Approval in Family Children, Grandchildren, & Extended Family

Approval (Blessing) - Building up or affirming another person, particularly for who they are (as opposed to what they do); affirming both the fact and the importance of our relationship with another person.
(Ephesians 4:29; Mark 1:11)

Well, Isn't He Special?

Special Note:
Each child is a fruit of someone's womb.  Many, too many, do not have loving, godly adults to help them feel special - you know - like a "gift from the Lord".  Maybe that is what God wants us to do for children, whether they are ours as a couple or ours as a special agent of God's love to them.
If you have no children, the Lord Jesus may bring other children into whom you can invest.  We call these nephews/ nieces, neighborhood kids, etc. - "Children of Focus."
I have heard people sarcastically say, "Well, aren't you special!"   Usually stated in jest, this expression can be a dig at another person because they really "aren't all that special" or not special enough to deserve whatever reward or honor triggered the verbal volley.  Or it could even be a bit of jealousy or envy coming to the surface and falling off the person's tongue.
In the midst of our sarcasm and attempts at humor, one important truth to hold onto is this:  "A child doesn't need as much sarcasm as they do honest expressions of approval and recognition of his/her value to God and to us."
You and I may not have heard clear expressions of Approval in our earlier years, but I know this to be true:  We surely would have enjoyed receiving heart-felt statements of the high value God places on us regardless of ability, skill or talent.  Parents and other family are first in line to be in a position to communicate Approval to a child.  Besides family members, then friends, neighbors, church family, and others are welcome to join the chorus of Approval.
I am certainly not saying that we disregard a child's behavior or somehow communicate that any and all behaviors are acceptable.  A child's behavior must be recognized as worthy of approval and appreciation or not, and it must be dealt with accordingly via praise or discipline, giving or withholding reward.  This is part of the artful and skill-based privilege of making sure each child knows his or her value to God and to you as a parent or other caring adult.  Caring correction is another great way to help mold a child's character.
We want to learn and practice effective ways to communicate Approval to each child.
With children-as with adults-Approval can be communicated both verbally and non-verbally - as we discussed in last week's installment of the 52 Week Plan - Approval in Marriage.

Lord Jesus made it clear:  "...Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you." (John 12:35)
John spoke, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." (I John 1:7)
 So --- Let's Walk in the Light
THREE SOURCES OF LIGHT - Help Us Experience Approval in Marriage 
Light Source #1:  Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:32)
Walking in the Light:  Experiencing God's Love and Giving It Away (Approval)
Let's Walk in the Light of Fresh Encounters with Jesus
In many places in scripture adults are referred to as "children":  the "children of Israel", "children of God", become as "little children", "faith of a little child". There is something precious about the innocence and trust in children.  One of our favorite musicians, Michael Card, sings in Come to the Cradle: "the innocent, upward, trusting glance of a child". 
Jesus noticed and noted qualities of children that were worthy of His verbal and non-verbal expressions of Approval.  He said it out loud, he picked them up, and he allowed them to come close to Him so He could bless them. 
Even though most reading this are already adults, here is a question for you, Mr. or Mrs. Child of God: when He thinks about you, what feelings and thoughts enter His mind?  You may recall the amazing passage in Colossians 1:22 that we highlighted last week as we focused on discovering and communicating Approval to our spouse.  Would you mind revisiting God's attitude toward you....again? 
Just close your eyes and stand in Colossians 1:22 as Jesus has brought you to the Father, no longer as an enemy but now as a friend.  You and Jesus are standing there before the Father in His presence.  Jesus is holy and blameless.  You have been made and declared "blameless without a single fault".  Hallelujah!  Can you rejoice there in the light of Jesus and His love and the Father's acceptance, love, and approval?  Let joy and gratitude wash over you and through you!  Stand there in freedom and let the light of Jesus and this encounter with Him keep dark thoughts, feelings of worthlessness and failure away from you.  Experience in your thoughts and emotions what His thoughts and emotions are toward you. 
