My Princess Be Valuable

Sweetheart, you need to make a clear distinction between being “beautiful” and “valuable”. I want you to be extremely valuable. Let me tell you why.

God created you to be protected, and as your daddy, it is my responsibility to guide you in paths that will keep you safe, even once you’ve grown into adult life. That’s why I want to explain the difference between being ‘beautiful’ and ‘valuable’.

Women Have Value

God created women to be highly valued. Women have great value and a godly woman is highly prized. The worth of a “virtuous woman” is more than precious jewels (Proverbs 31:10).

The objective of every young woman should be to rise to her highest value. I want you to be so highly valued that everyone recognises that you are among the most special women in the world. It is up to you to create and to maintain that value, so your husband, your children and all you come in contact with will know that you are a rare and most valuable person.

Beauty Cheapens Women

It sounds wrong to say that beauty cheapens women, but it proves to be true for many. Natural beauty, while it is a wonderful thing to have, causes a woman to be looked upon wrongly. A woman can have natural beauty, but also have an evil heart, a cruel tongue, a selfish attitude, an enslaved life and an unhappy future.

Yet if a woman has beauty others will give her credit for having character and worth, even if she does not have them. Lustful men will pay her attentions which will flatter her heart and give her power to manipulate others.

Beauty, on its own makes no guarantee of happiness, success, godly character, fulfilment or true value. That’s why I want you to focus on your value, not your beauty.

Proverbs warns us that “beauty is vain”, which means it does not guarantee anything. It has no lasting value in itself.

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she will be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Beauty must be a secondary consideration, not a primary focus or distraction.

Character Before Beauty

If a woman has beauty, but not godly character, she will be tempted to become vain about herself, thinking she has value which she does not have. Some women seek to make themselves look alluring to men, as a way to give themselves value. They think that if men look at them or lust after them their value as a woman is confirmed.

King Solomon makes it clear that a beautiful woman who does not have character does not have value, but destroys the potential value she should have developed.

“As a jewel of gold in a pig’s snout so is a beautiful woman with no discretion.” Proverbs 11:22

Ugly Duckling

You will remember from the delightful play, “Ugly Duckling”, by AA Milne, that the princess was thought to be plain to all except the one who was to be her prince. This is a very good situation to be in.

The Princess had been under a spell by a caring godmother, to look plain until her wedding day. This was done because the godmother “didn’t want me to grow up spoilt and wilful and vain, as I should have done if everybody had always been saying how beautiful I was.” “The best thing in the world was be quite sure of yourself, but not to expect admiration from other people.”

By being thought of as the Ugly Duckling, even though she was really quite beautiful, the princess was able to explore life without distracting concerns about her beauty, or of having to deal with shallow attentions from those who only saw her beauty.

The Prince saw both her beauty and the delight of who she was as a person. That’s an ideal situation.

Remember, you will only have one husband. He is the only one who need think of you as beautiful. If everyone else pays you no attention for your beauty you will be spared the process of being cheapened by the cheap self-interested attentions of shallow men.

Find Your Value

Girls who fear that they may not have real value will easily become sidetracked by their attempts to look attractive. They will focus on their external appearance rather than their internal worth.They will compare themselves with other women only in terms of appearance, not in terms of character.I don’t want you to do that. I want you to find your full value and live it to the full.

Find your value by being a woman of God. Be a virtuous woman, for there are too few of them. There are so few of them that all who fit that description gain the highest value.

If you find your heart being drawn away to thoughts of your own beauty or your power to attract  attention from men, then you are in danger of losing your true value.

Be a woman who fears God.

I have more to say about this topic, but I’ll save that until next time.

Note: These “My Princess” posts are for all those young ladies who are preparing for their adult future. I am writing them with my own daughter in mind, so they come from my heart and contain matters that I consider very important. Dads are welcome to use these articles with their own family, and young ladies are welcome to look for them to receive godly counsel they might not find elsewhere.

The Heart of Your Child

It is vital that you train the heart of your children. However it is popular to ignore this essential process and give in to shallow alternatives. Since many young parents have not thought these issues through I am penning these notes as a guide to parents.

