“The most important work you’ll ever do will be within the walls of your own home.”
I hand wrote this exact quote on the back of our front door. I’ve had it swirling around in my mind for two years and wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to put it.
I knew we needed it front and center and chose a place where I would see it often, because although it’s not scriptural it is Biblical.
I truly believe this quote doesn’t just pertain to those of us with children, but really anyone living with another human being in a “home”. If you come into contact with someone daily, you have the ability to impact them. Doesn’t matter if you are the grandparent raising a grandchild, siblings growing up together, the only child of a single parent or someones roommate.
Even if you live alone you can still make an impact.
You can make a difference in at least one person’s life each and every day.
You see, I have battled with what my purpose is on this earth. I think everyone has at some point. You can really pinball around this life until you “figure it out”. If you ever get the chance to do so, sadly. A lot of people struggle with whether or not they are using their degree, got the right degree, fulfilling a purpose, making enough money so they can help more people. None of this really matters if you are missing the mark of your ultimate purpose. You could have your dream job, making a decent living and be thriving all-around. If we are not regarding our fellow humans we are greatly missing the mark.
I think in the grand scheme of things we forget just how important our real relationships are sometimes.
The good news is that The Good News is a picture of your purpose. Even if you can’t figure out what major to choose or whether the job you’re currently at is a final destination, you can still live with purpose.
If you’re not sure what The Good News/Gospel is then check out this quick spoken word video by Propaganda.
When you get to know Jesus you don’t have to really figure anything out because He guides you along the narrow path. He is the one that shows you what your purpose is, where it is and WHO it is because He created you specifically for it. He gave you the very life and breath you have to accomplish the tasks before you. This is crucial to remember as too often distractions come along tempting us to detour off course.
And those distractions come knocking on our door every day, oftentimes cloaked in a pretty disguise.
Money, opportunity, more influence, fun, fame, accolades, material things, the deceiving darkness.
Pilgrim’s Progress paints this picture so clearly for us. As we walk through life’s valleys and mountaintops barely making it through another day, we just need to keep our eyes above the storms around us on the One who holds it all together.
I still have days where I struggle with what my ultimate “job” is. I love being a teacher….it’s really the best job in the world and I’m always so glad I chose that as my profession. But, each placement I’ve been in has had it’s struggles and stress. I have still always battled this feeling that I’m on a continual journey, moving along toward something else. Something better. Something different. Something easier. Something even more impactful. Something…
I often have such a desire to do more than just teach in a classroom or work with young children one-on-one.
Being able to use my creative abilities to make and do and build and write and draw and letter and mentor and help….brings me joy and life.
Am I always just going to be a ____________ (fill-in-the-blank)? And is that my ultimate purpose? My influence is significant, but is this it? Will I do anything else? What if I don’t want to ______________? What if I’m done with that for right now? Do I have to use my degree just because I have it? Can I use my degree for something else or should I abandon it altogether? What about changing my mind or going down a completely different path? What else is there?
This thought process can start to feel like we’re spinning on the merry go round of confusing life questions.
It’s funny how when you trust, obey and submit to God’s economy He just works everything out for His good. And as I forged on in my different teaching placements I began to realize that I might not even see the effects of the positive influence I was having on my kiddos lives as they grew and moved on. In the depths of my heart I knew that God placed me with them for a reason and a season. And that He could use that influence in ways I could never even begin to fathom.
Our ultimate purpose? It’s to share the good news with those we come into contact with every day. Spread the love that Jesus so freely offers and the transforming, healing, powerful mercy He extends.
Through that we have an opportunity to be His hands and His feet. Being quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19).
Sometimes I hear people mumbling about not having a big enough influence. Not having the following they need to make an impact. Being heard by only a few each day. Pining for more of a “following” just to say they have “x” amount of followers.
Worse – not feeling important, worthy, seen or valued. Feeling invisible. Being bullied. Ostracized. Deceived. Depressed. Alone.
All of this pain might stem from you growing up in a broken home or a situation that scarred you so deeply…trauma that has left you damaged, bruised and betrayed. The wounds that have been left behind will not heal without the deep love of Jesus. He is the only answer for all of it. Alcoholism, mental illness, depression, anxiety, addiction, abuse, trauma…He took all of it upon Himself on the cross so that you and I could lay each burden we face back down at His feet.
God created you on purpose for a purpose. You have extreme value to Him, because He knit you together Himself. He knows the hairs on your head and every single thing you struggle with. His love is so deep and so wide for you that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to die so that you and I could live.
Such a reckless, redeeming love.
Do you know just how important you are? How about the significance of your “tiny” influence? Do you realize that impacting just one life in a positive way is incredibly powerful?
Your influence was strategically designed.
Not everyone is meant to be Fred Rogers for a reason. Take a step back and think about the mother who raised him….how much power and influence did she have? I’d say just as much as Fred Rogers himself. Except she was in the background. As she was raising that little boy she probably had some really hard days, but she pressed onward to raise a son who was kind, loving, disciplined & strong in his beliefs. What a legacy she left behind.
That’s powerful stuff.
Your sphere of influence is right in front of you. If you want to see more of something in the world, then be it and exemplify it.
Even if especially if you didn’t have it growing up and you don’t see it around you. The world needs more goodness, kindness and love.
