Posts Tagged ‘raising children’

Do You Know How to Give “Good Gifts” to Your Children?

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13)

          Certainly none of us ever want to give gifts to our children that are harmful. This scripture assures us that our heavenly Father only gives good gifts to us, by means of His Holy Spirit. His gifts are meant to help us as we journey through this life to live it more abundantly and to have a life that is marked by joy and peace in the midst of whatever mess we may be facing. His gifts have a purpose and direction behind them and empower us to be the person He created us to be.

          With that in mind shouldn’t we as parents think wisely about the gifts we give our children? While not excluding the material gifts I wish us to consider the more intangible things that we are likely to pass on, things that develop character. I am struck today by the enormous disregard for truth that is so prevalent in our society. The victim mentality has all but taken over many who live in and around us. The victim mentality says that the world owes me and even when I find myself in an unfortunate situation I can feel free to put a spin on it so that I am not ultimately responsible. Many of the leaders of our country as well as popular sports figures, movie stars, singers and actors fail to own their own mess. We have become a society that enables bad behavior by constantly calling it something other than what it is followed by worldly solutions such as a week in rehab or the latest pill (which by the way has more side effects than the original problem).  So one “good gift” among many that I can think of is a respect for the “truth” and the character to own your own mess.

          If you want to view a blatant example of deception in place of the truth, go to the following link for an explanation of the GM payback. (I forgot to include some of our corporate leaders in the above list.) This is “smoke and mirrors” at its zenith. There’s a popular mindset floating around our culture today that truth is whatever one perceives it to be. The corporate leaders as well as their political counterparts would like us to believe that GM paid back the multi-billion dollar bailout when in fact they received additional taxpayer dollars, TARP money, to use for the payback. Take it from one pocket and put in another. Is this really a payback? See if that will work for your mortgage or your car payment. Is this integrity and what does it say about their opinion of the American public?

          Our culture is in dire need of leadership with moral fiber. Our children are the next generation to lead and we must pass on some standard of character and honesty for them to operate by. We must guard against allowing the culture of our times to mold our thinking and our behavior.  Good gifts include a legacy of values, respect, standards and priorities. Look around and ask, are we better off with than were a decade or two ago or have these precious commodities eroded? The proof is all around of us.

Children Want to Know!

        thumbnail Recently I was asked about the subject of explaining God and heaven to children. It’s an excellent question because it exemplifies how our hearts should be towards those who do not have a relationship with our creator. When we are in a right relationship with God and we can see what that relationship produces in our own lives, we naturally want others to share in our new found freedom. How do we share our faith? What transpires that actually has an effect on another human being?

         The process of leading others to an understanding of salvation is a partnership. It’s a partnership between each of us and God. We have the responsibility to bear witness to others as to what God has done for us and the supernatural part of drawing someone to a saving grace belongs to God. Our part is simply explaining what God has done for us. The interesting part of the question regarding children is that Jesus said “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)  It takes childlike faith to believe. Not one person can enter into a relationship with God by logic, reason or mental assent. It’s truly a supernatural transformation. That’s why it is so hard for some to believe. 

          Someone said that each generation will be judged by the spirituality of the next. We should therefore be concerned about the spiritual development of the next generation. So the question of explaining God to our children is all important. As the father of three grown children I can only speak from my own experience. All three have grown up in the saving knowledge of Jesus and now it is their turn to pass it along to our grandchildren. Teaching has its place but teaching alone is not enough. There is a saying in Christian circles that “Christianity is caught, not taught”. Children tend to evaluate parents actions more than their words, so what we model to our children has a tendency to impact their belief system. The old parental adage “do as I say not as I do” isn’t based upon sound doctrine and children can see through the hypocrisy. 

          Another important analogy about child rearing is this. In the beginning it’s a dictatorship but as they grow you had better gradually grow into a democracy. Don’t misunderstand, parents must remain responsible for their offspring until they are of legal age but to develop into mature people children must gradually be given some freedom. This may even include allowing them to make an occasional mistake. Some times our mistakes teach us more than all the lectures in the world. 

          Last but not least, we must be willing to admit our mistakes to our children. Sometimes this may even require an apology from us for misjudging their intentions or for an overreaction on our part. This may be a bitter pill for some parents to swallow but it is an important part of letting a child know that they are valued and respected. What does all of this have to do with explaining God to children? Just this, we all struggle in this life and we are all imperfect. Confession and reconciliation are good for the soul. Loving others as yourself requires our open honesty and transparency. If we show others, especially our children, how to cope with the difficulties presented us in this imperfect life, just maybe it will become contagious.