Mr. Rogers once said, “The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.”
Today, as a father and a grandfather, I reflect on the importance of blessing my children and grandchildren. While it’s certainly fun for me to bless my family with tangible gifts, those items will one day be thrown away, used up, passed on or forgotten. But it is the intangible blessings I can offer my children and grandchildren that will shape them, that they will, hopefully, keep forever.
So, how do we bless our younger generations so that they can be a blessing to the world? I think there are four primary ways:
Build our children’s self-esteem.
All children are created by God with the incredible potential for life. By building our children’s self-esteem and nurturing their gifts, we have the opportunity to help them build character, confidence and compassion.
When you look at your children or the children entrusted to you, what do you see? I hope you see an incredible amount of potential.
Yet, the reason that so many kids today are struggling is because they’ve never been told they have potential. Let’s teach children to believe in the possibilities of the future. Let’s keep investing our time and our energy into younger generations. The joy of building children up into who they are far outweighs the exhaustion.
Love our children unconditionally.
Unconditional love is unbreakable — it perseveres through trials and obstacles.
Children respond to unconditional love, though it may take years. Don’t ever suggest to your children that your love for them is based upon their behavior. Rather, let your children know that no matter what they do, your love is lasting. Be expressive, be effusive in your love for your children. Be open and transparent with your love because we never know what a day may bring. We never want our children to question whether or not they are loved.
Encourage our children’s best.
Every child needs a champion, a cheerleader. I’m so thankful for my dad, Tom Graham, who encouraged me every step of the way as I grew from a child into a young man. I can’t remember a ballgame or an event that my father was not there cheering me on. He was willing to stand in the background in order that my brother and I might take center stage. He had a profound influence on my life and I would not be the man I am today without him.
My brother and I were extremely fortunate. Many children grow up in an environment of criticism and negativity. Some of us are cynical because that is what we learned in our families when we were growing up. But we can break that cycle. When we start blessing our children with encouragement, we are encouraging generations to come. How we praise our children will ultimately be reflected in their own lives and in their own parenting. So praise and encourage them in every way possible.
Shape our children’s values.
We must not leave our children to fend for themselves in this world that is often no friend of the vulnerable. We shape our children’s values by praying for them, by protecting them and then by teaching them about a relationship with God.
For example, the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is filled with truths passed down from a father to a son. We must ensure we are imparting wisdom — and not just human wisdom, but God’s wisdom — to our children.
Our children are living through one of the most difficult and important times in history. They can be the ones to bring hope to the hopeless. They are the ones who will stand for truth, justice, and righteousness. We need to take seriously our responsibility of shaping and developing them, because they are our future.
Share our faith with our children.
Sharing our faith is like passing a baton. How we make the transfer is vital to the cause of the kingdom of God and the future of our families.
In a relay race, the most critical moment is the exchange of the baton from one runner to the next. They don’t slow down to do it. In fact, they’re running at full speed. If we intend to successfully pass the baton of faith to those who will run after us, we must do likewise. As we get older and as the race continues, let’s make sure we keep running well so that from the first steps to the last steps, our children will know that we are men of faith.
To all those who are fathers or are serving as fathers to the fatherless, it is my prayer that you would not only know the blessing of God upon your own lives but that you would give that blessing away. Through your blessing, your children will change the world.
Dr. Jack Graham is the pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and fastest-growing churches in America. He is the author of the acclaimed Unseen, and his PowerPoint Ministries broadcasts are available in 92 countries and are heard daily in more than 740 cities. Follow him @jackngraham.