As parents we want the best for our children. We want to see them flourish and experience life at its best. But sometimes we approach the attaining of this fine goal in the wrong way. We excessively correct or critique our child(ren) doing this in the name of helping them be their God-given best. We push them to achieve, raising the bar higher and higher, wanting them to reach their full potential. And these are not bad things in and of themselves, but many times a steady diet of only these things can lead to discouragement in our child(ren), even wanting to give up and not try because they never seem to meet the standard.
An important antidote or balance to the above measures is to practice biblical affirmation with our child(ren). Biblical affirmation is like praise, but with one very important difference. It ties the praise to the originator of the gift. It looks at what is commendable in the child, and offers commendation, but does so in a way that honors the source of the commendable trait, namely the Lord Jesus.
So, as you consider how the Lord has blessed your child, you see that he has endowed him with a great mind. You recognize that that great mind is a mere reflection of the Lord who has complete understanding of all things. You recognize that it is a gift of the Lord’s grace. So, when your child brings home a paper with an “A” grade, or a report card full of good grades, it is important to commend this, but in doing so to acknowledge the source of this wonderful gift. “It is so neat to see you using the wonderful mind God has given to you. It must bring you great joy to know how he has blessed you in this way. Well done!” Such affirmations should be coming from you, the parent, far more times than your corrections.
In his book, Practicing Affirmation, Sam Crabtree, shares a personal story within his family. He noted that his 11 year old daughter was growing increasingly distant, becoming less and less communicative. He recognized that he was losing the battle for his daughter’s heart and this grieved him because he knew little girls need input from their dad. So what could he do? He states, “I determined that this eleven-year-old daughter whom I loved would receive more praise from me than from anyone else on the face of the globe. I became a student of her. I thought, if I have to stay up nights thinking of ways to commend her, then I will, because she is going to need to hear from her father.” The story ends well as Crabtree saw a transformation in his daughter that the Lord brought about by the means of his intentional and biblical affirmations.
Now lest you think this is only a psychological technique, take a look at 1 Thessalonians 1. There you will see Paul giving biblical affirmation. He commends their labor of love, work of faith, and perseverance of hope. He affirms their becoming imitators of Paul to such an extent that their witness is known all around. And does he just leave it there? No, he unites this wonderful commendation to the work of God in their hearts: How they turned from idols to serve the living God, how this amazing transformation is due to the Lord having loved them and chosen them.
Parents, as you seek your child’s best interest, sprinkle in large doses of biblical affirmation. It may be the ingredient the Lord uses to bring your child to flourish in His life.
Written by Ron Elwardt - Website
Ron Elwardt moved to Phoenix from Wisconsin (Go Packers! Go Badgers!) with his wife Ruth and daughters Megan and Becca in 1989. Recently celebrating his 25th year of ministry at Camelback Bible Church, Pastor Ron currently serves as Pastor of Families and Children. “That I may know Him [Christ] and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death.” – Philippians 3:10