“To value something means to attach great importance to it,” says, John Trent and Gary Smalley in their book, The Blessing. If you look at the root word for blessing it conveys a double meaning. The first one is that it means to “bow the knee” and second, to “add value.”1 John Trent and Gary Smalley put it this way: “In relationship to God the word came to mean “to adore with bended knees.”2 Wow! What an illustrative picture of what Christ-followers desire God to mean to them. In my last post, we read about our words and how they matter. Words can bless or curse or bring life or death.
As parents, when we pray and ask God to bless our children, what are we really asking God to do? Look at Psalm 103. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (nrsv). The phrase, “bless the Lord” are words that attach high value. We’re conveying to God that He is valuable and therefore worthy to be praised on bended knee. The same concept applies to our family members, but for the sake of this series, our children.
In the United States, bowing the knee is rarely done. But in Old Testament times, bowing was a mark of respect and honor, something that was expected in the presence of an important person.3
Word Pictures that Convey High Value
The Bible is full of word pictures to describe an Old Testament figure. Today, we do the same. In our family business, we have one employee who is a military veteran. His short stocky muscular build has earned him the honored nickname, “Shrek.” If you look at Joseph in Genesis 49:22, he’s described as a “fruitful bough” by a spring. Joseph was indeed fruitful. His long list of descendants include Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land, Deborah, Gideon, and Jephthah, all judges of Israel (Judges 4.4; 6.11, 12; 11.11) and Samuel, a distinguished prophet (1Samuel 3:19). Another example is Jacob. He selected word pictures for each of his sons. “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, blessing each one of them with a suitable blessing” (Gen. 49:28 NRSV). Notice Jacob said, “suitable blessing.” He customized each son’s character with a personal word picture. His son, Judah is described as a lion’s whelp (cub). A lion was a picture of strength. It was also a symbol of royalty in the ancient Near East.. 4
Use Everyday Objects
There are two ways to attach a word picture to your child that conveys high value. According to authors of The Blessing, Trent and Smalley the first way is to use an everyday object. The idea is to pick something that is familiar that captures a character quality or a physical feature inherent in your children. For my daughter, Megan, I gave her the nickname, “Sweetpea.” She was a tiny baby when she was born weighing just 5 lbs. 9 oz. and she was the most content baby, a fact that as a first time mom I was grateful for. For my son, Lawrence, we called him, “little man.” He was small for his age (both sides of our families are short and stocky), but I later realized we missed the mark. At 14, he had a huge growth spurt and now stands at 5 ft. 11 inches, taller than all of our living relatives combined (possibly from a recessive gene from my grandfather – the only tall one on both sides of our families).
Match the Emotional Meaning of the Trait You Are Praising with the Object You’ve Picked.
The second way Trent and Smalley show us how to attach a word picture to your children that conveys high value is to match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked. It just so happened that our second nickname we occasionally called our daughter, Megan, was a word-play on her name. As a teen she hated learning to cook; she preferred to bake. As most little girls do, she loved baking alongside me. So, when I began making cookies and pies that called for the spice nutmeg, I flipped the word and began calling her “megnut” whenever we baked. Nutmeg has a nice and sweet aroma to it and it matched her sweet and sometimes “nutty” personality.
If you haven’t already done so, think of several word pictures for each of your children that conveys a message of high value unique to each one.
On Monday, we’ll look at two additional ways Trent and Smalley of The Blessing teach us to attach high value to our children through word pictures. You won’t want to miss this. It’s a word picture that helps us to communicate high value to people who put up defenses such as insecurity and using word pictures to highlight a child’s potential.
1 John Trent and Gary Smalley. The Blessing (Nashville, TN.,Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993), 96.
3 Ibid. 99
4 Ibid. 102