Author: Peter Whitney, Pastor of Kirk o’ the Isles Presbyterian Church
Lunchtime at the Whitney household is probably the best time of the day for the kids. Not only for the fact that we have food (most all Whitney’s love food), but Mom is reading the lunch-time devotional. Now, Dad is not that bad of a reader himself (if I do say so myself), however, he is clearly no Mom. Mom is a tremendous reader, riveting the children with her voices and leaving them spellbound with her antics. Our children are captivated for a solid 5-10 minutes, which is an accomplishment for our four young children! Mom also has found some pretty good material, lessons on character development, complete with real-life stories to which the children immediately relate and Bible verses. The kids devour each one and love to guess at the questions near the end. I have had the opportunity to look over the material and have come to see in it another skill of my wife, i.e. resourcefulness.
Now I wouldn’t even dream of trying to compete with my wife, but I would love to think that I could make some contribution. Perhaps I could supplement the material and add one more character trait that I have yet to hear. And if I were (and a publisher was willing to listening), I would add a lesson on humility. I would approach it from this angle: how do we as parents cultivate humility in our children? I’m envisioning this being on the back of the story page written to parents how we might drive home the character trait. Of course, also, I would leave the story writing and reading to someone a bit more talented! But with that said, how would this “more for parents” section read? I’m humbled you would ask. Four things:
Pray for it – Many know what I’m about to say, so much so that many have already moved on to the next point. But this demonstrates my point, for if we pass up prayer, we may be forfeiting what we need most. The Scripture says, “we have not for we ask not” (James 4:2). This relates not only to our topic of humility but unto all the spiritual character traits we long to see in our children. Often times, when I find myself hitting a wall with my children’s behavior, it hits me a moment later that I am failing to pray for my children. Even more so, as parents, if we aren’t praying for our children, then really who is? But specifically related to the topic of humility, Paul says “the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Corinthians 10:4). The way we are going to address a lack of humility or pride in our children’s lives is to utilize the divinely powerful spiritual weapons of warfare. And if prayer isn’t a weapon to fight it, I don’t know what is. You know what I’m saying—Let’s pray for our children.
Model it – Model humility to your children. Many couples joke with each other as they see a particularly sinful heart in their child, and say, “so-and-so takes after you!” The joke is funny to a point, but that point often pricks our own conscience because it is true, we have passed sin to our children. We have done this not only through the stain of original sin, but the actual sins proceeding from it! Sin begets sin, and if we don’t deal with our own sins, we are passing them on to our children. But that’s where the grace of Christ comes in, not only forgiving us of our sins but empowering us by His Spirit to die to sin and live unto God. So, another way to cultivate humility in our children is by modeling humility for them. Say, the next time we, as parents, are called out on our sin (maybe even by our children), instead of blowing it off or blame-shifting, we be the man (or woman), humble ourselves, admit fault, and seek forgiveness! Perhaps instead of boasting about our strengths, gifts, or intellect, we boast about our weaknesses and in the cross of our Lord and give our children another example to emulate (2 Corinthians 11:30, Galatians 6:14). Through this and many other examples, our children will see humility.
Show it – To a point, we all are not only creatures of habit, but we are reasonable. God made us this way. One of the reasons our children are not humble but instead are filled with pride is because they think they are the best show in town and have never seen anything better. But that’s where we as parents show them something better, so much infinitely better—we show them the glory of God! Yes, take them to see God’s great creation and go with them on mission trips. But also, bring them to church and teach them at home about the greatest show of God’s glory, namely His Son, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to save us and has now been raised to the highest! In all this, they will begin to see something far greater than themselves to live for; and they, in God’s grace, will be exhorted to “no longer live for themselves but for Him who died and rose again in their behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:16). And guess what this yields? True humility.
But what if we have tried all these things and have been doing so without success for years? Last one, we Wait for it. This might be the hardest of all. But it is the most rewarding: “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” (Lamentations 3:25-26). May the Lord indeed hear our prayers, see our example, observe our laboring and our waiting, and not because of any of it, but only in line with grace given to us, be pleased to cultivate true humility within our children.