I find that I am thinking about things differently since the birth of our first grandchild. Our grandson Austin is doing well, growing rapidly, and shaping our hearts and minds.

Here is what I have noticed: I now have a “grandparent filter” in my thinking. In the midst of discussions that are not directly related to children or grandchildren I find that I start wondering, “What impact will this have on my grandson and future generations?” At such times, I have to work to avoid the urge to get out photos of Austin and pass them around – lest I become an “annoying grandparent” (some would say that I already am an annoying grandparent). In fact, my new “grandparent filter” is really not about Austin, it is about all children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Here is what I mean: I find that all issues now come with an additional concern on my part, namely questions like, “Will this help our children have faith?” or “Will this leave more financial burden on future generations?” or “What kind of church am I leaving for Austin and other children born this year?”

See what I mean? I would like to think that I have always cared about children, grandchildren, and future generations. But now those “future generations” have a face – the face of my beautiful grandson Austin. Now those discussions about the legacy we adults are leaving for the future have become so much more real and personal. Now when we talk about those issues, I picture Austin as I ask, “How will this impact those children and grandchildren and future generations like my grandson?”

I have a “grandparent filter” in my head and my heart. I am glad for it, even if it does challenge me and make my ministry decisions even more difficult.

I wonder: would our church committees, conference agencies, and the Annual Conference itself make better decisions if we had pictures of children in front of us for those decisions? Would it make a difference if every discussion, every decision, and every ministry plan would take place in the context of concern about children? I think so.

Jesus welcomed the little children. We can do no less, and my “grandparent filter” helps me to remember.