I can still picture the hallway in my high school where I stood in full costume and make up. We had just finished opening night of a high school production of You Can’t Take it With You, in which I had played the family’s maid, Rheba.
(How I remember that, I have no idea.)
As I stood with the rest of the cast members to receive kudos from our friends and family, I saw my parents walking toward me. I hugged them both and remember distinctly my mom’s words: “I am so proud of you!”
It probably wasn’t the first time she had said it to me, and it wasn’t the last, but it was the first time her words had really sunk in—my mom was proud of me. After weeks of rehearsals, memorizing lines, and fighting opening night jitters, nothing could have meant more to me in that moment.
She had noticed.
Today, if you attend a high school play, a child’s musical event, or even a three-year-old’s first ballet performance, you’ll see most parents holding bouquets of flowers, some tied with a balloon or even a teddy bear. And we all know about trophies—do I even need to go there?
(Let’s just say I was rarely the flower-wielding mom at my children’s performances.)
We live in a culture that rewards the smallest of accomplishments because we think that’s what affirms our kids. We’re so concerned that our children will grow up with low self-esteem that we lavish them with rewards meant to be praise.
But in my experience, rewards are temporary affirmation. Flowers die. Trophies end up under the bed. Blue ribbons shred after a while.
What really matters, I think, are the words we speak into our child’s life.
David knew this. He spoke significant words of affirmation into Solomon’s life, and I believe it made a huge difference.
Last week we talked about some encouragement we parents can gain from David. But now I want to turn to some ways we can encourage our kids by reading what David said to Solomon as he was about to take the throne.
“Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him you will find him. But if you forsake him he will reject you forever. The Lord has chosen you to build the Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”
1 Chronicles 28:9-10
Want to affirm your kids? Maybe start right here. David gives his son, Solomon, a word of wisdom, a caution, and a charge.
First, David encourages Solomon to never forget where he’s come from—a family that knew God intimately. It’s important to remind our kids of the heritage of faith from which they come. Even if you don’t have such a heritage, it’s important to remind them of what God is doing in building your family to know and follow him today.
David also tells Solomon the attitude with which he should serve: “wholehearted,” and with a “willing mind.” David knew from experience that the trappings of power and wealth would try to pull his son away from serving God fully, so he encouraged him to be completely devoted to God, fully committed, always working hard for the kingdom.
In the middle of these verses of wisdom and encouragement, David cautions Solomon to keep going, keep serving, keep following God because without that wholehearted commitment, it would be easy to fall away from his faith. David reminds his son that God knows “every plan and thought”—there’s no escaping from God’s watchful eye. And he warns Solomon that rejecting God comes with some dire consequences.
Parents, its our job to warn our kids of the danger of rejecting God in their own lives. It’s serious, scary business, but it’s so important.
Finally, we get to my favorite part of these verses as David reminds Solomon: “The Lord has chosen you to build the Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” David, as a parent, helps shape Solomon’s vision for the future and encourages him along the way. He tells Solomon that God has called him to do some really important work—to build the temple. And then he gives his son a little kick in the butt by saying, “Get going! Do the work.”
What if we, as parents, pointed out the attributes we see in our kids and encouraged them to use those gifts for the kingdom? It might look something like this: “God has given you this amazing creativity. What can you do to glorify God through your art?”
Or, “God has made you sensitive to others. Do you think you could help him by helping others someday?”
Or, “You have so much athletic ability. God has made you so fast! How can you use that ability to show others the power of God?”
We have to show our kids that they aren’t here to take up space. Any gifts, talents, or abilities they have are from God to be used for God. Let’s affirm those gifts and encourage our kids to use them for the glory of God.
Each week for the next few weeks I'll be looking at David's words to his son. I hope you'll join me! Why not sign up for email updates? (Just click "Newsletter" below.) Or find me on Facebook or Instagram? I'd love to see you there!