Shaping Your Child’s Image of God

As I prayed and pondered the beautiful life growing in my daughter’s womb so much began to well up in me! So many things I wanted to share about my Abba and his care for her!  So I began to write Letters From Papa. 

The nurture and love of both of our parents set the trajectory of what we believe about God’s character. I hope this letter encourages all of you parents and grandparents as you sow into the souls of your sons and daughters.

My Lovely Daughter,

A soul needs to be built — it doesn’t just happen on its own, it’s not an automatic biological function. It is the Lord who builds a child’s eternal soul-personality and he does this largely through her mother.

There are many building blocks to make a healthy soul in your childlike trust, self-awareness, boundaries, forgiveness, self-esteem, motivation, stress tolerance, empathy, personal responsibility, resilience, and courage. All of these dimensions of your child’s personality and well-being come from her image of God. Your child’s image of God is the most important aspect of her identity and life.

How can your child develop a good image of God? How can she come to trust that the Lord is wonderful, mighty, and gracious?

You might think that Bible-teaching or church attendance are the keys. They’re certainly very important but they’re not the foundation.

Contrary to what’s commonly thought, our image of God is not primarily our concepts or ideas about God, nor our religious doctrines and creeds. It’s not about our theology but our knee-ology, what we feel about God in our heart when we pray. Your child’s image of God is her gut-level, relational experience of what God is like.

You might think your child’s relationship with her father is the source of her image of God. It’s one source, but psychological research actually shows that children’s relationship with their mother has the most influence on how they imagine, trust, and relate to God. Probably this is because mothers carry children in their womb for nine months, give birth to them, and usually spend more time with them than fathers in the first months and years of their life.

Long before modern science, Jesus knew that maternal care was deeply embedded in a right and healthy image of God. He learned this first of all from his experience of being well-loved by his mother Mary and then from learning the teachings of the Old Testament which often refer to motherly care shaping our image of God (Deuteronomy 32:18; Psalms 17:7; 22:9; 57:1; 91; Ruth 2:12; Isaiah 48:15).

So the Lord Jesus says to your child, “Like a mother hen with her chicks I long to gather you under my wings to care for you” (Matthew 23:37, paraphrased).

In light of all this, I pray that as a mother you will earnestly seek to be Christ’s ambassador to your child, ministering God’s motherly care to her. Devote yourself to this mommy ministry in all you do for your child: feeding, dressing, changing diapers, bathing, rocking to sleep, watching, playing together, reading stories, going places, comforting hurts, teaching, affirming gifts, disciplining, saying you’re sorry, repairing after conflicts, and encouraging.

As you do your humble best you can count on God being the Perfect Mother to your child.

Love,
Papa

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Listen to the companion Soul Talks podcast: Letters From Papa, where Bill & Kristi share more of Bill’s letters to their daughter and granddaughter.

 

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