My son went to church camp last week. At seven years old, it was his first extended stay away from us (an entire week), and his first time traveling alone. While I was anxious about him traveling so young, he was so excited about going to camp and even more pumped up when he got back. Of course, once we loaded him in the car, we immediately began drilling him with questions. What did you do? Did you meet any new friends? Did y’all go swimming? What kind of Bible study did you do? What were the cabins like? Did you shower every day? We (well mostly, I) barely gave him time to breathe as we peppered him with questions during the ride home.
One of the activities he mentioned they did was to put labels on a cross. Having no clue what he was talking about, I probed him further about what that meant. He said they had to write down all the labels they felt defined them and stick them to the cross to represent the freedom God gives us from labels.
Given that he’s only seven years old, I didn’t think he would actually have anything to write down so you can imagine my surprise when he began telling me about the labels he’d listed.
How had I not known he felt this way? How could a child so young be comparing himself to others and feeling less than? I mean, I know what it’s like to deal with labels. But my kid? The one I’ve called my warrior. The one I read daily devotionals with and remind that he can do all things through Christ. This isn’t supposed to be.
It was a blow to the gut, but it was also a reminder that as parents we must be extremely diligent about guarding the hearts and minds of our children.
The devil would love nothing more than to take our kids down with labels, but we don’t have to let him. We must…
- Be diligent in covering our children’s hearts and minds in prayer.
- Be diligent in asking God for the discernment to know when our children are dealing with something.
- Be diligent in checking in with our children and desiring to know and understand their heart.
- Be diligent in affirming our children and highlighting their strengths and abilities.
- Be diligent about instilling into our children God’s words about who they are in Christ.
As I learned this weekend, it’s never too early to start.