This week our nation is mourning the loss of former Secretary of State Colin Powell. As often happens when a celebrity dies, social media has been flooded with posts highlighting information about his personal life, his accolades, his contributions to our society, and personal quotes. I would like to share one of those quotes with you. Mr. Powell is famously quoted as saying that, “All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop. Moms, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas. Aunts, Uncles – someone to hold them, read to them, teach them. Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals and knowledge of a hundred previous generations. Loved ones who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.”

I absolutely love this quote! It reminds me of a quote from one of President Ronald Reagan’s speeches in 1967, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” While president Reagan was speaking of political, economic, and social liberty, there is a spiritual application behind this concept. It only takes one generation to forget, or reject, the spiritual principles and ideals that were important to the previous generation. The same concept is famously recorded in one of the most well-known Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. It reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 ESV). It’s possible that president Reagan (who himself was a baptized member of the Disciples of Christ) borrowed this biblical concept and applied it to his political views on government and the American way.

The late Colin Powell and president Reagan both understood the significance roles that parents play in the adolescent development of their children. Countless studies have indicated that parental involvement (or the lack thereof) effects the emotional and psychological development of their children. I believe that we can take this concept one step further. Children have a desperate spiritual need to be discipled to and invested in by the current generation of Christians.

There’s a reason that God instructed Israel to build a monument after they crossed the Jordan River in Joshua 4. He knew that unless they were taught by their fathers, the next generation of Israelites would forget how they came into the promised land in the first place! In Moses’ final speech to Israel before his death on Mount Nebo, he emphasized the spiritual responsibility that parents have to their children. He said, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:6-8). It’s been said that society is always one generation away from apostasy. Christians, we have a job to do. We have been called to disciple the next generation. All children need a laptop.

In Christ,
Jonathan Anderson