Contributed By Larry Keefauver
How do I speak affirmation into my child’s life? I expect my child to honor me; how do I communicate honor to him?
~ A loving parent
One of the most moving times we have in our worship services is when church leaders pray for blessing upon their people and when parents pray a blessing over their children.
A father was so moved during such a time that he said, “When I pray a blessing over my children, I yearn to have my father bless me. He never spoke blessings over my life—only curses and criticism.”
That grown father recently visited his father, who is now in his 80s. He asked his father to pray a blessing over his life. Something that never happened for him as a child finally happened as an adult. That adult child told me how old hurts and bondages from childhood were broken as his father prayed a blessing over him.
Gary Smalley and John Trent write of the importance of a blessing. They define it this way in their book, The Gift Of Blessing: “A family blessing begins with meaningful touching. It continues with a spoken message of high value, a message that pictures a special future for the individual being blessed, and one that is based on an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass.”
When was the last time you spoke a gift of blessing over your child? Instead of doing it just once, do it often. Find ways to convey upon your child blessings, not curses.
I overheard a woman in the grocery store intensely speak a curse over her misbehaving child. “You’re gonna be the death of me,” she uttered in anger. I cringed with the thought of what a tragic foundation she was laying for her future relationship with her son.
The elements of blessing that you can communicate to your children are defined clearly in Smalley and Trent’s definition:
• Meaningful touch (Gen. 27:26)
• A spoken message (John 1:14)
• Attaching higher value (Gen. 27:27–29)
• Picturing a special future (Gen. 27:28–29)
• An active commitment
In Scripture, the God of promise stood behind His fatherly blessings. Paul confirms this: “As surely as God is true, I am not that sort of person. My yes means yes because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, never wavers between yes and no. He is the one whom Timothy, Silas, and I preached to you, and He is the divine Yes—God’s affirmation. For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Him. That is why we say Amen when we give glory to God through Christ” (2 Cor. 1:18–20).
A second gift you can give your children is that of honor. Smalley and Trent wrote, “One way we honor our loved ones, parents, and family members is to give them a high position on our priority list and look back in thanks on how they’ve enriched our lives.”
Of course, you desire for your children to honor you. That honor is modeled by you honoring others, including your child. Ask yourself these questions:
• How do I honor and respect the dignity and significance of my child?
• What priority does my child have in my life for my time and attention?
• When do I thank my child for how he or she has enriched my life?
When we honor our children, we are treating them the way we wish to be treated. Paul instructs us, “Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. Your attitude should be the same one that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God” (Phil. 2:3–6).
Here’s an interesting self-test for you as a parent. List all the rights you have as a parent. Now look over the list and read Philippians 2:6–11. In order to demonstrate God’s love for us, Christ exchanged His rights as the Son of God for a cross. Ask yourself:
• Am I willing to take my rights as a parent and nail them to the cross (Gal. 2:20)?
• Am I willing to lay my life down as a friend for my children (John 15:13–27)?
Whatever rights and authority we have as parents have been given to us by the Lord. We have surrendered our own personal rights, agenda and desires, wanting instead what God wants for our children. Our attitude needs to be like Hannah’s when she presented Samuel to the Lord: “I asked the Lord to give me this child, and He has given me my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life” (1 Sam. 1:27–28).
Your child belongs to the Lord. So do you—including your rights and authority as a parent.