Developing Honor for Others in Our Children

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor ..." Romans 12:11

One of the most important parts of training my children has been training them how to relate well to others. While we all develop lists of hundreds of friends on Facebook and enjoy watching our Twitter followers grow, it seems to me that we have fewer and fewer real relationships of any lasting value. Part of the problem is that we've lost the concept of honor. When all is said and done, most relational problems boil down to this, don't they?  When we're focused on our own desires, ambitions and needs, we tend to offend and hurt people--often unintentionally.

If we want our children to have healthy, happy relationships both now and in the future, we can give them a wonderful boost in that direction by training them to consider other's needs before their own. "Give preference to one another" means just that--to consider others before and more often than we focus on ourselves. If you've spent any time with a toddler, you know that doesn't come naturally! Selfishness comes as a big part of our sin nature. And developing a preference for serving others takes much time and training on the part of parents, if it's ever to become part of the warp and woof of a child's daily life.

"In building relationships with our children, we need to consciously train them in the skills and attitudes that will enable them to sustain positive relationships. A person can only experience true intimacy when his heart has been deepened and exercised in real love and commitment. Consequently, an important part of deeply loving our children is training them to deeply love themselves and others. We train them by helping them to confront their own sin and selfishness and to replace these attitudes with patient and generous love. This provides them with something to give in a meaningful relationship and seals their ability to be the best they can be.

Relational training involves teaching our children the value of honor--giving worth to another person out of the dignity of our own heart. It often involves learning to reach out to others in practical, thoughtful ways and teaching them to be good friends. I have often said to my children, 'It is natural to be selfish, but it is supernatural to be kind and loving. It is only when we allow the Lord Jesus to speak with our words and use our hands and our voice to give His love that we can really know how to be close to others.'

This kind of relational training fits naturally into the course of a day. 'Sarah, let's surprise the boys with some cookies and hot chocolate!' As we mix the batter and talk about how much I appreciate her help, Sarah learns how to give away her love. The result (over many sessions of cookie baking) is increased maturity in her own ability to relate to others." ~from The Mission of Motherhood

What could you do with your children today to help them develop and display honor for someone?