SERIES NOTE: This is a recurring series of posts on parenting skills based on biblical Proverbs
Trust matters and we know it. Teaching our children whom to trust is crucial!
My wife and I own a business doing team-building and communication enhancement with corporations and non-profits. The goal is improving the dynamics and functionality and pleasure of working together in an existing team. And we often introduce activities and discussions about trust because of how important it is to a team. It is always interesting to see how trust and/or a lack of trust is displayed during these activities. Blunt statements. Hesitant responses. Pleadings to be trusted more fully or quickly. Those who go ‘all in’ easily.
Our children must learn healthy trust and the discernment of who they should trust as they move from childhood to adult life.
Children quite naturally trust their parents from birth. At first it is instinctual response to those who are protecting them and providing basic care – feedings, reassuring them with physical loving expressions, cooing and talking to them, etc. And most kids will pretty easily trust their mom and dad in lots of ways. They believe they’ll be caught when they’ve been tossed in the air. They jump off the truck, poolside, or monkey bars into parents’ arms. Trust is pretty natural to kids toward those who obviously love them.
But without training, misplaced or misunderstood trust can cause those same children we love to be harmed, confused, and angered.
So whom should our children trust?
What character qualities or positions in a community merit trust from our kids?
How do we teach them discernment of people and their motives?
Well… there are lots of great answers to that. Perhaps it will constitute a whole other blog series.
But… to start: teach them to trust God.
His motives and character are pure. Period. There is no guesswork involved. No testing needs to occur.
Solomon taught this plainly in Proverbs 3:5-6. It is a passage often quoted.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Trust in God must be full-bodied, unhesitant, and complete; ‘with all your heart.’ This calls out for a full commitment. It is impossible to reach the other trapeze without releasing the first one. And Solomon was reminding the ‘young man’ he was teaching that generations before him had fully trusted God and were the beneficiaries of his love, rescue, and protection repeatedly! For a young man in that age, this call would have echoed the lives of Caleb, King Hezekiah, and others who had also been challenged to trust God ‘with all their heart.’
The calling to trust God is a matter of committing one’s life to God’s care and leadership. It is a smart and reasonable belief that God is smarter, more informed, more loving, and rightly motivated to lead my life.
And verse 6 points to the practical steps of this trust. ‘Acknowledge’ God ‘in all your ways.’ With each day and all your habits, there are ways to notice, recognize, and respond to all the proofs of God’s existence, power, and activity in and around our lives. The NIV Study Bible has a note on this phrase to explain it: “Be ever mindful of God and serve him with a willing and faithful heart.”
And the ‘making of our paths straight’ encompasses the actions of God to remove obstacles… to bring us to our appointed moments and accomplishments… and to help direct us to take those paths that God knows to be the ‘right ones’ in the first place!
Trust can be built. Trust can be eroded. We must help our kids learn the factors of life and characteristics in people which point to levels of trustworthiness. But to leverage the trust they have in us, their parents, into a trust in God who is ever and always trustworthy in every way – that is a privilege and will have a lasting impact on their lives!