Encouragement for Today - March 29, 2006
Encouragement for Today
“Making a Difference”
Marybeth Whalen, Author, Proverbs 31 Speaker Team Member
Mark 9:36-37, “He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the One who sent me.’” (NIV)
Recently I ran into my seventh grade English teacher while shopping at a local craft store. Though I had certainly changed since then, she had not changed a bit! After I identified myself, I shared with her that her influence had helped to shape who I became. “I’m a writer now!” I told her. “It was in your class that I first began to realize my love for words.” She smiled and told me that I had made her day.
In our conversation, I asked her about another teacher who had also had a profound impact on me. Mrs. Cook was my ninth grade English teacher and she had drilled us intently on the nuts and bolts of writing. Though our class hated writing papers week in and week out, I carried the skills she taught me through the rest of my life — using her teachings to write college papers and earn my English degree. Even as an adult, I still use funnel intros and transition words and think of her! Sadly, I learned that Mrs. Cook died just a few years ago. I wished I could have thanked her for equipping me for my future the way she did.
Just as Mrs. Cook never knew about her influence in my life, we may never know the impact we can have on the children God places in our lives. Whether you are a teacher, a mother, a church leader or a neighbor, you have the potential to impact a child’s life forever. If you are in the position of ministering to a child on any level — be it a grandchild, your own child, as a volunteer, a family member or friend, you are in an especially important role. You could be part of God’s plan to bring forth special gifts and talents in that child’s life. What an honor!
And yet, sometimes we don’t realize that honor we’ve been given. Unfortunately, society has perpetuated the image of children as cute little nuisances that must be tolerated, not cultivated. As they are shuffled from one activity to the next, it is rare that they are appreciated and treasured as the gifts God intended. Instead, the prevailing attitude is that they should be dealt with until they reach adulthood and can contribute on a tangible level. What a shame that we, as a culture, are missing it! We diminish or overlook the eternal value of helping a child find his or her calling.
Jesus loved little children. He stopped to minister to them. He knew the potential encased within their little bodies. He knew that the way He responded now could affect their future perception of themselves. His model is one I want to emulate with my own children each day. I want to foster a love of learning, to tap into who God created them to be, and to draw out their special giftings. I want to get them excited about their future—whatever that may be.
I can do this through my actions. Do I focus on my children, look them in the eye, and put them ahead of my “grown-up” pursuits? Do I make their interests a priority? Do I share myself with them? Do I talk with them and not at them?
I can also do this through my words. Has someone ever said something to you that stuck with you for life? That person may not have even realized that you were listening, and yet you find yourself still carrying their comment around in your heart. Sometimes these are negative comments and sometimes they are positive. Sometimes they build us up and empower us to tackle life — and, sadly, sometimes they cripple us, making us ineffective and unproductive. In all my love for words, I certainly have come to appreciate the power they contain! I cannot forget this fact when dealing with one of my children. I cannot rely on time to erase my harsh words. Though I can pray for God to bridge my unavoidable gaps and heal my inevitable mistakes!
I want to welcome the little children in my life and realize the impact I can have on one of “the least of these” in God’s kingdom. I want to know that God used me to help shape a child’s life. I want to appreciate what Jesus was saying to His disciples and walk it out in my every day life. What a wonderful world it would be if everyone could catch that vision and welcome little children as He did. I pray that we can all be intentional about doing just that!
My Prayer for Today:
Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to remember to treat little children with kindness and respect. Help me to see them as gifts, as You intended. Please open my eyes to the way I can minister to the children in my life. I want to make a difference for You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Is God bringing to mind a child that He would like for you to reach out to? Write down some specific things you can do to touch that child’s life in a big or small way. If you are a mother or grandmother, pray for God to renew your vision for the impact you can make.
Who are the children in your life? How do you treat them?
Have you adopted the view of the culture towards them? How can you make steps to have God’s view?
Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (NIV)
Luke 1:80, “And the child grew and became strong in spirit…” (NIV)
Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (NIV)
Luke 10:21, “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (NIV)
Don’t Make Me Count to Three, by Ginger Plowman
The Mommy Manual, by Barbara Curtis
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids, by Sharon Jaynes
The Heart of a Father, by select authors