January 13, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Character Counts ~ Part 2: Mining for Gold
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
It had been a hard day. Running too many errands with my boys had brought on feelings of frustration. It seemed like all I’d done was wipe noses and say no, one hundred times. Joshua didn’t understand why we couldn’t buy every toy in sight. The check-out lines led to more begging as candy bars and bubble gum jumped into their hands!
When we got home, the boys took a nap and I decided to read my P31 Woman newsletter. In it Lysa TerKeurst referenced a story from Zig Ziglars book, Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World. Ziglar tells about Andrew Carnegie, the wealthiest man in America in the early 1900s. Intrigued by the fact that Carnegie employed over 42 millionaires, a reporter once asked why he paid them so much money. Carnegie said, "Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold, but one doesn’t go into the mine looking for dirt — one goes in looking for gold." With this story, Lysa encouraged readers to look past their children’s mistakes and mishaps and look for the gold in them.
My toes were thoroughly stepped on! All I had focused on that day was the dirt. I wanted to be like a gold-miner, but how? What would the gold look like? As I thought about the gold I’d want to find in my children, character traits like patience, obedience and contentment came to mind. So I decided to make a list of golden attitudes and actions and look up Bible verses that emphasized them. As I thought about the gold in a person’s heart, I was reminded that each of us is created in God’s image. So the gold in my children would have to be a reflection of God’s character stamped on their hearts when He made them. Instead of focusing on what they did wrong, God was challenging me to notice and nurture what they did right. Wow, what a change in perspective! I remember wishing I had a gold-miner in my life. Gently God reminded me that He is a gold-miner. He’s willing to look past who I am to who I can become. I knew at that moment He was calling me to become a gold-mining mom. Just when I was ready to give up, God brought meaning in the middle of my monotonony!
That day was a turning point. My new meaning as a mom took shape as I intentionally pursued discovering and developing the gold within my kids. Just like a gold-miner, I knew I needed a plan and some tools. So, with my list of golden attitudes and actions, I created a character chart with 24 traits, a simple definition and Bible verse for each one, and a list of ways we could live out the traits in our family life. Each week we would learn about a new trait and look for ways to put it into action at home or at work and school. To give the kids some incentive, I made gold nuggets by balling up foil and spray painted them gold. Each time the boys would show compassion, obey quickly, share or show some other positive trait, I’d give them a gold nugget. We set up a system so they could redeem their nuggets for something special. A year later, we published the chart and started a ministry to encourage other parents to mine for gold in the heart of their children. Tomorrow I’ll share with you some of the impact we have seen on our children and practical ways you can make character count in your home. Get ready to find purpose in your parenting as you begin to mine for gold in your own backyard!
My prayer for today:
Lord, I am so grateful that you don’t focus on the dirt in me; that you look beyond who I am to who I can become. I want to become a gold-miner in the life of my children. Help me to look past the dirt and see glimpses of gold in them each day. Give me a new perspective and please remind me that like a gold miner, I may have to move through tons of dirt to find one ounce of gold. Help me to look for gold and not dirt, knowing the more I look for the more I will find!
Look for simple ways that your children show golden attitudes and actions. Give encouragement by telling them specifically what they did and why you appreciate it. Look for the little things like sharing a snack (generosity), putting away toys (responsibility), feeding the dog (initiative), concern for a friend (compassion), saying thank you (kind words). Be on the look out for those glimpses of gold and try to overlook the dirt (at least for a day).
What character quality can I live out today as an example for my children to follow?
Who in the Bible demonstrated a character trait that I want my kids to value?
When will I take time to read that Bible story with my kids and use it as a springboard for prayer as we ask God to make our hearts more like His each day?
What are two golden actions or attitudes that come natural for each of my children?
When will I tell them how much I value the gold I see in them today?
Ephesians 5:1a, Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering to God. (NIV)
Colossians 1:28, We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. (NIV)
Matthew 13:23, From the fruit of his lips, a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him. (NIV)
Job 23:10, When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps, I have kept his way without turning aside. (NIV)
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child ~ Character Chart, by Renee Swope
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child ~ Seminar Tape, by Renee Swope
Character Corner, It Starts in the Heart ~ directed by Renee Swope
Shaping Your Childs Character, written by Renee Swope
Focus on Your Child Website – a division of Focus on the Family
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids, by Sharon Jaynes
Originally published Tuesday, 13 January 2004.