The Heart of the Matter

The most important part of your child’s development is the training of their heart. While we may not be aware of what is going on inside other people, including our children, the Bible tells us that God looks on the heart.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7

God’s prophet, Samuel, did what people naturally do. He looked on external things. God accurately accused men of taking notice of external things – “man looks on the outward appearance”. That is why people have to take ‘first impressions’ seriously and why image is such a big deal for worldly people. It should not be so for those who love and follow God, but sadly appearance and image is a major focus of some churches today.

Since God looks on your child’s heart it is essential that you make it a key focus on your attention.

The Heart of Your Child is Exposed by What Comes Out

Jesus had much to say about what comes out of the heart. He said that we are defiled by what comes out of us. He then listed a bunch of things that find their source in the human heart.

“The words which come out of the mouth come from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” Jesus Christ, Matthew 15:18-19

Jesus is pointing here to both the words people speak and the motivations that lead them to do evil things. So wise parents will be attentive to the spontaneous expressions from their children and also from the behaviour patterns the children display.

A winning smile on the face of a child can be deceptive. Sweet words of promise and nicety may be a cover for wrong intentions. In the same way that adults can be expert at this level of deception, some children know how to play up to their parents’ expectations.

Key Lessons For the Heart

The heart is troubled by the presence of foolishness, which Solomon warns us is bound in the heart of every child (Proverbs 22:15). So it is important for each parent to respect the particular process that God prescribes for removing that foolishness. The prescribed process is to use the rod of correction on the child.

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” Solomon, Proverbs 22:15

Obedience is a key test of the child’s heart. If a child refuses to obey then they have foolishness. So getting the child to promptly obey the parent is a key heart training process. This involves them submitting to the parent’s authority. In that process they learn to fear the Lord, giving respect to God’s requirement that they obey their parents.

Games and Tricks Don’t Train the Heart

Some parents think that they are doing quite well if they get the desired action from the child. But it is not the action that is the most important. What is important, as we saw earlier, is the heart of the child. God does not look on the outward evidence but on the heart.

If you instruct a child to eat their food and the child is reluctant to obey, then a matter of the heart has been exposed. The child’s rebellious or independent attitude is a more serious matter than the nutritional value of the meal.

Many parents, however, become distracted with the external element, getting the food into the child. They can completely miss the much more serious issue of the child’s heart. Clever parents can resort to games to get the child to eat. “Let’s pretend that the spoon is a train and your mouth is a tunnel. Let the train into the tunnel.”

Such games may be fun, but they set the parent and child up for future pain. The child’s heart is left in a rebellious state, even though all the food is eaten.

The same is true when a parent tricks a child into doing the right thing, or fitting in with the parent’s plans. Games and fun, cute as they may be in the hands of clever parents, have no place in testing or training the child’s heart.

The most mature and complete heart training is evident when there is every reason to disobey or to get away with doing wrong, and yet the person insists and persists in doing what is right.

Tough Choices Make for Strong Character

When parents rescue their children from tough choices they undermine the child’s character. Tough choices make for strong character.

The child who must stand by his post, while others get to do fun things, or taunt him, or who is otherwise suffering in order to be there, will develop much stronger character than the child who is given every opportunity to cheat on their character.

False compassion can prompt some parents to remove the tough choices and hard situations from their child’s life. Such emotion is called ‘false’ compassion because it is not true love at all. It masquerades as compassion but it harms the child, so it cannot be real love.

You are Allowed to Play Games

Please note that I am not saying every moment of your child’s life should be a tough moment with tough choices. There is plenty of room for fun, games and play. You are welcome to play ‘aeroplanes’ and fly the food into your child’s mouth or to make cleaning up the room into a fun race against the clock.

The tough choices are made at strategic moments and are then built upon. But once the tough moment is past it is time for celebration and enjoyment of life. The problem will come when your child is never challenged to learn and their heart is not trained.

