on this.

That's not a put-down or what, you know, what's wrong with everybody, it just, just the way it was. But I think the demand on grandparenting has gone way up. The need for sages and matriarchs and patriarchs, the wisdom hunters of life that are now, you know, coming into the fourth quarter of their life and actually have something to offer. And yet, Tim, I feel like, and Larry you know this too, we're not tapping in on that in the church, because as people, as we get older, we think, oh, I guess I've raised my kids, I've done my thing, now what?

And you're saying, oh, there's a lot more, and you're saying grandparents are starting to engage more than ever? Well, and I remember that lunch too. In fact, I've always looked up to Tim and respected him. We all do.

Yeah. This was just an idea that was forming in, in my mind. I didn't know even at the time that God was really putting a new calling on my life and on my wife's life. I wanted to find somebody that I could talk to about this issue of grandparenting, and frankly, there wasn't hardly anybody else that I could find in ministry in the church, Big C, that had a focus on it.

But Tim was the guy, and he was very encouraging that day to me. Where did that start, that rumbling, that restlessness about grandparenting? Well, it was first very personal. The ministry passion came a lot later, and it started for me, of course, with the birth of my first grandson. So my first grandson was born on my birthday. That's kind of cool.

Really? And you have two kids and seven grandkids. I have two kids and seven grandkids.

Well, my daughter, who has four, her marriage failed after a few years. And that first grandson and two siblings at that time came to live with us. I had a son-in-law that had made some awful decisions, and my daughter had had all she could take.

I'd had all I could take. And so they came and lived with us, and I, one, began to step it up in my role as a grandfather, because I knew those little boys needed a godly male role model, and I didn't want them to follow in the sins of their father. And so that was the beginning of me beginning to be more intentional as a grandfather, but I couldn't have put that language to it at that time.

And then in 2012, I did a study. We were working with the Awana ministry, and I did a study of the scripture passages that talk about generation to generation, and nothing happened with the study except God used it in my own heart. And one particular verse doesn't say generation to generation, but it just absolutely turned my world upside down was Deuteronomy 4.9, the last phrase of it that says, teach your children and your children's children. And the and got me, Dave and Ann, because I never saw that from the biblical perspective I had a two generation responsibility, not just as a parent. I knew that I had a responsibility as a parent, but I saw with new eyes that I had a biblical responsibility as a grandparent.

So that, for me, was a real turning point as God revealed that to me through Scripture. You know, Darcy likes to say that one reason why we like being grandparents is we observed this, and then we found out why, that grandparents seem to get along so much better with their grandkids than those kids get along with their actual parents. And then after we became grandparents, we realized why, because grandparents and grandchildren both share a common source of annoyance. And she likes to say, grandkids are God's gift for us not selling our kids on Craigslist.

You know, this is what you get. But you talked about how much you adore that, and the stress is off. Well, the stress is off you.

Now, let's qualify. There's a couple million grandparents out there that are actually, like you, raising their grandchildren. But for the most of them, the tens of millions that aren't, we don't carry the day-to-day stress. Plus, I like to look at a grandparent. For the golfers out there, they'll probably know what I'm talking about. It's like playing a mulligan. You know, because, you know, let's say you hit one out of bounds, and the guys say, hey, tee up, and we won't count that one. Well, that's what we did with a lot of our kids. We didn't know what we were doing. We knocked one in the woods, the other one in the lake. But you become a grandparent.

I can actually hit this one down the middle pretty well. And it's just a great chance to have a second chance. Tim, you guys have four kids. You've been married 50 years. How many grandkids? Ten grandkids.

Ten grandkids. Yeah. And growing, right? Yeah. Still more coming? Yes.

We'll probably get one or two more before it's over. But the youngest is three months, the oldest is 20 years old. Wow. And so to see them now to take on life and to watch our kids raise them and try and be that lighthouse for those grandkids has just been a fun journey. By the way, it's not without his heartache. Right.

It's not without his setbacks. Well, it's interesting, Larry, when you said earlier, Deuteronomy 4-9, for your children and their children, I don't know if you guys remember this song. This was not planned.

It may not end up staying. Here we go. It's one of our favorite songs, actually. The first time I heard this song, which became a big worship song during the pandemic.

