At Christmastime or anytime, what parent (or grandparent) doesn’t want to give good gifts to their kids? But what kind of gifts should they choose? Here are five of the best gifts you can give your children of grandchildren:
1. Show Them the Way “Home.”
In Kenneth Price’s book, The Eagle Christian, he shares some remarkable facts about the golden eagle. The golden eagle has a unique series of tissues in its eyes which act as a built-in-gyroscope. As long as the eagle is away from its nest, it feels imbalanced, even pressure in its eyes, often painful. As the eagle comes closer to home, however, the pain reduces. It can find its way home even from thousands of miles away because of this God-given sense of direction. Not only that, but it can see objects from miles away.
Our homes here on earth are only temporary. One day we’re going to our real home that God has prepared for all His children who have chosen to follow Him. If we are wise, and use eagle eyes, we will discern where home really is. And no matter how painful life becomes on this earth, or what we go through (our children, too), the pain begins to subside the closer we get to Home–the more we see our real purpose here on this earth, and our real destination. Wise parents and grandparents will teach their children where home really is.
2. Encourage Them to “Always Do the Right thing.”
A 2008 survey by Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith revealed that when questioned, the majority of 18 to 23-year-olds had no basic standard to measure right and wrong. Most chose to act simply on their feelings–what made them happy as individuals. New York Columnist David Brooks, in his commentary, “Young Adults Left Adrift in Sea of Moral Relativity,” ended his blog with these words: ‘Morality was once revealed, inherited and shared, but now it’s thought of as something that emerges in the privacy of your own heart.” And in the days we now live, morality is fast becoming a lost reality.
As parents or grandparents, we are the ones given the responsibility to teach (and model) God’s moral standards. They are not our standards. They are God’s. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV).
The Bible contains God’s moral standards, and His Word, will never “pass away.” Just teaching them does not guarantee our children or grandchildren will always make the right choice. Nor should we promote judgmentalism. Our kids or grandkids will still make many of their own decisions, obviously wrong ones at times. But when we teach (and model for) children to “always do the right thing,” with patience, grace, and love, they will at least have been taught a standard by which to make personal, wise decisions. And that gives them a head start in recognizing when something is obviously the “wrong choice”–not just what makes them feel good or what “seems right in their own eyes.”
3. Raise Your Children for Greatness, not Success.
Tim Kimmel’s book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, emphasizes the difference between greatness and success. What do we emphasize to our children or grandchildren? Scholarships? Degrees? Sports? Awards? Or do we show them how they can be on mission for God, however and wherever God leads them? Is it possible to teach excellence, while still demonstrating a servant spirit?
Which is more important? Washing feet or climbing ladders? Promoting ourselves? Or helping others? Relieving injustice or accumulating $$$? Do they believe in the “Hero or Zero” mandate? Or does servanthood, forgiveness and compassion top their most wanted traits?
I admit somewhere along the line God must have dropped showers of grace upon our home, because I didn’t always “model” God’s standard, even though it was my heart’s desire to do so. And neither my children nor I always made the wisest of decisions. But they knew God’s standards. And they have chosen as adults to teach them to their children as well. I tell others that God gave us extravagant grace to “re-parent” our children, even as they were emerging into adulthood–at the same time He was “re-parenting” us.
If you…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11, NIV.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17, NIV
If you’re a parent or grandparent, be encouraged! There are no perfect parents or perfect children. And only God gives perfect gifts. But we serve a loving, forgiving God. Come back next week to discover the final two “best” gifts you can give your children or grandchildren. They may be the two most important ones you can offer them.
* This blog appeared a few years ago, but I am repeating it because many have subscribed since then. I hope it encourages you!
What gifts have you given your children or grandchildren?