As adults, we have been talking about making plans for the new year. Maybe you have written down goals, or maybe you have just set them in your mind.
Whichever the case, we can all appreciate the benefit in setting godly goals and plans.
But can setting our hearts on things ever be unhealthy? Especially for our children?
|Lydia, age 7.|
I remember as a young girl of about five or six, planning my birthday party with my mother. Of course, type A personalities begin young, and before long I had planned every tiny detail. I could envision just how pin-the-tail on the donkey would go; I could see sweet conversations over cake. Presents. And just how I would graciously hand out the party favor bags to my excited guests. Yes, I replayed each scenario over and over in my mind until I had the party figured out just so. It would be the perfect day.
On the day of my party, everything was lovely. Weather is always a consideration when throwing a birthday party in early March, but the sun shone and we were able to enjoy the out of doors. We took turns playing pin-the-tail on the donkey; we had a lovely cake and visiting time. And all of the presents were a real treat. In fact, everything was going just according to plan, I thought with a satisfied air, as I strode into the house.
It was time to begin handing out party bags and I was going in to get them. I really looked forward to seeing the excited faces of my friends as I gave them their surprises. But as I entered our home through the sliding glass door I soon discovered that the party bags had already been handed out-- without me! It hit me like a crushing blow.
I remember approaching my busy mother in the kitchen. I can still see her today working hard at the counter wrapping up some last minute details. I asked in evident horror- just what had happened with the party bags. A tragedy had taken place- right under our noses!
She looked at me a little surprised and said that she had handed them out. It was almost time for our guests to leave and she didn't want to forget their gifts.
She assumed that answer would be alright with me. Well, she assumed wrong!
You see, the goal in my mind wasn't just that our guests would get a special gift bag. The goal was that our guests would get a special gift bag in just the special way that I had planned.
In that moment I completely lost focus. I was blinded by disappointment. In my mind- all was utterly ruined. And as I focused on all that was wrong, I completely lost sight of all that was right.
I had a dear mother who had gone to great effort and expense. I had sweet friends whose families had given a portion of their weekend to come and celebrate me. And I forgot that the goal was to bless our guests, not to get fixated on a specific plan. I even forgot to be thankful for the good weather and the sweet memories we had made earlier in the day.
I flew to my room and cried and cried (I know!). I am embarrassed to say that I did not even thank my guests or wave good-bye to them as they left. I was far too busy feeling sorry for myself and crying over how things should have been.
|Hailey, age 3.|
I suppose this story from my childhood seems a bit ridiculous now- and it is. And we all sympathize with my dear Mother, right? But the truth is, it is really easy to become fixated on our plans (even good and seeimgly godly ones) and lose sight of all else. Our children can easily fall into the same trap if they learn to set their hearts on things in an unhealthy way.
How do we help our children to embrace Plan B? To begin to say, "Thy will be done." rather than MY will be done?
IN OUR HOME
As we work through this area in our home- and work we must- these are some of the things we focus on:
1. Teach children about God's Sovereignty. We seek to encourage our children with Scripture that explains that only He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10); that He has a plan to work things together for our good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and, like in the Biblical example of Joseph, His plans are always better than ours. Through one-on-one discussions, we seek to use these truths to pry their little fingers off plans that are either too far away or not what we desire for them. For example, in situations where they want something that is contrary to Daddy's will, teach them to pray, "Please change either my heart or Daddy's heart" and then counsel them to let it go and trust God's plan. God is in control of the kings heart (Proverbs 21:1) - and Daddy's too.
2. Keep Children in the Word. Jesus said, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing... if you abide in Me and My Words abide in you, you shall ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit." -John 15:5-8 Our children need the Word. We need to begin to steer them toward seeking God's will and not their own. Yes, their plans may seem good- even godly- but they need to understand fruit is what brings the Father glory, not their plans. And that fruit comes from abiding in Christ and His Words abiding in them. As parents, we seek to find areas of struggle for our children and help them to memorize verses that apply to those areas. Verses like Phillipians 4:6- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
3. Share real-life examples with them. We are told that the Old Testament was written for our example (1 Corinthians 10) and that we might both learn and have hope (Romans 15:4). By reading the life stories of others, we can gain wisdom and determine the path we desire to take- or not take- to avoid foolish mistakes. In the same way, other real life expereiences- ours or the experience of others- can demonstrate either ways in which the Lord brought a much better result than what had been planned or ways in which setting our hearts on things instead of God's will brought misery. If we share real-life negative examples we seek to do this without names and with humility that our children do not begin to cultivate a "better than" attitude.
4. Teach them a proper way of looking at things. We seek to cultivate contentment by talking over ways to be content- truly we can choose to be content in all things: Our unique story, the family God has assembled (siblings and all); our homes, our income and so on. And- we seek to call things what they are. Little children may cry simply because they cannot get their way. In our home, we call that spoiled. And acting spoiled is against our rules. We are sensitive to the issues and will always listen to a tale of woe, but the tears must dry up and the little one must see if they are acting spoiled.
5. Pray. Oh- our children need prayer. This is not a flesh and blood battle (Ephesians 6:12) and the prayer of a righteous man, avails much (James 5:16). We must pray that God that God will be our help. Sin can be so desceptive and only the Lord can take blinders off the soul.
“Setting our hearts on things above...”
~ Colossians 3:1-11
Question: How do you help children to embrace Plan B in your home?