You know what we're thinking, Larry? Lord bless you and keep you. I remember hearing that song and thinking, oh, that's number six, I think, or I'm just sure exactly what the, but it's a, you know, it's a blessing. But then when Kerry Jove, who sang it, went to the bridge, I teared up at this line. You know, it's, and may your favor be upon you for a thousand generations and your family and your children and their children and their children and your favorite. When I heard your family and your children, I'm like, oh, that's nice.

And then their children and their children, I teared up. Because it's legacy. It's, you know, I got a chance to change the legacy of two alcoholic parents and adultery and just divorce. And, you know, legacy for me was like, I get a chance with God's power to change the Wilson future. That's why I heard that line.

You know, you envision grandkids. It's not just that song. I agree with you.

I just, I couldn't talk for a while after the first time I heard that song. But it's also what Scripture says. You know, in Psalm 78, and there are several other places, too, where there are four generations that are mentioned.

And in Psalm 78, it's about passing on the stories of God at work. And I believe that's the vision that grandparents are going to have. You know, we are to not just care about our grandchildren. We're to care about our grandchildren's grandchildren. And so, you know, that's something that I think about a lot as a grandfather. What am I going to do so that my grandkids will be the same kind of grandparents when they get to this age?

You know, I want to impact all the way out four generations is the way that we have to. In Psalm 71, there's this two verses that we've considered as kind of the best theme verses we've ever read on grandparenting. And before I read it, the context is good. What's interesting is Psalm 71 is not ID'd as to who wrote it. But you'll find that there are segments of several of David's Psalms in Psalm 71. So the assumption is this is an edited version of several of his Psalms put together to make one extend his Psalms. So David is most likely the author of this, and he's writing this in his twilight years. A man who looked back and made several mistakes along the way with his family.

Here's what he said, Since my youth, O God, you've taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. And even when I'm old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come. When I think of that, and I realize that to do that I cannot take on the title of grandparent and not take on a role. You get to be a grandparent just by simply all you have to do is have your kids have kids, and you get the title. But that doesn't necessarily make you a grandparent. You have to be deliberate about that, and the deliberateness isn't necessarily a ton of work. There's a ton of joy attached to it, but it's also really driven by purpose.

Let's talk about that. What does that mean, and how can we be deliberate and do this thing purposefully? Well, we use the phrase all the time, intentional Christian grandparents, and it's the same thing.

It doesn't mean perfect. Anybody can be intentional or purposeful in their grandparenting, but it really comes down to very, very practical things, like if your grandkids live at a distance, what are you going to do to connect with them? Stay connected. If they come over to see you every day, are you going to play with them, or are you going to be thinking, what can I do today? What can I say today to bless them, to teach them, to remind them about who God is? And that's what changed so much for my wife and I, was that now we watch young grandkids every weekday for a few hours.

And you're saying you're intentional. Yeah, so when they're coming over, we're thinking, what might we do today? What might we say today? And that's a transformation that grandparents will undergo as they begin to realize that they have a responsibility before God to be more than just the fun grandparent that spoils them and goes to their activities and helps take care of them. But there's more to grandparenting from a biblical perspective than that.

You know, when Darcy and I, we were observing this for a long time. Like I said, we didn't feel like we could say anything until we were grandparents ourselves. But when we wrote the book Extreme Grandparenting, one of the things we did in there is we unpacked four very clearly articulated biblical roles the grandparents have. And Larry was alluding to them.

First one is giving a blessing, being blessing givers. And I think one of the ways you do that is you keep in mind that every one of your grandchildren have three driving inner needs that are going to be met either in a legitimate or an illegitimate way. They need to know they're secure. They need to know they're significant. They need to know they're strong or sufficient for the moment. And so we can meet those through the power of God's grace and giving them a secure love, a significant purpose, a stronghold, voicing those.

I think another key role is setting a standard. When we first got a GPS, it was in a rental car, and Darcy cranked up, read the instruction, figured out how to work the GPS thing to figure out where we were. Well I did some research on it, and it takes at least two satellites.

But the more accurate it is, is three or four. You pinpoint right where you are. Well satellite is up where they can see where you're going from where they are.

So we can be a satellite for them. And then a third thing is bearing a torch. You know a good example would be like the Olympic torch. You know it starts on Mount Olympus, but it's transferred all across the continents from one hand to another.

