We know our children will interact with both kind and harsh people, but when they face the latter, it’s hard.
Last year in first grade on the walk home from school, my daughter, Brooklyn, said that a boy at school was mean to her. My defenses immediately sprang up. Mama Bear silently held back and listened.
Brooklyn was playing with her friend, but when she told him she was leaving to play with her girlfriends, he rejected her harshly. He kicked mulch at her and yelled, “I don’t like you and don’t want to be your friend anymore.”
Brooklyn was partly upset, but then a look of confidence emerged from her sweet, little face. She said, “Mommy, I walked away from him because I know I am clothed with strength and confidence and that God loves me.” As I was partly shocked by her response, I beamed as I took in her words.
The Proverbs 31 “Wife of Noble Character” story from my devotional had settled deep into her heart. That day at the playground, the words of clothing ourselves with strength and confidence in the Lord armed her and the Lord made her strong. While my daughter was still upset, she was able to move past the hurtful words because her confidence was not in the boy at the playground, but in our great God who thinks the world of her.
Believe me, episodes don’t always end in this way and many other times she’s wept in my arms.
But if we can teach our children when they are young to stand out from the crowd and that their confidence lies in God and not others, they will hopefully be more equipped to stand strong when they do face tougher peer pressure.
Putting our confidence in the Lord is a daily choice we all face – one that I continue to pursue. Jesus’ words in John 5:44 inspire me to do just that: “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.” Jesus also said in Luke 9:5, “If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet…”
When our kids face harsh people, how will they respond?
Jesus always spoke truth to people and didn’t worry about man’s approval. He loved the outcasts, overturned tables in the temple, stayed focus on God’s will regardless of the harshness around him, and never wavered in his faith, confidence and purpose. Jesus simply didn’t care what others thought of Him. He was the greatest example of being humble, yet confident.
What will our kids, and us for that matter, do when others try to sway and intimidate us? I am inspired by men and women in the Bible who set their confidence in the Lord and not people:
Esther stood up to Hamaan, and saved the Jewish people;
Even though Naomi urged Ruth to leave, she stayed. From that secure choice, Ruth married Boaz, and Jesus came from their lineage;
David did not succumb to a bully intimidating him – he confidently proclaimed that he came in the Name of the Lord and prevailed;
Deborah defeated the evil Sisera because she chose not to run away from a scary, unknown situation, but to bravely trust God;
The “crippled woman” staggered to the front of the synagogue while Jesus preached, ignoring the critics and she was healed by Jesus;
Because Jesus wasn’t swayed by people, he was able to fulfill his divine purpose of being Savior of the world.
I assume fear crept into their hearts at times, but they chose to trust God and be brave. I don’t think bravery means never experiencing fear, but rather walking forward in faith. Do we want fear or bravery to drive our choices?
Do we want our children to have courage to stand out from the crowd and follow Jesus? If so, let’s instill the truth in our kids that our confidence comes from God, not others. While there’s no easy formula, we can arm them with words like Jeremiah 17:7: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.”
Our children will then know that their worth is not dictated by others’ opinions, but on the immense love Jesus has for them.
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