Kids Say the Darnedest Things: A Six-Year-Old on God's Gifts
I have a six-year-old friend who says the darnedest things. While coloring in Sunday School last weekend she said, “God didn’t give me the gift of art. But he gave me other gifts.”
While on the outside I kept my cool, so as not to frighten the children, on the inside I was jumping up and down, waving my hands in the air, shouting, “This girl gets it! Praise Jesus. She knows who she is and whose she is.”
Here’s why this foundational truth is huge for a young mind and why all parents should impart it to their children:
1. She knows she has a creator. My young friend’s heart will rest and rejoice as she grows up knowing she was created on purpose for a purpose. She won’t spend her days untethered from her maker, wrestling with whether or not her life has meaning. What profound peace to know someone has designed her life, brought her to this time and place for a reason—that she’s on purpose.
2. She knows all that she has is from God. To know from a young age I can do this because God enabled me to do it will lead to a lifetime of contentment. This foundational truth will keep her from both self-aggrandizing and self-loathing. When she accomplishes something great she won’t be tempted to exalt herself and to walk in pride. And when she is unable to do something well (for example, art the other day) she won’t be likely to turn on herself and hate herself for her inability.
Knowing the truth of what Paul said, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7), a truth also found in Job 41:11, fosters strong security. She knows she was made by God, is in his hands, and all that she has is from him.
3. She will be inclined from a young age to use her gifts for worship. These truths will cause my friend to think God gave me the gift of being able to read and write. Why did he give me that gift? What should I do with it? What can I read and write to thank him? She is setup for lifelong stewardship of all that she has.
The opposite of recognizing that God is the giver of our gifts is thinking we conjure them up ourselves. In this paradigm a parent cheers, “You can be anything you want to be! Just work hard and the sky is the limit!” But this way of thinking is crushing. Boys and girls become oppressed by the need to be great to fulfill their parents out-of-this-world expectations. When we know that God is the giver, we look to him for help and direction for how we might best use the skills he gives us.
4. She won’t give up. Lest you think these foundational truths will make this little girl lazy (for example, I’m no good at art because God didn’t give me that gift, so I’m not even going to try) I have observed over and over the opposite being true. Both kids and adults who believe they were created on purpose for a purpose are driven to seek their creator in all things.
When confronted with something hard or uncomfortable, rather than giving up they say with the Psalmist, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). Their thinking is, if God made heaven and earth, and he made me, and he put me in this context on purpose, then he will help me and equip me to walk through it, to honor him in it, to thrive for his name’s sake.
Operating from this true and biblical perspective, we know that God grows us and changes us. He develops new skills and abilities in us. We know he is pleased when we offer him our best efforts, for his glory.
My little friend simply knows what’s true. Her parents have been careful with their words. Rather than saying, “Well done. You are so good at math!” They’ve said, “Well done. God has allowed you to work hard and succeed at math!” The first phrase isn’t true. The second one is.
Parents, we are building minds and hearts and theologies. We invest in worldviews and paradigms with every word we say to our kids. May we always speak truth. May we always be careful with our words. Each one really does matter.