“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jer. 29:11 NRSV).
In my last post, (part 8) we read about using word pictures to bring down defenses our children might put up, so we can communicate high value to them. King Solomon did this with his bride because of her insecurity over her looks (Song of Solomon 1:6). Today, we will explore the fourth and last way to convey high value to our children–uncovering qualities they may not know they have in a way that adds to their hope of a special future.
Highlight Their Potential
When we know we are good at something we feel more hopeful about our lives. As parents, if we point out those qualities that our children possess it will do the same for them. We are highlighting possible channels for them to travel and explore later. Living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, we use a pellet stove during the winter months to heat our home. Whenever we come indoors we automatically navigate to the pellet stove for what it provides–warmth. Words that convey high value to our children work like that pellet stove. They provide the needed warmth of a parent’s concern along with the hope of a fulfilling their potential. So, how do we convey words of high value to convey a child’s potential?
My son, Lawrence, is like his dad. He works well with his hands. As a toddler, we noticed he liked to work with moving things; he had an insatiable desire to know how things were put together and how they functioned. It wasn’t unusual for him to take something apart just to see how it worked. At two, his strong interest in building with Legos began. Each year he mastered several Lego kits progressing through the various levels of difficulty. Before long, he was building complex objects such as fire trucks, towering cranes, Monster trucks, or airplanes just by looking at the pictures. Some of these kits had over 1,000 pieces. We couldn’t keep up with his need to go on to the next challenge. He finished them quickly and what seemed to me, effortlessly. It wasn’t long before he mixed all the Lego pieces together and began designing his own colossal structures. I was amazed at his creativity.
Early on I began with words such as: “Wow! Lawrence, you can really build neat things! God put that in you.” Later, as he moved into his pre-teen years those words became: “Like your dad, you are good at building and creating with your hands and this skill that God gave you will help you find your life’s work.” And so on, you get the idea.
A Special Future from Words and Nature
The prophet Jeremiah also spoke words of a special future directed to God’s people in Judah (the southern kingdom). “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 nrsv). God’s people were in exile but Jeremiah’s words brought them confidence, optimism, faith, and hope.
According to John Trent and Gary Smalley, the authors of The Blessing, God also communicates this special future message through nature. There are numerous “spiritual truths that illustrate the importance of providing a special future for the ones we love.”1 Our four seasons of the year, for example, provide many spiritual lessons, as does small creatures, such as the caterpillar that emerges from its cocoon as a butterfly. Just the transformation process of the caterpillar can be the catalyst for words that can transform a child’s potential into his/her reality.
When our children were born, God placed them in our care. It is as if He said to us: “This child is mine, but I’m giving her to you–a gift–to cherish and love, to guard, to nurture, and to draw out her potential I place within her.”
Like me, I know you want the special future that Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about for your children, yes? So, the question is, What will we do with this gift of potential?
1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 121.