Gift giving to kids always fascinates me. There are the families who encourage their kids to ask for donations to charity instead of gifts for themselves. There are families who have a three or four gift limit. There are grandparents who shower kids in presents. There are uncles, aunts and friends who purposely seek out the most annoying gifts possible for your kids in order to amuse themselves.
My theory is that if you want your kids to reach their godly potential and become mighty men and women of God, there are special gifts you should give them. Don’t worry. Many of them are actually more fun than those plastic toys with a million pieces (although some of these are probably also plastic with a million pieces…). Yet these gifts have a secondary purpose. They are gifts that make your kids think or help them discover some of the gifts God may (or may not) have given them. Hopefully, they will point your kids towards who God created them to be.
So what are these gifts? In the list below, I have given you categories, but also a link to an example in that category to start your thinking. (I am not endorsing any particular company, brand or product including the website to which the link takes you. I merely want to give you a visual of the types of things I am suggesting.)
Global warming. Pollution. Renewable energy. Recycling. If you are like many, those words create a strong reaction in you. It may be positive or negative, but what does God have to say on the subject of ecology? What should you be teaching your kids? What, if anything, should you be doing with your kids to care for the earth?
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Genesis 1:26 (NIV) Inevitably, when talking to Christians about ecology, this is the verse that is first quoted. Ironically, I have heard it interpreted in two basically opposite ways – “dominion/rule also implies caring for something” OR “rule means we can do whatever we want – use it up/destroy it, etc”.
When talking with young adults who have rejected God at some point, there are two common themes. The first is usually that they did not see God making a positive difference in the lives of their parents. The other is that they cannot see God working in the world today, attributing everything that happens to luck or fate.
There is a fun family devotional you can do with your kids to help them begin to understand how God works in the world today. Read or tell your children two stories in the life of the prophet Elijah. The first is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal found in I Kings 18:16-45. The second is the story of God appearing to Elijah found in I Kings 19:9-18.
Talk about the amazing “big” way in which God showed himself in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Then discuss the “small”, gentle way God appeared to Elijah in the second story. Explain that sometimes people only see God when He does “big”, miraculous things. Tell them how God is sometimes even more amazing in the “small”, quiet things He does for us.
When adults think of God’s love for us, we immediately think about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. For young children though, those concepts are very abstract. It’s important they hear them even though they can’t quite understand it fully. When you want young children to understand God’s love for them however, you want to also use some very concrete things. Things they can see, touch, smell.
One of the best ways to explain to a young child about God’s love is to help them experience the great variety in God’s creation. Tell them the story of creation found in the first part of Genesis. Explain God could have created anything he wanted to create. He could have decided one kind of fish or tree or flower was enough for us.
Want to be inspired? Walk the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. As I walked 60 miles over three days, I met women who had every right to think of themselves as victims. They had survived a horrible disease that had ravaged their bodies. Yet, these were some of the most energized, positive people I had ever met. They refused to think of themselves as victims.
No matter what may happen to your children, the best gift you can give them is to teach them how to avoid thinking of themselves as victims. Victims get stuck. They don’t move forward. They don’t accomplish anything, because they are fixated on their pain. They surely, can’t reach their godly potential or accomplish the plans God has for their lives. They can’t continue to mature spiritually, because growth requires looking forward. Victims are stuck in the past when the hurt occurred.
In our society, people gain power and riches when they convince others they are victims. Then they can swoop in and “save the day” – often by actually victimizing the very people they are claiming to help. It used to be tough to convince people they were victims. Now we have a society full of them.