Insist that they Learn

Parents, be diligent to ensure that each of your children has learned to obey you, to submit to authority and to fear God. You will need to remain attentive to their heart, through what they say and how that is backed up by the attitudes and actions.

Insist that they learn the lessons. Don’t give in, just because they are crying, or complaining. There is much more at stake than their temporary responses.

Disappointed Children

What do you do when children are disappointed? How do you solve their upset if you have let them down in some way? Should parents placate an upset child? Or is this a place for tough discipline? What is your solution?

Children Face Disappointments

Every child faces disappointments along the way. They may want you to be excited about something and you are unimpressed. Maybe you’ve seen or head it before. Maybe it just doesn’t seem important to you. Maybe you think it’s a bad thing altogether.

At other times your child may have special expectations of you which you fail to meet. You might forget a promise you made them or forget their birthday or something special to them. They might catch you out showing favouritism to someone else or being more interested in something else than them.

You may not buy them the present they have asked you for or you just may not have the finances, talent or skill to meet the needs they believe you should meet.

After all, parents are only human, aren’t they? So parents are going to disappoint people, including their spouse and children. So parents bring disappointments into the life of their children through the years.

What Disappointment Does

The Bible teaches us that disappointment has emotional impact. When an expectation exists and it is not met the experience is called “hope deferred”. That is to say that the thing being hoped for has to be put on hold, either temporarily or permanently. The Bible tells us that facing that kind of disappointment makes our heart sick.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

Being ‘sick’ in heart involves the emotions being pained. And since all the issues of a person’s life come out of their heart, having a sick heart can be quite serious. Let me show you how central the heart is in life’s journey.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

So, to make the point clear, disappointment challenges our emotions and that is dangerous, because if we respond wrongly our whole life can be affected. That’s why it is important for parents to take the issue of disappointment very seriously.

Mind you, husbands and wives, friends and associates all need to be attentive to the issue of disappointment. What I am applying here to children works the same in us all, young and old, in and out of the family.

Wise Responses

The first wise response from parents is to see the disappointment. The worse thing you can do in a case of disappointment is to ignore it or fail to see that it is there. If you allow disappointment to go unchecked and unaddressed then you leave the child with a ‘sick heart’ and vulnerable to unwise responses which create ‘issues’ in their life.

Most people are carrying ‘issues’ around with them that have come out of wrong heart reactions to things they experienced in the past. If you help your child deal with disappointment you will not only save them from developing a life issue from the case in point, but you will help them learn skills for resolving other issues that come up along the way.

The next wise response is to nurture the child’s heart. Remember that it is ‘sick’. The child who is feeling ‘hope deferred’ is not trying to be difficult, but is struggling to deal with internal responses that they may not want. They will be contending with hurt feelings, frustration, anger, resentment or other dangerous reactions which spring up within them due to what they have been through.

If you act in anger, using your authority to punish them for struggling with pain, you will only compound the problem.

Nurturing the Child’s Heart

If a person is feeling hurt, rejected, unloved or disappointed they will most likely be helped by a healthy dose of loving care and affection. They will benefit from any reassurance that they are loved and valued.

An apology is a good start. This shows the child that the parent did not intend to hurt their feelings. It teaches the child that we can all take responsibility for our actions, which is something you will want your child to do too.

As mentioned earlier, nurture is not achieved by being angry or reacting negatively to the child’s hurt feelings. You are going to be their parent for the rest of your life, so why in the world would you want to make a difficult situation worse? Surely you will want to build quality bridges into your child’s heart, forging a strong, life-long bond of affection and care.

So go ahead and nurture that relationship. Take care to build those bridges. While your child is feeling a little raw and sore their feelings are more easily able to be spoken into. Cold, unfeeling children are harder to build close relationship with than those who allow you to see their emotions. So capitalise on the soreness that they are feeling to touch their emotions and link their heart with yours.

Hold Your Ground

Another important thing for you to do, that will greatly benefit your child in the long run, is to hold your ground. Some parents feel they have failed if they upset their child. Those parents may go out of their way to placate the child by giving in to the child’s demands. This is not healthy for the child.