Why is it important for you and me to know Approval from God?  Well, one reason is that He does, and we might as well know the truth.  Another is that I can't give away what I do not realize that I possess.  I could have a bank full of money at my disposal, but if I am not aware it is there or don't know how to access it, what good do those riches do me?  Jesus told His disciples that what you "freely have received" you are to "freely give".  Please don't leave this place too soon.  Wait, I say, on the Lord as He makes real to you His Approval based on the declaration that in Jesus you are washed clean of sin, you are accepted, you have been given the mind of Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you, you have been given an abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness; therefore you are Approved as a "workman that doesn't need to be ashamed" as you experience and express "rightly dividing the word of truth". 
Bottom line?  Come to accept the truth as God says it not as you feel it at any given moment.  Our feelings fluctuate but His Word never fails!  In light of that, "Hello, __________(your name), it is my pleasure to address you.  I wish I could meet you now.  You are Approved.  I am Approved.  Let's go out and give away the Approval we have been granted.  Surely we can find qualities in our children worth commending, worth noticing, worth noting."
Light Source #2:  God's Word is a "Lamp and Light" (Psalm 119:105)
Walking in the Light:  Experiencing God's Love and Giving It Away (Approval)
Let's Walk in the Light of "Doing the Book"
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3
(Before we get too far into "Doing The Book" let me make this special observation.)  Even if you have no biological children of your own, may I ask that you consider "the fruit of the womb is a reward" still applies to you.  Even if you and your husband chose not to or are, as yet, unable to have children, those Children of Focus God sends into our lives, are "fruit of the womb".  They have been granted life and been born to a mother and father who may need your help to convey God's loving heart to them.  Those children may need a loving adult to "parent them" when their biological parents cannot or will not assume the awesome privilege and responsibility of meeting these and other needs.  These children have many needs and cannot meet their own needs.  I don't mean to minimize the pain of those who cannot have children and want them so desperately, but could it be that as you receive comfort from God and others He sends to bring His comfort,  you could become His ambassador to love an unloved child, to bring comfort to a child who has no one else to comfort him/her?
 I think 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says it well.
In light of this truth, please consider how much each of us needs to know the depth of God's care and Approval of us, whether we have or do not have biological children born from our union as husband and wife.
I know this is a new week and we are no longer focusing solely on our spouse, but do you mind if we stay with Colossians 1:22?  Join me in focusing both Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication to give approval to your children (Children of Focus).  In case it has been awhile or you have not seen our "Child of Focus" definition, we simply ask you to focus on a child or some children even if they are not your biological offspring.  If you have children, then they are your Children of Focus, but if not, ask God to send you some - neighbors, extended family, church kids, kids in a section of town into whom you can and will invest.  Children who need a loving adult are not hard to find
Just as we worked through this last week, so again "we cannot force ourselves to feel approved of or even feel approval toward others.  However, in the presence of God as His approval washes over you, there will be birthed in you such deep gratitude and worship that He will create in you His feelings and thoughts about your child/Child of Focus.  God loves and approves of him/her and of you too.  He sees value in each child.  I did not say He approves of every action your child performs.  He doesn't approve of every action you or I perform either, but God sees your children as unique creations full of potential for changing the world.   Our children/Children of Focus may never have books written about them or their accomplishments, but to God- and by His grace to us - they are those Psalm 127:3 precious gifts sent from God Himself.
I want you to find a way or two to demonstrate that you know your child has value, that you approve of who he/she is, and that you are honored to be his/her parent. Maybe you could become a better listener and make good, prolonged eye-contact when he/she speaks.  (Sound familiar?)  Turn off the TV, close the laptop/notebook/smart phone when she/he comes into the room and be ready to receive him/her with approving body language and physical touch.  Perhaps you could sit closer or invite him/her to sit with you on the same sofa or squeeze into the same chair.  You could even go outside on the deck or for a walk just because you value your child/Children of Focus and want uninterrupted time to show approval.
