Then & Now - Week of September 1

"You Can Be Different Than Your Parents"
1 Samuel 18:1

A few years ago I heard a popular youth “expert” on Christian radio. He said something that almost made me drive off the road.

“Young people can’t achieve great things for God until they confess all of the sins of their parents.”

Ouch. I thought about that for a while. The fact is there are some teens who don’t even know who their parents are.

His advice was dead wrong, but it tracks with what some teach that sins are “generational” and pass down from father to son, etc. Let’s confront that bad teaching right here, right now.

First of all, yes, we do all inherit a sin nature from our parents.

And yes, unchecked sin can be repeated from generation to generation.

But here’s the kicker. Those sinful patterns don’t have to be repeated. In other words, you as a young person have a choice as to the life you’re going to live. Maybe you’ve come from a pretty messed up home. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re shackled with the same unavoidable choices.

How do I know? Look at Jonathan. His Dad, King Saul, was a jerk. He thumbed his nose at God and was a wimpy warrior. That’s why God took the kingdom away from Saul and gave it to David, the courageous shepherd boy.

Jonathan could have been just like his dad. But he chose a different life. A life marked by courage in battle, loyalty to David, his friend and God’s man. Sacrifice and humility were hallmarks of Jonathan’s life. He willingly stepped aside as prince and honored God’s anointing of David as Israel’s next king.

Friends, you have a choice. I don’t care where you are from or what you’re parents are doing. You may have great parents who love God. Awesome—but remember that their faith won’t automatically trickle down to you. You have to choose, on your own, to follow god.

You may have parents who don’t do church, don’t read their Bible, and mock your Christian faith. Maybe this discourages you. I want to let you know that God sees you and has a dramatic plan for your life.


  • Can God use me despite of my family background? 
  • How can my life beam God’s love into my family? 
  • Have I made family excuses for my lack of faith? 

Daniel Darling is an author and pastor with a passion for young people. He is the author of Teen People of the Bible, a 100-day devotional for teens. Visit him at