Over 25 years ago Gary Smalley and John Trent wrote a book that impacted my life, The Blessing.The book is still available in paperback form on Amazon along with a great workbook.
I first used the ideas from the book with the 6th grade students I taught in Sunday School. As they moved into the Teen Dept. of our Bible School program, we recognized them in a dinner with parents and elders in the church attending.
The concept the authors describe in their book is based on Old Testament blessings such as the blessing Isaac bestowed on his son Esau in Gen. 27.
A family blessing includes these components:
1. meaningful touch
2. a spoken message
3. attaching “High Value” to the one being blessed
4. picturing a special future for the one being blessed
5. an active commitment to fulfill the blessing
The first two items should be self-explanatory but the third one needs some explaining. Communicating High Value in this day of hyperbole and exaggeration can be hollow or sound insincere. Here are some tips:
1. Use an everyday object. The blessings in Scripture often sound strange in our 21st century world. Use something meaningful to the child considering his or her age – a favorite stuffed animal, a key, a pitcher.
2. Match the emotional meaning of the trait you are praising with the object you’ve picked.
3. Word pictures unravel our defenses. Jesus was the master at using word pictures — the Door, the Shepherd, the Vine.
4. Word pictures point out a person’s potential. Remember when Jesus called Peter the Rock?
When we honored our 6th graders at the dinner, we divided the students among our teachers. I chose a boy who was somewhat difficult to teach. He was smart and talented, but sometimes obnoxious and rude. I wanted to find just the right word picture to help him see himself in a different light. I finally settled on this idea:
Luke, I see you as the captain of a ship, a leader of your crew. You are a natural leader and can motivate your crew to follow you. Just as you can motivate, so you also can lead by the mood you are in. If you choose to be rude or difficult, your crew will follow you in those same moods. You have the power to change your own life as well as the lives you are leading.
It has been many years since I gave him that blessing, but I think I’ve remembered the words correctly. After the dinner, Luke’s mother asked me for my notes, and later she told me that the blessing was a powerful message to her son as well as to her.
When our daughter, Jennifer, turned 18 I wanted to give her a gift that would last and have a special significance in her life. I asked my brother David to make a chest, much like a Hope Chest or blanket chest that could store things. We worked out a barter arrangement, and he made this beautiful chest.
Since Jennifer was a senior in high school, I hoped this chest could store things important to her, but I wanted to give her presents that would last. We started a library of inspirational books with a selection of Max Lucado classics.
This is the card she found when she opened the chest. I don’t remember writing a blessing for her, and since she saved every scrap of paper, I’m assuming I didn’t write one. Looking back on her younger years when she suffered from a low self-esteem, I wish I had written blessings as she developed.
From my many years of teaching in middle school, I know how important it is for children and teens to have a vision for their future. They need to look beyond their daily life and envision themselves succeeding, accomplishing, and knowing there are adults in their lives who believe in them.
Do you need convincing that a positive blessing from parents is important?
All you have to do is remember the negative comments made to you as you grew up. Parents, teachers, scout leaders — their words imprint our memory. We don’t forget them. Were you told you were worthless? Were angry words thrown out at you like nasty dishwater? Sadly, the negative sticks to our soul far longer than the positive.
Monday’s post on potential led my thinking to today’s topic. Our children and grandchildren need to know they have potential. A blessing is putting that potential in a word picture that can be held. Hopes and dreams — every child has them but are they limited by the vision or lack of vision from the adults in their lives?
Is there a child or grandchild in your life who needs a blessing? Begin thinking about how to compose one. If you don’t feel adequate to write one, get the book or workbook from Amazon to get some ideas. DON’T WAIT.
Giving thanks today for:
- adults who remind the children and teens in their lives of their potential
- the examples of blessings found in the Bible
- the opportunity to see Jennifer stretch and grow as a young woman far beyond what she imagined
- nieces and nephews who are living lives of servants in God’s Kingdom and raising their own children to follow their King
Note to my regular readers: Tuesday for Teachers will take a summer break except for random posts. My plan is to write a post on Wednesdays since I seem to need a day between posts, hence Monday, Wednesday, Friday will be regular posts.