“Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
Every parent longs to leave a positive legacy in their children, but what does it take? Having dealt with thousands of families over the years, I’ve noticed four common gifts we need to give to the next generation: Our presence, our acceptance, our guidance and our correction.
The gift of your presence: Sometimes just being there is what matter most to your kids.
One day, my daughter came home crushed after not making the color guard in eighth grade. To make matters worse, all of her friends had made it. Sobbing, Amy went and sat on the floor of her walk-in closet.
But one by one, each member of our family entered her room and crawled into the closet just to sit on the floor with her in silence and cry with her. None of us tried to talk her out of her grief. We didn’t minimize her pain. We didn’t change the subject. We didn’t try to get her to look at the bright side of what had happened. We didn’t urge her to try harder next time. We just sat there and hurt with her.
Jesus said we should, “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
That is the essence of empathy; it is the gift of presence.
In the Bible, when disaster and tragedy completely wiped out Job’s family, three of his friends came and just sat in silence with him for three days. As long as they kept their mouths shut, it was comforting to Job. But as soon as they started conjecturing the possible reasons for Job’s pain and offering advice, they got into trouble.
The Bible says, “Everyone must be quick to listen, but slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).
Just as brick homes are built one brick at a time, the lives of our children are built with the bricks of presence, acceptance, guidance, and correction. Every time you give a child one of these gifts, you are building his or her life. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the gift of acceptance.
“Then he said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me also welcomes my Father who sent me. Whoever is the least among you is the greatest’” (Luke 9:48).
Over the years, I’ve noticed four common gifts we need to give to the next generation: Our presence, our acceptance, our guidance and our correction.
The gift of your acceptance: Everyone craves acceptance. It seems we never get enough. When you give your children the opportunity to be themselves and to become what God—not you—wants them to be, you give them a great legacy. The welcoming environment of acceptance is the atmosphere in which kids bloom. Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a little child, welcomes me” (Luke 9:48).
Even though they’re your children, acceptance is never automatic. You must be intentional in offering it and continual in showing it. one of the most important times is when a child does something that embarrasses you publicly. At that moment, you have a choice: Will I care more about how others see me or about the feelings of my child? We’ve all seen embarrassed parents in stores use angry, derogatory words with kids who didn’t realize what they were doing.
An often-quoted research study noted that the single greatest factor determining whether a child succeeds in life or messes up is the presence and acceptance of a caring adult in his or her life. The amazing discovery was that it doesn’t have to be a parent! It just has to be someone who offers love, acceptance, and godly guidance.
“Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life” (Proverbs 22:6).
The gift of your guidance: God could have made children completely self-sufficient when they left their mother’s womb, but he didn’t. They need us.
Children desperately need adults for guidance. They need direction and assistance from those of us who have already walked down the road. The Bible says, “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life” (Proverbs 22:6).
If you hiked through the Swiss Alps, it would be far easier, less dangerous, and more fulfilling to have an experienced guide lead you. He would show you features that you would normally miss and he would warn you about difficult parts of your journey. That’s what every kid needs.
Children also need to learn from your mistakes and your past pain. They can learn from their own experiences, but they can also avoid a lot of unnecessary pain by learning from your experiences. It’s wiser and faster to learn from the experiences of others. God never wants you to waste your mistakes and hurts. He wants you to use them to help others. When you see others go down a path you personally know is a dead end, speak up! It’s the loving thing to do.
Even if you’re not a parent, kids need you in their lives, and you need them! Kids teach us to think of others and be less self-centered. You will teach them, but they will also teach you in many ways. For instance, you can teach them self-control and they can teach you spontaneity and creativity. Right now, are there any children in your life that you are helping?
PurposeDriven.com by Rick Warren