Kids need their parents’ approval. They need encouragement. Security.
But they don’t need to grow up watching their parents live as if the approval of the world is of great importance.
New International Version (NIV)
10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
So how do we raise kids who are secure enough to walk around in public with their pants unzipped and leave home each day without looking in the mirror?
Maybe the first step is to commit to redefining “image”. What do others think of me vs. what do others think of my God. Sure, we can dress in Iron Maiden and Metallica shirts just to avoid the cookie cutter church guy image (but that qualifies as image management that should be avoided). And when we do something nutty in public, and our kids say, “Dad! What are people going to think?”, we can fire off that we don’t really care what people think. We say we don’t care what people think, but do our actions really portray a life that revolves around pleasing God or trying to impress man.
Ultimately, parents need to consistently model for their children, a life of obedience to God. Not a life where anything less than perfection is considered failure, but a life that displays daily choices and actions that paint a picture of surrender. Peace comes from God’s love and living to please Him. Choose daily to love others (not just the easy-to-love folks), serve others, give up our own selfish desires, and seek the character of Christ.
Just a few simple suggestions or at least some things to think about before our kids freak out because they can’t find a boyfriend or girlfriend at age 15 or post a selfie on Instagram that gets 100 likes (or whatever Instagram pics get?) And why should anybody listen to me? Because I have two boys (14 & 8) that have never combed their hair. That pretty much qualifies me as an expert in leading children down the path of “I’m not real worried about what anybody thinks of my appearance”.
1) Don’t complain about doing a good deed and not receiving praise or recognition. You might be doing it for the wrong reasons.
2) Do look for opportunities to praise and encourage others. Pride fools us into thinking we are deserving of gratitude and recognition. We can’t demand these things but we must give them to others.
3) Serve others. Put others before yourself.
4) Don’t obsess over appearance (your own or your childrens’). Avoid phrases like, “you’re not going out of the house like that”. If their tail is clean and proplerly covered and their teeth are brushed, they are ready to face the world. God doesn’t judge us by our neatly combed hair or having clothes that match. Kill the “what will people think” mentality, early and often.
5) Don’t play the fairness card. Don’t even talk about it. “If I do ___ , I deserve ___ . ” “I’ve done twice as much work as my brother so I DESERVE _____ .” Another part of the battle with pride. Kids need to learn to do the right thing without reward. Life’s not fair so suck it up, and all that great stuff our kids hate to hear.
6) Love unconditionally, just as God loves us. Appearance and performance can’t be viewed by children as a measuring stick of our love for them. We love who they are and not how they look or what they accomplish.
7) Don’t use overkill with the word “pretty”. Beauty is on the inside. Make sure your kids know it.
8) Always be mindful of making choices based on the management of your image. Am I trying to impress man?
The only “what will people think” that matters is “what will people think of my Lord because of the way I live my life”? Can I influence them to follow who I follow? Am I maintaining an image that influences others in some way that helps them find their identity as a servant of Christ?
You don’t have to like my hair or clothes, but on my worst days, I can’t do anything to turn someone away from my Savior.