I have to tell you a great story about the power of our words and about how the potential of our influence on the generations that follow us is absolutely limitless.
Back in early December, a gentleman came into my office asking for some ideas. He and his wife were hosting their kids and grandkids for Christmas and, as a loving grandfather, wanted to think of some way to make their time memorable and significant. His wife had heard me do a children's sermon the Sunday before about the little town of Bethlehem having a big part to play in the Christmas story, and he thought there might be some way to tie that in...but he just wasn't sure.
I encouraged him to gather his grandchildren around and take a moment to speak a word of blessing over each of them. He thought that was a pretty good idea. We shook hands, said goodbye, and I didn't think about it again.
Last week, he sent me the following note. I must confess that I got a little misty-eyed as I read it.
Hope you are doing well. I wanted to follow up with a report on how our family Christmas went this year.
Christmas 2011 was going to be different for us since two of our three grown children and 8 or our 10 grandkids were going to be with us for Christmas Day in Atlanta. This was unusual since most years they were either out of the country or visiting their in-laws for Christmas. It was to be an exciting event for us in the Greene household.
We didn't want to let the event pass without a special Christmas Spiritual emphasis. We had done this when our own kids were growing up but it had been a long time since we were all together at Christmas and we were looking for something that would be meaningful for all of us. My wife, Sylvia had heard your Children's Sermon in church about Jesus being born in the small town of Bethlehem. She suggested I talk with you about it and get some ideas. You were most helpful and I appreciated your help and insight.
On Christmas morning, we called all the grandkids together and began by the oldest grandchild Parker, reading the Christmas story-----he first read it in English, then in Spanish, which he speaks fluently since living 10 years in Guatemala, where his parents started Young Life in Guatemala City. That was a big hit with the kids. We then told the story about Jesus coming from Bethlehem-----a tiny, insignificant town with nothing really going on. Yet, the King of Kings was born there! As you did in the Children's Sermon in church, we told them that although they may feel small and insignificant, they are certainly significant in the eyes of God. They can say a word or take a stand for Christ in school, on the baseball team, wherever they may be, no matter their size.
The kids were getting a bit "antsy" by this time, eager to get into their presents, but the best part was about to happen. I told them that just as God has given us Jesus as a gift, He also gave each of us individual gifts that are special and can be used in the lives of others. I went around to each child and told about the special gift that their Grandmother and I have seen in them--------the oldest grandson has the gift of fairness and a sense of doing things right----he shows this in the way he treats his parents and his brothers. Next was the oldest granddaughter, Sarah, whose gift is a kind and loving heart for people-----all who know her say this about her.
By the time I had finished with the second child, I noticed that the "antsiness" had gone-----they were all on the edge of their seat to see what I was going to say about their gift. It was a real time of encouragement for each child---they loved the positive words about them as a person. Our seven year old Katie was wide eyed when I told her she would be a great mother some day because she took such good care of her little dog, Pepper. She loved it.
After talking about each child, we ended with a short prayer and then got on to opening the presents. It was a great time for us as parents and grandparents and I know it was meaningful to the grandkids as well.
How awesome is that? I love it!
Parents, don't ever think that your influence decreases as your kids (and grandkids) get older. It doesn't decrease...it just changes. Be sure to seek God in how you can "roll with the changes."