If you give in to your child’s upset feelings you teach your child that they can get their way by expressing emotion. You are training them to sulk, cry, complain, exploit and give in to hurt, and so on. Such processes do not work in the real world. So don’t lead your child into lifestyle habits which set them up for failure and further pain.

Responding properly to life’s disappointments is a skill we all need, for we will continue to face our share of unhappy moments. Anything can turn out to be worse or less than we wanted, from the weather to our health, or the performance level of others, or ourself. A mature person handles those disappointments with purpose and wisdom. You want your child to be a mature person, so help them face the disappointment and come to terms with it.

Don’t crumple in the face of your child’s disappointment, but show them how to embrace their situation, even though it is less than they want.

Coming to Terms With Disappointment

In order to resolve disappointment a person needs to work through the various feelings which erupt from their chest. So coming to terms with disappointment is a tailor-made process, customised for the child’s individual emotional responses.

Some children readily become resentful. Others embrace despair. Some feel worthless and rejected, while others retreat into their own world of self-reliance. There are many possibilities.

A wise parent will seek to understand the issues emerging within the child and then escort the child through the appropriate steps to resolve whatever that is. I suggest that my Steps to Release, which I discuss in other posts, will help.

Certainly forgiveness toward those who let the child down will be important. Accepting their lot, even though it is less than they wanted is also important. Repenting of wrong reactions is also very valuable. So too is expressing faith in God, recognising that God knows the end from the beginning and can be trusted to sort things out, even if they are disappointing.

Deal with Disappointment

The bottom line is that parents must be ready and willing to deal with the disappointment which they create in their children. But remember not to respond with intolerance, anger or frustration at your child’s hurt feelings. Instead, help the child deal with their personal struggles so they grow strong in facing this reality of life effectively. God bless you as you do.

Youth Plants and Builds

Today’s pop culture acts as if youth is the time for indulgence, independence and unbridled pursuit of self-fulfilment. That idea is not only a deadly and useless one, it is a modern notion that defies the time-tested ideas of youth as a vital time to plant and build.

Let me take you back to some concepts of youth from yesteryear. Three thousand years ago King Solomon instructed youth to give special attention to God. The fear of God is something Solomon saw as vitally important for youth.

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth..” Ecclesiastes 12:1b

Solomon dedicated the book of Proverbs to his son, giving abundant sound advice about the pursuit of wisdom, avoiding fools, keeping away from immorality and so on. The best kind of youth is first established on the fear of God and a desire to go God’s ways and fulfil His plan for our life.

Another concept from yesteryear is that of ‘sowing and reaping’. What you sow is what you reap, according the both Biblical wisdom and human experience.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows is what he will also reap. For he that sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh; but he that sows to the Spirit will reap life everlasting from the Spirit.” Galatians 6:7,8 (Apostle Paul)

“For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorn bushes, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.” Luke 6:44 (Jesus Christ)

Trees take time to grow. What starts out as a small plant becomes, in time, a huge tree or a dense bush. When young people plant things in their life they may not see the consequences for a decade or two. Initially there is no evidence that they will have any bad outcome. But if they have planted thorn bushes and brambles, they cannot expect to harvest figs and grapes. What they sow is what they are going to reap.

So take note of this quote from this important eighteenth century American writer, Thomas Paine. Paine wrote many things that were central to bolstering the revolutionary cause and maintaining commitment during the long and wearing struggle for independence.

“Youth is the seed-time of good habits”, Thomas Paine, ‘Common Sense’ 1791.

Youth is a time to plant. In fact, youth is the time when planting happens, whether the youth realise it or not. They are planting character and sowing seeds for harvests to be enjoyed throughout their lives. Time well spent and choice seeds sown in youth will provide much to draw from in later years.

Another historic reference point for the importance of youth is the idea of building things for the future. A notion which was popularised in Christian homes in recent centuries is that of our life being a house which we build when young and have to live in for the rest of our lives.

