So what IS the secret to raising a child who will change the world…rather than raising a child that the world will change into a mottled, faithless follower of foolishness?
Let me just give a caveat here and say that my oldest is 20, and even though I have a quiver full of kids that are pretty sharp arrows, no one has won the Nobel Peace Prize (yet) and so far not one of them has been elected to higher office.
But I know these two guys who were both world leaders and changers…men who shaped the policies of their day and one who saved the entire known world at the time.
Before being sold off into slavery (Joseph) at age 17 by his band of hateful jealous brothers and before being dragged off into an ungodly empire (Daniel, likely around age 13) these two boys were taught something by their parents, believed something down deep in their souls that sustained them and brought them into prominence as leaders above every other individual in their kingdoms.
Both Joseph and Daniel KNEW God was with them and that they could expect His favor.
Sounds too simple, right? Too easy? We all know God is omniscient. We know He is with us. Duh.
But He is WITH YOU. With you…like, holding your hand all the time, like agreeing with you, like…FOR YOU…you are the apple of His eye…the most precious thing He has ever seen…favored and crowned with the righteousness of Christ.
And this should make you BOLD as a lion. Yes, you will mess up. You will sin. You will falter and stumble and at times make a total fool of yourself. Never you mind. You are favored. Loved beyond compare with all your warts and stupidity.
And you and your children need to be reminded of this daily. It never gets old. It is a necessary weapon against the voices in our head that tell us we are naughty, evil, wrong, fat, dumb, unable, incapable and have missed our chance. Lemme give you a recent example…
One of my little boys was recently caught in a bold faced lie. Now, we have been working on this with him for a while. He gets better and better at truthfulness and our spans between spells of dishonesty are getting longer, so there is progress. But on this one occasion, he lied and it wound up with a sister catching crap because she was accused for his yahoo-ness. Yikes. Big trouble in little River City.
So he got his consequence. And afterwards we hugged and prayed and he asked God to forgive him and asked his sister too. I was all ready to move on but the Holy Spirit whispered for me to look into his eyes. So I did. And I could sense that he was still ticked. His eyes were still narrowed and his body posture was stiff. So I asked him what was the matter?
Now for a eight-year-old, this little guy is very articulate. We have always taught them the importance of communicating their emotions effectively…not shooting off at the mouth but allowing them to discuss what is bothering them. He looks me dead in the eye and says, “I am still mad.”
I asked him why. He was able to tell me that he was still mad AT HIMSELF for lying. He was frustrated because he had really been doing well at telling the truth.
I scooped him up. First I explained that no matter what in his life, his mother, father, and siblings would love him madly. I told him to stop being mad at himself for something we had all forgiven him for, and to stop holding over himself something God doesn’t even remember he did. (“I will remember their sins no more…”Hebrews 8:12, 10:17)
I then explained that I knew he would grow up to be a trustworthy, truthful man who taught truth to the masses as a preacher of God’s Word. I told him that he was favored and loved because Christ paid for that sin long before he ever committed it so absolutely no worries and MOVE ON. “Don’t continue slaying YOURSELF over something JESUS already died for.”
And he smiled.
Weight off his shoulder removed.
Freedom accepted. And he trotted off happy and KNOWING he was favored and loved beyond compare.
Folks, that’s how you build a world changer. Because if you’re gonna change the world, and do life BIG, you’re bound to make some BIG mistakes. But if you let those mistakes, sins, and wrong doings slow you down or trip you up, you will stop being effective and useful. So use every opportunity to remind your children that they are favored and loved NOT BECAUSE OF THEIR GOODNESS, but because of WHOSE they are. That this love can never be lost or diminished. To be bold (not prideful or self-confident, big difference) in spite of sins, failings, and mistakes. And watch them rise above their shortcomings and do great things.
A child, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are loved and favored…will grow into a giant of a world changer. Just ask Joseph and Daniel. Two men who, despite horrific life turns, walked in boldness believing in His favor and love. And another funny little thing about the two of them…the Word never mentions any sins or faltering in their lives. Not that they were sinless, or just committed “small” sins…but because they focused on God’s favor, grace, and presence the Lord never mentions their sins. Just another little tidbit for ya.
Go on and practice that…for yourself and with your children, reminding one another of His forgetting your sins, and that you are favored and adored by the Creator. And watch that grow boldness into the hearts of your children. They will change the world.
Photography courtesy of Brian Schindler