Many Christian young people today entertain the notion that they can begin where Dad left off. This, in their opinion, applies to the kind of job they want, the sort of house in which they expect to live, the type of car they hope to drive, and sometimes even to the place they want to begin in their spiritual lives.
It can't be done that way.
While in every area possible, Christian parents should leave a heritage for their children's advantage (Prov. 13:22), that heritage, wrongly understood, appreciated, or handled, can be turned into a curse rather than a blessing. If the child has the idea that he can dispense with the struggles his parents experienced, in finding his place in life before God and the world, as so many do, he is greatly mistaken. Parents can guide him around some of the pitfalls they encountered; if he is willing to listen, they can share much of the wisdom they have learned, often the hard way; they can start him out in life with more resources, financially and otherwise; but they cannot bequeath to him the pattern of living they developed over a period of time through their commitment to Christ and their own efforts. They can explain those patterns, set an example for him to follow, and urge him to walk in these ways, and they can attempt to discipline him in some of them. But patterns of resourcefulness, hard work, creativity, etc., are not like money which can be handed over to another in a moment; they all involve the efforts of the child himself, and his personal relationship to Christ. When so much has been given to a child, it is possible for him to think he can dispense with those patterns. He reasons that he can be like dad or mom without much effort. But the truth is, he will discover sooner or later, there are some things that simply can't be inherited.
The principle set forth in Matthew 25:21 and its corollary in verse 29 are pertinent to the problem I have raised. There the lazy steward (and every child is a steward of all his parents leave for him in both tangible and intangible things) contrasts with the two working stewards. Notice what is said to each. The two faithful stewards, who cared about using what was entrusted to them to the full benefit of their master, gained more. To them the Lord says, "Well done." But there is more. He goes on to say, "You have been faithful over a little. I will appoint you over much." This is the law of stewardship: One must begin with little, and when the Lord sees that he has been faithful and diligent in handling little, He will advance him to be entrusted with much. Children who have received much from their parents, and have not first proved faithful in the stewardship of a few things, will be unable to handle much.
But that isn't all. In verses 28, 29 we read that the Lord took away the talent the lazy steward had preserved but had not used for the benefit of his Lord, saying, "To everybody who has much, more will be given, but from everybody who doesn't have anything, even what he has will be taken away." In other words, He is saying, "If you didn't use the little that was entrusted to you, then don't expect Me to give you more; indeed, I shall take away even that little you had and give it to someone who has proved faithful with what I have given him. How often we see valuable legacies of either a tangible or an intangible nature quickly disappear from the lives of those who neglect them. You cannot keep what you do not use for the Lord. And that begins by the life of faithfulness in little things. God looks to entrust His greater riches to those who are faithful in the little things. So, parent or child, from both viewpoints, it is important to understand the laws of stewardship. One thing is required of a steward — faithfulness!