I was sitting next to her mother when the young woman arrived to pick up her son. She was tall, thin, and her long dark hair was naturally curly and complimented her dark eyes. She walked over to where her mother and I were sitting, greeted us, grabbed her son’s hand, and left. She never made eye contact.
“Your daughter is beautiful,” I said. “Oh, really?” she answered. “She doesn’t think she is. Her father and I made it a point to never tell her she was beautiful because we didn’t want her to become prideful.”
I was stunned.
I knew the young woman’s story. She had been homeschooled and had come from a very strict, rules oriented home. When she graduated from high school and got a job that didn’t revolve around the church or her home, she began to receive the kind of attention and affirmation that she had not received at home. She married a man her parents did not approve of and she now had a child. She was living under the cloud of her parent’s disapproval.
I know that the young woman’s parents were well meaning. I have known others with a similar parenting philosophy. But I left that conversation feeling very sad, and I resolved to not follow in her footsteps. My children were very young at the time and I couldn’t imagine NOT encouraging them in any way possible!
So, how can a parent encourage their children and keep them from becoming prideful?
1. It is not our job to “raise Godly children” or to “keep them from becoming prideful”. It is our calling to be:
- authentic believers and live out the gospel in humility before our children.
- to nurture, instruct, guide, love, build up, and pray for our children.
- to share God’s Word and share the gospel with our children.
God is the only one who can work in a child’s heart and change him into a godly, humble person. His Spirit draws them, opens their eyes, and changes and matures them.
2. Children are born with a prideful, sinful, and self focused heart.
- Ephesians 2:3 tells us that we are all “by nature children of wrath.”
- Proverbs 22:15 tells us, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”
- Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”
- Ephesians 2:2 says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.”
- Genesis 8:21 declares, “…the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
3. We can help our kids learn how to deal with the pride that is already in their hearts by:
- teaching them how to fight the fight we are all in, and letting them know that we as are all in this fight together.
- making sure they know that we are coming along side them, will help equip them to be able to sift through all the messages that are out there and see things in the right perspective! GOD’S perspective!
- helping them to see and sift through the lies of our culture that might cause them to stumble.
God has created every single aspect of our being to be used to bring Him glory. We are made in His image, which means we are a reflection of Him. That means who we are physically, mentally/emotionally, spiritually, and our gifts and abilities. All these things show us how good God is and they are gifts from him. They are also areas that can cause us to focus on Him if we see them correctly.
We can affirm our children because God has made them uniquely the way they are, and when we do that we are glorifying God for his good works.
I’m not talking about flattery or “building self-esteem”. I’m not talking about feeding the prideful desire for human praise. I am talking about praising the work that God has done and is doing in another person.
Praising people to the glory of God.
Back to the young woman. I wonder if she would have made different choices if she had been encouraged and affirmed as she was growing up. If she had learned how to handle the attention she would get outside of the four walls of her home and church, learned that she was created in the image of God, and that her beauty and abilities were a reflection of HIS image, maybe things would have been different. I don’t know. But ignoring the fact that she was beautiful didn’t make the fact that she was beautiful non-existent. All it did was make her feel like she wasn’t anything special and that she wasn’t attractive. Nothing was done to help equip her in how to use these characteristics to point others to God.
I can think of nothing better than refreshing my children and pointing them to God and His goodness, by expressing gratitude for how God has made them and what God is doing in them. It enables them to see God’s great work, but also helps them to see Him as the source.
I am looking for every opportunity I can to encourage my children, and others, in this way so that they are refreshed and God gets the glory He deserves
Tell them they are beautiful….inside and out!
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
Tell them so that they will know full well!