Written by on October 5, 2017 at 11:51 am

I’m told by a five-year-old that a grandfather is a man grandmother. Indeed. According to recent research the number one influence in an American teenager’s life is his peers. And the number two biggest influence is his grandparents.

I am learning to take grandparenting seriously. The scripture commands, “You shall teach these things to your children and your children’s children.” I am trying with intentionality to do just that.  Spend time. Teach. Influence.

Last month I had to be in Washington for a week so I took our daughter’s 13-year old with me. Henry is his name. Bright. Inquisitive. A veritable sponge to soak up the Word. For five days Henry and I set out on foot in our capital to explore, eat, laugh, and discuss. From the Jefferson Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and World War II memorials, we trekked. We ate lunch in the Willard Hotel where U. S. Grant, Abe Lincoln, Charles Dickens, and Emily Dickinson dined. We marveled at the Hope diamond, a whale skeleton, and more at the Smithsonian museums. We saw the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I showed him the impressionist paintings of Monet, and my favorite sculpted work of art. We toured the Capitol building, saw a Gutenberg Bible in the Library of Congress.

In all, we walked over 22 miles in five days and had long rambling conversations about history, racism, heroes, art, creationism and evolution, politics, man’s nature, hope and Jesus Christ.

I showed him the depravity of man in the Holocaust Museum, and the glory of mankind in architecture, government of law, and art.

It was a week I will never forget. I doubt Henry will, either.

If you take a lump of clay and grind it into a pile of sand, later, no matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to pick all the grains of sand out of the clay. Same with a grandfather’s influence on an impressionable grandson.

So, be about your job, grandpa. Grandparenting is probably the last great thing you’ll ever get to do on earth.

About the authors: Stephen and Bryan Crotts are father and son, both ministers. These editorials are jointly conceived, researched, and written. Bryan is pastor of First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Burlington. He can be reached at Stephen is a campus minister with the Carolina Study Center. He can be reached at

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