by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
Heart: one’s innermost being; the moral as distinguished from the intellectual nature.
Before this month slips off the calendar all together with its celebration of matters of the heart, I’d like to recommend a favorite book of mine titled, It Came From Within! Written by well-known pastor, Andy Stanley, with the same inimitable wit and punch he uses from the pulpit, this book explores four negative forces that invade the human heart, anger, guilt, greed, and jealousy, and for which there are spiritual antidotes. His book is not difficult to read, but its impact can be powerful as he unwraps forgiveness, confession, generosity and celebrating another’s successes as defense against the four invaders. First published in 2006, this resource is still powerful today.
My main point, however, for drawing attention to this book is the chapter found near the end. Here Stanley applies his teaching primarily to parents: We cannot control everything our children experience, but we can influence how they process what life sends their way. We can teach them how to guard their hearts against the inevitable firestorms of life. No one impacts the health of a child’s heart like Mom and Dad. Intentionally or unintentionally we build into our children or we take away. This may be our greatest responsibility as parents.
When it comes to shaping our children’s hearts, modeling will always win out over instruction. They learn to manage their hearts by watching us.
Another section that Stanley develops is the value of a question. We convey to our children a lot by the content of the questions we ask. Are they primarily about practical matters like homework or chores or oral hygiene? Or do we find opportunities to ask about the state of their hearts? Here’s a sampling of questions that he chose from on a daily basis with his son and daughter: Is everything okay in your heart? Are you mad at anybody? Did anybody hurt your feelings today? Did anyone break a promise to you today? Is there anything you need to tell me? Are you worried about anything? Armed with the antidotes for the spiritual indigestion revealed by questions like these – forgiveness, confession, generosity and celebrating others’ successes – we can build health into the very core of our children’s beings, into their hearts. Thus they learn how to deal with what they do as they (and God) develop who they are.
He concludes Chapter 18 with: As adults, we have been instructed to guard our hearts with all diligence. As parents, we have been given the responsibility to teach our kids to guard theirs. If the heart of your child is important to you, ask your child about what’s going on in there. Teach your child to confess, forgive, give generously, and celebrate the successes of others. These are habits that keep a heart free from painful clutter. These are habits that will enable your child to develop a healthy adult relationship with you in the future. These are the habits that change everything.
I believe that sharing this material with someone will fasten it in your memory. It’s gratifying to realize how God will bless this. And it will do your heart good.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23