The world just needs Jesus. Desperate times call for desperate measures and his name is Jesus.
We might not reap the rewards of our influence in our lifetime and that’s ok..it’s not about us anyway. Be kind so kindness grows, do something nice for someone so it spreads, be gentle during chaos, seek joy amidst the storm, love in spite of shortcomings, serve one another, be the iron that sharpens your brother or sister in Christ. We shouldn’t do these things so that we get accolades or praise, although those are nice, but we do it all to fulfill our purpose in Christ.
If you’re a teacher it’s the children in your classroom. If you’re a doctor it’s your patients and their families. If you’re a waitress it’s your customers. If you’re a hairdresser it’s your clients. If you’re a police officer it’s the people you are saving, arresting, and monitoring. If you’re a coach it’s your team. If you’re a leader it’s your team members. If you’re a husband it’s your wife. If you’re a wife it’s your husband.
And if you’re a parent it’s your children.
As a parent…your main, most important influence is your children. What we sow in our homes we will reap [Proverbs 11:18, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:9].
This is so profound to me. So profound that it makes me emotional. There are many children right now desperate for love, a hug, a kind word, structure and discipline. Desperate to hear that they mean something, that their life has value and that they are important. Desperate to have people step in and take away the technology. Desperate for real conversation. Desperate to be shown how to seek God in this crazy life.
Desperate for someone to model and exemplify what is being required of them.
Every popular icon and infamous person had some semblance of a family unit. The difference between a psychopath and a solid member of society stems all the way back to their upbringing. The early years of their childhood so impactful, it was part of what shaped them into the person they became.
Turns out children really just need stable, loving, present adults in their life who will guide & discipline them. Find the balance between grace and law, enabling and averting, being too liberal or too authoritarian.
If you’re a parent your work starts in your home. Your influence is the little people who need so much of you and that impact can have a tremendous ripple effect. Either positive or negative.
Your home can be a haven or hell.
Let’s bring heaven into our homes.
Children need to have important conversations at home FIRST before they ever hear a buzz about it on the bus. They need to have a safe space for open communication and questions. They need to know that home is a place where they can bring up hard topics and that their parents won’t shy away from that. If they don’t talk about it with you they will find some other avenue to learn about it. Their must be mutual respect. If you as the parent made a mistake that they are aware of…own up to it and ask for forgiveness. And then when it’s their turn to do the same they know what that looks like.
Just because we are the “adults” doesn’t mean we have everything figured out. Quite the opposite. I know I have to rely on Jesus for everything and I get my example from Him. Behavior makes so much more sense when you see it modeled successfully.
Be the place they can run to when they are confused and back everything you say up with scripture.
Children also need to be let go after they are trained. They need to know that you trust them to make good choices and if they don’t – they need to feel comfortable enough to come home and discuss the real heart issues of the matter. Get to the bottom of the decision. Talk about the mess. Figure out the why.
Tenderly lead their heart to Jesus.
There’s a whole web of reasons as to why a person chooses to do something. Get to the heart of the matter. A great book that will guide you on this is Shepherding a Child’s Heart. This book gave me a whole new perspective on my relationship with my son. Other good ones: Parenting with Love & Logic and The Five Love Languages for Kids. I could go on and on here about great books to read in regards to rearing the children in front of us. Settle on one, read it and apply it. Give it some time and really dig deep. You might even have to get out of your own comfort zone.
Scripture is clear about how to train up a child and how to live a life for God. Proverbs is insanely packed with wisdom. It can be quite uncomfortable to read with them if it’s something you need to work on too. That’s good…it means that you are being convicted and you are allowing God to grip your heart. To clean out those dirty crevices that have gotten filled with junk. Make it a family goal to work on that one Proverb that is intimidating, taunting and tugging at your hearts.
I can’t wait to delve into Proverbs with my son. I know that God will reveal things for me to teach him, but I also know that I will continue to learn so much as well.
Shut down the social media stuff. Quit comparing your skills to others and look at those precious children God placed in your life.
Get back to the basics of focusing on your child as a whole. Love them but don’t forget to discipline them. Do kind things for them but don’t forget to teach them responsibility. Fight for them but don’t enable them. Guard them but don’t over shelter them.
You don’t need to have a Facebook, instagram, twitter or snapchat to reach and teach people. You just have to start with your sphere. Your circle. The people around you. The ones that have been entrusted to you.
Be a listener.
Be an advocate.
Display, model and talk about these things. Walk the walk first. It’s not enough to demand a child obey a command you can’t follow through with yourself. Pray for wisdom, grace and give it all over to God. He designed the family unit, and although everything in our culture is tearing at the seams of that, Jesus can and will hold it altogether.
A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Jesus must be at the center of a family unit in order for it to thrive…not just survive. Storms, trials, traumas, despair are all inevitable but we can somehow still have joy knowing that Jesus is above all.
Get excited about the influence you have today! If it’s not going well continue to pray for healing and submission; obedience and return. Pray hard for your prodigal & your own heart too. The Lord is working behind the scenes. He’s fighting the battles we can’t and carrying the burdens that are too heavy for us to bear. Put on the full armor of God. Press in to Him today and watch what He can do.
Your influence is so powerful. And it all begins in your home. So go ahead, be the change you wish to see in the world and watch how far your ripple goes.