Just as a young man growing in frontier territory must learn the needed skills to build his own family home from raw materials, so too, he must learn to build his moral character to be strong and independent of outside influences.

This concept is given attention in Ralph Moody’s stories, “Little Britches” and “Man in the Family”. Moody explains, “My goal in writing is to leave a record of the rural way of life in this century, and to point up the values of that era which I feel that we, as a people, are letting slip away from us.” (Quoted in New York Times Book Review Aug 6, 1967). Consider the following quote from “Little Britches”.

“…you have injured your own character. A man’s character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn’t do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth.”

In Moody’s short story, “I Meet the Sheriff” a lad must act responsibly, or face his father’s accusation that he is “running away from the law and tearing boards off my character house”.

Youth is a time to plant and build, in the fear of God. Wise youth follow God’s instructions, are attentive to what they allow to take root in their hearts and minds, and they discipline themselves to learn the skills required to build strong character, even when the raw materials are hard to come by.

I exhort each young person to consider your creator and live in the light of His searching gaze. Plant wisely and guard against wild seed being sown in the soil of your life. Build wisely and learn the disciplines that empower you to build and re-build again and again.

God bless you as you do.

Designer Parenting

Before you buy your child designer shoes, brand-name outfits and custom built toys, be sure to get them plenty of Designer Parenting. Your child deserves the best, and you are the most ideal person to give them the personalised, customised, purpose-built parenting that money can’t buy.

How do you do it? I’m glad you asked.

First step is to make it your aim to be a “professional parent”. Top designers are experts in their field and they study their craft. You too can become a professional in the arena of parenting by studying what God has to say about parenting. Dare I suggest that you read my book, “Parenting Horizons” as a worthy start?

This first step will build into your thinking the principles that apply to all effective parenting. You will discover the appropriate wisdom for guiding your child toward the outcome that a professional parent expects.

The next step is to realise the uniqueness of your child. Every family with multiple children demonstrates the uniqueness of each child. Despite the similarities in their upbringing children in the same family express diversity of personality, interests, talents and problems.

Now, how do you know what your child is like? The Bible has an answer to that.

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work is pure, and whether it is right.” Proverbs 20:11

As you observe your child and what he or she does you will be given insights into their personality, strengths and weaknesses. Designer Parenting involves you being attentive to the design requirements your child’s particular personality suggests.

For example, a child who tends to be bossy will have special design requirements in the parenting program you apply to their life. A child who is insecure will have other unique needs. A child who tends toward being angry and unforgiving needs special input to ensure they become free from those particular qualities.

Designer Parenting is like a customised fitness program designed for your particular needs. Such a fitness program takes into account the strengths and weaknesses of your physical frame as well as your general level of fitness and health. You cannot provide your child with Designer Parenting if you do not properly assess what their special design requirements are.

One of the issues I cover in “Parenting Horizons” is that the ‘Punishment Must Fit the Crime’. What that refers to is that your response to wrong behaviour from your child must be designed to make a change in their behaviour. If it makes a change then it ‘fits’ the crime. If it doesn’t make a change then it is the wrong fit.

If, for example, you have a standard response to your child’s wrong behaviour and that response does not make any difference, then the punishment does not fit the crime. Punishment fits the crime when it effectively changes the behaviour of the child.

Designer Parenting is attentive to how the child responds to the discipline regime which is applied to their life. The parent’s response needs to be measured to the appropriate level for the child and the child’s response to that input.

Let me summarise what I have said. You owe it to your child to be a professional parent who creates a designer parenting program for them specifically. Designer Parenting for each of your children will take into account who they are and what special needs they have in their personality. It will also be attentive to how the child responds to the training and discipline you provide.

A professional parent is ever ready to modify their responses to each child, so the appropriate ministry, discipline, encouragement, relationship time, and so on, are poured into the life of each one. Designer Parenting is an exciting interaction between parents and children that keeps the relationship and the process fresh and dynamic. It brings wonderful rewards and produces godly children.

I wish for your children that they have professional parents who provide them with the wonderful Designer Parenting that God plans for them, through you.