James and I love to sit down and talk about our kids.
Not just how they acted throughout the day, or what they did. But more of who they are, and who they may become.
Before they were born we chose a life verse for them. We have prayed these verses over them, taught them, and they have memorized them (minus the 1 year old of course).
This wasn't something that we struggled to figure out how to do together, it's just something that we love to do. We love to look at the qualities God has given our children and imagine what He may do with those.
Then we share those positive qualities with the kids. We tell them that they are bold, compassionate, caring, funny, strong, or smart. We tell them the ways that they can use these qualities now, while they are young.
We know that by putting these thoughts into their minds, they will be thinking of the greatness they could accomplish. When we tell them they are naughty, rude, or unkind their minds are filled with these things. We want our children to grow up knowing that we see the good in them, even when they are acting badly.
Here's some really practical ways we do this.
1. Choose A Life Verse
For Josiah we chose 1 Timothy 6:11 (the latter part) "Pursue rightness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness". (He always adds "Fight the good fight for God!)
For Micah 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." (And he adds "Fight the good fight for God!)
For Ella Matthew 5:14,16 "You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise you're heavenly Father."
A good way to start to look for some of these verses is to ask people what their favorite verses might be and why. Or here's a great site full of life verses.
Read them to your kids, and have them memorize them. Speak this truth into them, and let it soak in.
We see these verses beginning to show throughout their personalities even now.
2. Look for their Strong Qualities and Encourage Them
For example Josiah can be very shy, quite, and sensitive. If you just took those qualities at face value you would miss all of the wonderful things that they have to offer. He is a great listener, he is compliant, and he is full of compassion. We tell him that we see these wonderful qualities in him and we praise him when he acts compassionately toward somebody else.
3. Encourage their "Bad" Qualities for the Better
My sweet Micah can tend to be loud, defiant, and super stubborn. It is so easy to look at this and be frustrated and annoyed by this strong personality. But when
I'm an engaged parent I can look at these and tell Micah that even though his behavior is not okay now, one day he will grow to be a bold man of God. We can tell Micah that because he doesn't care how others think of him, he can be bold for Christ despite persecution.
4. Tell Them Professions They May Love
Josiah always talks about wanting to be a superhero. Help others, save them, and fight for them. James and I have talked about how we can see Josiah becoming an activist. Speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves. I can see him doing a lot of humble, volunteer work for the needy. When I see his compassion showing through, I'll say things to him like; "Wow Jo, you care about people so much. Maybe one day you will be a doctor, or a teacher. You will be such a people lover!"
5. Teach them to Pray
Our kids have learned a little song that we sing around the dinner table. It gives thanks to God in a easy way to remember. But as they begin to grow we want them to learn how to pray. It's crucial that they understand how to speak to God on their own. We teach them that they don't need to be kneeling beside their bed, or even have their eyes closed. Prayer is constant communication with God. Just as you would speak to a friend, speak to God. We have also taught them to pray for those we love, and those who are needy and unfortunate. We do make them pray even when they don't want to. It's critical they understand the importance and the power of prayer.
6. Teach them to Love Others First
Doesn't it just melt your heart when you see your child share a toy all of their own accord. When Micah runs up to one of his friends and says; "look I found the yellow Batman, you can have it first"; it brings a sense of pride to me
even though i t doesn't happen often …yet. We try to be diligent in teaching them the "why" behind our actions. We try to instill empathy, and love, and compassion into their tiny, little, moldable minds. We tell them why it hurts people when you take their toy, or say something stupid unkind. Teaching them love at this young age will hopefully stick with them as they grow into adults. Love is powerful, love can change the world. Just look at Jesus!
Don't get me wrong! I'm not always doing this with them. Sometimes I'm throwing them in their rooms for being naughty, without explaining to them about the vision of their future. Life is messy, busy, and dramatic. It is impossible for me to always see the good in the bad, but when I strive to do so, I find I'm a much more compassionate mother. When Josiah comes to me
being way too oversensitive crying about his feelings, it's not always practical for me to say; "Oh JoJo, you are going to be such a compassionate man of God." It's just not going to happen all the time. But sitting down with James and talking about the tantrums and being able to find the good in them, it saves our sanity and gives us a glimmer of hope.
I want to encourage you to do the same with your kids. It is fun to picture them grown, and serving the Lord…
and not behind bars.
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