In the process of helping our children discover their value we have first addressed the issue of the Performance Lie.
Tip 1: Don’t make the grade the goal
Tip 2: Celebrate failure…sometimes
Tip 3: Discipline out of love, not anger
Here’s the scary truth. Children will model what we do more than we tell them. They are observing how we approach life and view people, and they will follow suit.
You can tell them their worth is not tied to their performance, but if you treat others with less respect when they don’t live up to your expectations, then your children will follow your actions, not your words.
In the middle of winter when it was -30C we would take youth to the inner city to walk around old abandoned warehouses, looking for people who might have overdosed and could freeze to death. We had a Salvation Army captain showing us around the area. Along the way I heard a couple of youth joking about and laughing at a drunk person they saw on the street and was concerned about their lack of concern.
As we were driving in the inner city, the Salvation Army captain noticed a man who was intoxicated staggering along the street. He pulled the van over, got out of the vehicle and walked over to the man. What happened next was a lesson I hope our youth never forget. The Salvation Army captain treated the man as if he was the image of God – because he was. He was not condescending, but treated the with the uttermost respect. He eventually helped him into the van so that we could drive him to a warm shelter to get food, a shower and a good night’s sleep. The youth were deeply impacted. I was deeply impacted.
That one display was far more powerful than any teaching time I could have had with the youth. It was love in action. It was unconditional respect displayed before their very eyes. What we say to our children will only have impact to the degree they see it lived out in our lives.
That means I want to be careful about:
How critical I am of others
How judgmental I might be
How I diminish people – even if they cut me off in traffic
How I withhold love if others don’t treat me the way I want to be treated
How I beat myself up when I fail to meet my expectations
How I avoid issues out of fear of failure
How I avoid conflict
These are all things I can change. I just have to notice when I am doing them. It doesn’t mean we have to be perfect – that will never happen. But if we can identify when we are buying into the performance lie, we can then repent of it and start living differently. In fact, living this transformation out in front of our children can be very powerful. They will see what you were before, and the how you choose to live now. That lesson is invaluable.
Children’s’ value should never be equated with their performance. It is embedded in them from the moment they are conceived until the day they die. Their value is always full and complete. The only thing that can change is their “perception” of their value when they buy into a lie.
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)
Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
When the Apostle Paul wrote these words he wasn’t being arrogant, he was expressing a life truth. People need a visible example of how to live in order to see how to change. Paul would be the first person to say he wasn’t perfect, but that didn’t stop him from trying to be an example to others as he strove to be like Christ.
Jesus is the ultimate example. Paul radically shifted his life to align more with Jesus and the change was remarkable. It’s this focus of imitating Jesus that Paul is ultimately pointing us to. Be like Jesus, with the help of Jesus. The more I focus on him, the more like him I will become.
It’s a scary thing to ask our children to imitate us. But the truth is, they are going to do it whether we like it or not. So instead of shying away from our role, we should embrace it more consciously and intentionally. We can start to think about and change the example we are setting before them.
What dysfunctional behaviours am I currently modelling to my children? Are there ways I have been modeling the performance lie that I need to change – starting now?
Do I need to rein in my temper?
Do I need to be more encouraging and affirming?
Do I need to take more risks myself in life and not be concerned about failure?
Do I blame my lack of joy and peace on others and my circumstances or do I assume responsibility for my life?
Do I lose gracefully and celebrate the victories of others? (Yes, this applies to you hockey fans too)
Do I feel I have to control or strive for anything out of fear of not having a full life?
Am I quick to forgive or do I hold on to resentment?
These are all astoundingly hard to change on our own. But when we turn to God for help, his Holy Spirit will start that transformational work within us. He wants nothing more than to shape you back into the image he originally created you to be.
If we can show our children their worth is written in stone and completely set apart from how well they perform, we will save them from a life of stress, driven-ness, fear and insecurity. They will be free to to embrace any challenge and to enjoy life as it comes to them. What an incredible gift we can offer our children.
All Posts in this Series
Developing Your Child’s Sense of Worth: Defeating the Performance Lie