by Gina Gardner, Steppes of Faith
“This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17 NKJ
I was driving down the highway on my way to an appointment this week when the incredible Pastor Louie Giglio came on the radio. He was in town promoting his new book, Goliath Must Fall, on one of our local Christian radio stations. He was mainly talking about facing fear in general, but then he changed the subject slightly and talked about kids.
Pastor Giglio went on to talk about how parents can help their kids face their fears simply by loving them and knowing they are accepted. Like all good pastors, he got me thinking and asking myself, Do I love my boys from a place of acceptance? I love them like crazy, of course! But do I accept them as is? If I do, do they know that?
I think these are good questions every parent should ask. Despite our love, it’s often far too easy to point out the things our kids are doing wrong. We’re well intentioned, naturally. We want to teach them what not to do. But, are we teaching what they can do? Are we telling them we believe in them?
My oldest son is naturally a shy kid. As much as my husband and I try to encourage him to step out of his comfort zone, like ride a (small) roller coaster or go camping or even call a friend on the phone, he’s happiest when he’s at home with a book. He’s just that kind of a guy. But there’s coming a time when he’s going to have to let go of the apron string that’s starting to stretch too thin.
I know my son is very smart, kind, and funny. He’s a really great kid who can do a lot of amazing things…if he would try. So, I decided a while ago that I would try to build his sense of security and make an effort to show him more love, not just with hugs and kisses, but also by affirming him every day. I remind him (usually at bedtime when we can snuggle and I have his full attention) how wonderful I think he is, and how I admire his kind heart and wise mind. He’s been responding to it extremely well. I’ve noticed that he considers trying new experiences a lot more easily, like trying the new slide at the water park recently. He loved it (happy mommy dance)!
When we affirm our kids with love and remind them of how they are wonderfully and perfectly made (Psalm 139:14), they begin to believe in themselves a lot more. Out of their trust in us, they begin to understand their abilities better and believe that they truly can do all that we say they can. The power of confidence and self-assurance can be a total game changer for your child.
Daily affirmations aren’t the only piece of the puzzle to help our children believe more in themselves. It’s not enough to say they can do something. They need to know that we believe they can do it too.
Let Them Hear Your Words
I know of a few parents who honestly and whole-heartedly believe in their kids. They know, without a doubt, that their kids will have an easy time getting into a good college and, later, getting a good job, living a comfortable, financially stable life. They see the potential in their kids, and that’s a very good thing.
The problem is that these parents haven’t told their kids about their belief in them. They haven’t said the actual words. Maybe it just never came up, maybe some parents think it’s implied enough, or maybe they just aren’t good communicators. Whatever the excuse, it’s so important that our kids know we believe in them. They need to hear it from us directly. Not in a card. Not in an email or text. And not necessarily through our actions. No, they need to hear the words come directly from our mouths.
Just like Father God did for His son, Jesus.
Believing Right from the Start
In Matthew 3, Jesus went to His cousin, John the Baptist, to be baptized. After a little debate, John finally agreed to baptize Jesus. Verses 16–17 tell us how went after that:
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice a came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” (NKJ)
Before Jesus had performed any miracles, before He healed anyone, before He turned water into wine, before He did a single thing, Father God affirmed His son and told Him He was accepted right from the start. God told Jesus that He believed in Him, and He did it with His words.
God sets an excellent example of how we are to love our kids. While they are still very little, before they ever do one thing in their lives, they need to begin hearing from us on a regular basis that we believe in them, that we are “well pleased” with them. They need to know that we believe they can do anything. And, they need to know we accept them just as God made them.
Believing the Impossible
Believing in our kids means we believe they can do whatever they set their minds to (God’s will notwithstanding). We shouldn’t crush their dreams and ambitions no matter how impossible or outlandish or ill-advised those dreams may be.
So, when your child makes a public declaration that he wants to be a famous guitar player, or he wants to circumnavigate the earth in a canoe, or she wants to first create a medicine that will help spinach taste better followed by becoming the first female NHL MVP and then become President of the United States, and then becoming a hugely popular fashion designer, plus get married and have a few kids of her own while being the CEO of her own nationwide bookstore…as hard as it may be, we have to keep our mouths in check and offer our encouragement.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life.”
If we decide to shine a light of reality on our kids’ wild (and sometimes not so wild) dreams and goals, our kids will only hear a subtle undertone that we don’t believe they can do it. With our words, we can bring death to everything they imagine they can do.
Speaking words of life and love, instead, build up our kids. They help them to know we accept them as they are and we believe that God can do great things in their lives. Throw in some daily words of loving affirmation and we can inspire our kids to do things we never thought possible.
What Do You Believe?
Philippians 4:13 is a famous reminder that we “can do all things through Christ who strengthens” us. Do you believe this?
Do you believe your kids can do anything? If nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), if God is on their side as He promises He is, then we ought to believe that our kids can truly do whatever they put their minds to. When they say they want to explore plant life on Pluto, we need to respond with a resounding and affirming, “Yes, sweetie, you can.”
Yes, God’s will is still true. If our kids desire to do something that is outside of His will, God will, of course, prevent it from happening. But….
What if what they want to do is within His will? We can’t predict the future or guess God’s thoughts and power. So, why should we prevent them from anything that is even remotely possible?
All we have to do is believe they can and make them believe that, whatever they do in life, we accept who they are no matter the outcome. Good or bad. Success or failure. They need to know they are loved even before they make a move. We know they are in the perfect hands of a perfect God, so let’s give them the wings they need to fly.
Our kids can do amazing things for the kingdom of God if we only just believe they can and love them out of our acceptance of how God designed them to be. He has a plan for each of us. Let’s set our kids free and see where they can make the impossible possible for Christ.
It’s not always easy to let our kids believe they can do whatever they dream. As adults, we’re often jaded and too realistic about things. We try to warn them so we can save them trouble and heartache. But are we keeping them from their dreams when we do that? Are we keeping them from fulfilling what God created them to do? What are your thoughts about it? Tell me how you have inspired your kids to do great things for God. I would love to hear from you.