A while ago, a friend of mine got me thinking about the importance of helping my kids grow in favor with God and with men. Luke 2:52 says “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.” The original Greek word used for “favor” in this scripture is charis which, among other things, means grace or that which causes favorable regard. Jesus grew mentally and physically, but he also grew in the spiritual capacity of grace and being regarded favorably by both God and people. This scripture tells me mental and physical growth milestones aren’t the only ones I should be concerned about for my kids. Just like Jesus, they also need to grow in favor with God and with people.
How do we help our kids grow in this sort of favor? I’m sure there are many great strategies, but here are just a few ways my husband and I help our kids in this area:
- Communicate the Objective Clearly. When we sit down to dinner and my kids begin to complain about the vegetables on their plate, my husband and I are quick to tell them it’s important to eat vegetables because they help us to grow big and strong. Proverbs 29:18 tells us people really need to have an end goal in mind in order to thrive. So, whether it’s encouraging our kids to pray or helping them to read and understand the Bible, we’re always sure to throw in an explanation of why we’re doing something. It’s the same in their interactions with people. When we direct our children to say hello to someone or to be kind or to share, we follow up with a conversation about why we encourage them in these behaviors. Let’s be real – “because I said so” and “because it’s a house rule” are phrases that will always exist in our home. But we try to have more moments of communicating clear objectives so our kids develop a sense of focus and feel gratified when the objectives are eventually met.
- Encourage Engagement with God & with People. In order for our kids to grow in favor with God and with people they need to engage in relationships. This means teaching them they are worthy of connection with God and with people – even when those people are adults. We encourage our kids to pray, to worship, and to talk about God. We ask questions about how they perceive God, what they think about him and what they think he thinks about them. All these things help our kids to seek God and build a relationship with him. Favor travels via relationship, so spending time talking about how to build relationships with God and people is vital. We encourage our kids to engage with people – both young and old – by empowering them to be kind, honoring, servant hearted, empathetic and pleasant. Interaction with all sorts of people builds confidence in our kids and they begin to perceive themselves as influencers and problem solvers. This is the very reason God gives us favor with people – to give us access and influence for the Kingdom. If our kids are to be world changers and innovators for God and mankind, they have to be able to flow in favor with God and with people. So we encourage them to engage in relationships.
- Train & Discipline Toward the Objective. The Bible says to train up a child in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6), so my husband and I are deliberate about training and disciplining our kids in such a way that they will be positioned for favor with God and with people. This means things like saying hello to people when they enter a room or a conversation and looking people in the eyes when they speak or are spoken to. Our kids have been taught, from the womb, to be cordial and interactive with others – even when they’re having a “bad day.” We teach them to acknowledge the authority of teachers and other adults in our families and communities. This doesn’t mean we ignore “warning sensations” around strangers, strange behavior or strange situations, but we don’t allow fear to dictate our parenting plan or to rob our kids of opportunities that will win them favor. There have been timeouts in our house for bad attitudes. There have been lost opportunities because someone didn’t want to share or help another person. We believe that boundaries such as these help our kids to learn the process of growing in favor with God and with people.
Favor is something that will serve my kids every day of their lives. Knowing how to walk in favor creates opportunities for them in school, in their social circles, and eventually in the workplaces they will join. So, just like nutrition and education, we’re focused on it – helping our kids towards it every way we can.