I want you to think about your child's character.  I didn't say that he or she "is a character".  We know that to be true with many of our kids and we love that ...most of the time.  For now, let's consider punctuality, neatness, organization, listener, creative, energetic, servant heart, hard worker, frugal, planner, detail oriented, spontaneous, fun, good personality, pleasant to be around, shares toys, completes chores, helps you, accepting of others, cautious, contentment, decisive, dependable, diligent, discerning, enduring, forgiving, faithful, generous, gentle, grateful, hospitable, self-controlled, or wisdom, etc. (see page 266-268 in the Intimate Encounters workbook if you have one). (Please see Resource section if you would like to purchase one.)
Think of 3 or 4 qualities and make a list.  Ask God to show you ways you may have missed communicating approval to your child.  What does he/she possess that you have overlooked.  Now think of ways to communicate Approval to him/her by writing a note, sending a card, planning a parent/child outing to do something he/she wants to do.  While you are out together or sitting together in a quiet time and place, reveal his/her qualities and how you have seen them.  (I have seen the way you are changing toward your little sister.  You are much kinder to her than before.  I am so proud of how you are helping Mom/Dad with cleaning up your room.  You are doing so well at being diligent to complete your chores on your list each morning.  It helps us so much when you are taking initiative to do things we used to have to remind you over and over.  Do you know how proud it makes me to see you show love to your Grandmother by talking to her on the phone and listening to her stories?  Etc.
In ways that perhaps you and I were not shown Approval in our growing up years, let's learn and show Approval to our children for the ways we see good character happening in them.  Let's affirm both the fact and the special nature of their value to us personally and to the family.  Let them know they belong and that you see their value!!!
Light Source #3:  Followers of Jesus are called the "Light of the World" (Matt 5:14)
Walking in the Light:  Experiencing God's Love and Giving It Away (Approval)
Let's Walk in the Light of Fellowship with Believers (especially our children)
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3
"Yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault." (Colossians 1:22)
 Though your child is not perfect, nor blameless in daily living, he/she is worth loving and approving.  His/her qualities of character and life should be noticed and noted by someone.  Perhaps you are positioned in the best spot to speak into his/her life and communicate approval and value.
Walk in the light of fellowship with your child/Child of Focus - if they are old enough to have this discussion.
1.  Have a Parent/Son or Parent/Daughter date and ask the following questions:
a.  Ask:  Could we read over the definition of Approval, and would you let me know if you feel that I approve of you?
  • (By the way, don't ask if you don't want to know.) 
  • Be ready to respond with an appropriate "thank you for telling me", "I really needed to know how you feel because I do approve of you and here are some qualities I see in you that I want you to hear", or "I am sorry you do not feel that I approve of you but I do and here is what I see in you". 
  • Note also that some children will think you disapprove of them when you simply don't disagree or won't allow certain behavior.  God's approval of us does not mean that He doesn't see when we disobey or are hurtful to others.  God's approval is based on the fact that we have received His gift of forgiveness in Jesus, but He still will discipline and seek to correct harmful behavior.  "Whom the Lord loves He disciplines". (Hebrews 12:6)  See also Psalm 139:23-24 !!
b.  Ask:  How can I let you know that I value our relationship and that I am glad God let me be your Dad / Mom and that you are my son/daughter?
Idea:  Occasionally, I will text or call each of my adult children, my daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and grandchildren to tell them how proud of them I am, to give them a quality I see and respect in them, and tell them how happy I am that God let us be in the family together.
c.  Ask:  Is there anything I have done in the past to communicate to you that I did not value or was not proud of being your Dad/Mom? 
This type of open, honest parenting requires the love of Holy Spirit.  He helps us to communicate Approval to our children, even when the behavior is rebellious or breaks our heart.  Even a child in rebellion can hear that we are honored to be their parent even though we have to discipline them for wrong behavior.
When you read Psalm 127:3 from now on, take the time to let God know that you now feel more like a gift.  You are a gift from Him and a reward to the parents He chose for you.  Whether or not they knew it, showed it, or even to this day realize what a special blessing you are, give God thanks for His Approval and His Joy over you.  Make sure that your children know it and feel it.  Do your best to let them now know of your Approval, whether or not you did a good job before.
More is at stake than you may know.