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Parents, You Can't Forget to Celebrate the Little Things

  • Rachel Dawson What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
  • Published Oct 20, 2017

I’m a big fan of a good celebration. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries-- I love gathering together with my people and enjoying the occasion with joy, fun, and a whole lot of love. Even more so, though, I love celebrating the little things.

I love when coworkers are praised for a job well done, and we all get to applaud their hard work. I love when teams at church share “wins” from their ministries and we all get to rejoice at the ways we’ve seen God move and work in the lives of our congregation. I love when a family member shares good news about something that happened in their lives, and we all get to affirm and encourage them even more.

Celebrating the little things brings about even more good things in our lives.

Michael Kelley recently wrote a post called “Remember, Parents, You Cultivate What You Celebrate,” and even though I’m not yet a parent, I love his outlook on celebration.

Kelley writes about how changing the nature of our celebrations can influence entire organizations, teams, companies, and even families.

“People see what is celebrated, and they come to understand that these characteristics, attitudes, and actions are the most important thing,” Kelley says. “You cultivate what you celebrate. It’s true in larger organizations, and it’s also true in our own homes.”

I remember many celebrations from my childhood-- not all were extravagant (although my mom does plan a killer birthday party!) but so many were meaningful to me in lasting ways. We celebrated scoring goals in soccer games and gettin good grades in school, but my parents also celebrated when we did something particularly kind or responsible (what they called the “best” choice on a good-better-best scale). It was the latter that stood out to me more then and resonates more with me now-- the way my parents celebrated my character instead of just my achievements was powerful.

“It is good and right that we celebrate with our children when they achieve something in school, sports, or otherwise. But even as we make those celebrations, we ought to be asking ourselves whether our level of celebration is consistent with our true aim for our children,” says Kelley.

It should be our chief aim to value Jesus above all as we both grow personally and raise our children. We should be striving to glorify the Lord above all else, and we should celebrate the choices that do so. We should aim to live like Christ-- loving our neighbors, serving God, and building his kingdom in our communities-- and we should be affirming of our neighbors and loved ones when we see them being the hands and feet of Jesus.

These celebrations don’t have to be elaborate by any means, but the more we choose to celebrate the things that are edifying and glorifying to God, the more we cultivate them in our lives and the lives of others. When parents model this for their children, the ripple effect can be beautiful, creating a legacy that shines a light on who God is and what he desires for our lives.

If you aren’t sure where to start with celebrating these kinds of actions, attitudes, and choices, here are a few easy ways to begin:

  • Celebrate when your child chooses kindness with a friend-- when they share a toy, when they give a friend a compliment, when they do something generous or gracious. Affirm these actions and say something like, “I saw how you shared your favorite toy with your friend-- that was such a kind thing to do! I love that you are such a good friend!”
  • Celebrate when you see a loved one engaging with Scripture and prayer. This doesn’t have to be something showy, but it can be deeply meaningful to write them a note or a quick text to say “Hey, I saw you reading your Bible this morning, and I was so encouraged! The Lord sees you and delights in you as you spend time getting to know him better.” When you see your child reading their Bible or praying, be sure to give them praise and let them know how much you love seeing them live out their faith.
  • Celebrate when you see grace and generosity in action. When you see a neighbor mowing another family’s lawn, stop and thank them for going above and beyond. When the person in front of you at Starbucks pays it forward, do the same for those behind you, and maybe even take it a step further with an extra tip for the baristas. When you see your child do something extra around the house, or when you team up with them to do an act of service for another family member, be sure to affirm their actions and the heart behind them.
  • Celebrate progress in faith-- when your child memorizes a new Bible verse, when your friend joins a new small group, when your non-believing friend asks questions about God. Take a moment to share a few encouraging words with them and let them know you are alongside them in their journey and that you are proud of the steps they are taking.

It’s important that we change the nature of our celebrations away from our achievements and more toward the things that are glorifying to God and that represent Christ at work in us and in our children.

This is what Kelley says is one way to actually influence culture: “You lift up the people on the team who embody the right characteristics. You point out examples of the right attitude. You rejoice over the small victories that come in the right places.”

Celebrate the little things today (especially in your children), and in turn, you will cultivate the big, beautiful, important, God-honoring things.

Photo credit: Unsplash

Publication date: October 20, 2017

Rachel Dawson is the design editor for