They're just handing it down. And that's like the generations that are handing down this torch. But I've never carried the Olympic torch. But one thing, if I ever had the honor of carrying it, the one thing I'd be thinking all the time, whatever you do, don't let this thing go out.

And we can tear a torch of the gospel. And then the fourth role that once again Larry has talked to is leaving a legacy. And see once again, if not if you're going to leave a legacy. That's a foregone conclusion.

It's what kind. Right. And I like to think we have a chance as Christian grandparents to leave a legacy that never dies. It says in Exodus, you know, in the Ten Commandments, the sins of the Father return to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. But then it goes, he revisits that in Deuteronomy chapter 7, and he talks about the sins of the Father return to the third and fourth generation. But my righteousness returns to thousands of generations, those who love me and keep my command. So there's a shelf life of our folly, but there's a half-life of our righteousness for God that just never ends. Look, I think those who are resonating with the the spiritual dialogue we have going on here, you may think that you can't, you're a first-generation Christian. I'll bet you when we get to heaven you find out you're not.

Yeah. There was some grandparent, great-grandparents, somebody maybe even a hundred, two hundred years ago, and God's honoring his commitment to keep that light going through you. And I would add too, Tim, I talked to so many grandparents that feel like they have failed as parents. They feel like they've messed up, and so they feel like they're not qualified to be a good grandparent. And I usually say, isn't it so good that God gives us second chances?

Yes, it is a mulligan. And we can still be great grandparents because we've learned a lot through our mistakes, and it isn't so sweet of Jesus to say, it's not over. I can redeem, I can change, and you can, I can use you to help transform those grandkids. And I wonder, you know, Larry, you mentioned a term, and I've seen it all through your material, intentional Christian grandparenting.

So many of us, even Christian grandparents, aren't intentional. We're just babysitting. We love our time with our grandkids. We're excited to have them. We will be there for them.

But it's not intentional for a lot of us. It's just, oh, I'm just loving them, stay at my house. But the intentionality of passing on our faith to the next generation, generation after generation, how does a Christian grandparent get to that intentionality? Well, I think it's beginning to really understand what Scripture has to say about their role. I mean, that's a good place to start.

Let me go down a different path for just a second, and I'll come back to that. We did some research at the beginning about how many grandparents have ever heard a sermon or attended a class or read a book on grandparenting. And even though Tim's had a book out there, a very good book for quite a long time, we found that only 1% of Christian grandparents had ever done any one of those three. So what that means is that the only voices that are speaking into the ears of grandparents are the cultural voices. And the cultural voice says you're a good grandparent if you do the things that you just mentioned, Dave. Grandparents think they're being a good grandparent, and they need to understand that God has a higher bar.

And the higher bar is to be intentional. And again, it doesn't mean being perfect. There are no perfect families, are there?

None whatsoever. So we need to just help grandparents to get a vision for God still has this really important plan for your life. The last years, the last decades of your life can be filled with the greatest purpose that you've ever had in your life, but it's going to be focused on family and on future generations in your family, passing on faith to them. And so it starts with just getting that vision.

Then comes the equipping afterwards. Yeah, but you know something I think we ought to throw in here, too, to keep reality and center stage on this thing is that one of the greatest joys you can have is becoming a grandparent, but also you've put yourself in a position where your heart can be crushed like never before. And there's drama and dynamics that oftentimes find themselves center stage.

And what I appreciate about what Legacy Coalition has done is they're addressing these kind of things. In the book we wrote on the extreme grandparent, we spent a whole half of the book talking about things like, what if your kids go through a divorce? What if your grandkids have to come live with you? What if your children don't want you talking about Jesus to their kids?

What about long-distance grandparenting? What about spoiling? There's a right way to do this. There's a toxic way to do this. How do you balance that out?

How do you handle the whole money thing? The downside of love is that you make a commitment to love somebody. You can get your heart broken.

You can get crushed. But Legacy Coalition has done a great job, and they bring in people to address these things, to equip us to say, okay, what if your kids are going through a divorce? Guess who's paying the biggest price in that one? It's those grandkids. What makes such a big difference is if your grandparents are involved in that grandchildren's life, and they're not down, and they're staying hopeful, and they say, look, your immediate world looks like it's coming apart, but your greater world's still very much intact. We're part of that. We'll get beyond this thing.

But there's so many things like that that you can't do by accident. Well, Tim, you mentioned Legacy Coalition. I don't think we've even told our listeners what is that.

So help us understand what that is. Well, we started this ministry six years ago, and we wanted to have a national focus on the role of Christian grandparents, to encourage them, as we already said, to be intentional. And so we started this ministry, and God has just been growing it and exploding it. We started in 2016, and the very first year we wanted to create some resources for grandparents. So we created four, and with four, get this, with four resources, we were the largest source of Christian grandparenting resources on the Internet. And so we've been working at creating resources. We do a national conference on Christian grandparenting that Tim's going to be at in October, and we have podcasts and webinars and a growing staff, and we're just real thankful for the way God's blessing our ministry. I sure am glad, because, you know, when you think that if you're the biggest voice and you only have four resources, that just shows how huge this need has been. But they are filling that gap, and I do think parents today are carrying some very sophisticated issues and struggles.

Oh yeah. And Tim, share about your ministry, too, that you and Darcy started, because these two ministries, and with family life, too, we all have that same goal of, we want families, we want to equip them, we want to point them to Jesus, but we are in it together. Yeah, the primary focus of our ministry is called grace-based families, and we want to see families equipped with God's grace in such a way that it makes them instruments of restoration and reformation in their lives and the people around them. That's what we've been spending our time on, showing how to become families, parents, grandparents, husband, wives that are guided by God's truth, all the while tempered by his grace.

Well, when you take that with family life and the weekend to Remembers and then Legacy Coalition, we're all trying to do the same thing, is help people turn Jesus' heart into the way they deal with each other. One thing that happens is that when our kids get married, they bring somebody else into the situation that it could be a great asset or unbelievable liability. Well, if you don't have grace walking into that situation, it can turn on you fast. You know, one of the ways that if we don't handle our role as a grandparent right, that's one of the ways they can punish us.

They can block you. Yeah. Well, and we'll have links to all these ministries in the Legacy Conference as well. Well, I thought it'd be good to end, as Larry and I were talking before we started our interview, he was just sharing nonchalantly something he does with his number seven is perfect, but he prays. Larry, share what you do with each of your kids, how you pray for each of those grandkids. You're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Larry Fowler and Tim Kimmel on Family Life Today.

We'll hear how Larry prays for his grandkids and what we can learn from his example in just a minute. But first, be sure to find out more about the Legacy Grandparenting Summit that's coming up October 21st and 22nd in Jacksonville, Florida. You can go to to learn more and if Jacksonville is too far for you, you can find one of the more than 100 locations they'll be live streaming the event. Again, go to for all the details and while you're there, you can also get Larry Fowler's ebook called Overcoming Grandparent Barriers. Now, today's conversation about godly grandparenting is all about legacy.

What kind of legacy are you leaving? At Family Life, we're passionate about helping families leave a godly legacy through the power of the gospel. So when you partner financially with Family Life, you're helping not just families today, but families generations from now. If that's exciting to you, I want to ask you to partner financially with us and as our thanks, when you give today, we'll send you a copy of Michael and Melissa Krueger's book, Five Things to Pray for Your Spouse. You can get your copy when you give at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Alright, now here's Larry Fowler and how he prays for each of his grandkids.

It's one way that we practice intentionality. Because we have seven grandkids, each one of them has a day of the week and we pray specifically for one grandchild on each day of the week. And so we don't have Monday, we have Natalia day.

We don't have Tuesday, we have Tyler day and so forth. But we not only remember to pray for them that day, they know what their day is. And we ask them for prayer requests and then we try to communicate to them what we're praying, so that it's not just an activity of praying for them, but it's engaging them as much as possible in the process. We have some good friends that have, because they also have seven grandkids, have gotten seven coffee mugs with the pictures of their grandkids on the coffee mugs. So then they have a visual reminder to pray for them as well.

That's the kind of thing that we do to be intentional. Yeah, we've got six so I know what we're doing. Well then you then you pray for the parents on the seventh day. Tomorrow, Devan A. Wilson will be joined again by Larry Fowler and Tim Kimmel to talk about how to have the biggest impact in your grandchildren's lives, leaving a good legacy. That's tomorrow. On behalf of Devan A. Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-16 12:44:53 / 2023-01-16 12:55:38 / 11

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