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By Dannah Gresh, founder of True Girl 

Read: Ephesians 2:1-10

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so he can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

When my daughter was nine, she went on her first missions trip to Zambia. God opened her eyes there to real need. Not, “But mom I need it” when she was hungry for a candy bar at the grocery store, but “Oh, mom! They don’t have any food” in an orphanage where babies were crying from hunger.

When she returned, she recruited an entire neighborhood full of girls and started a fundraising project. She and her friends would sew bandanas for dogs and sell them at the local craft festival. My office was home to a gaggle of girls for weeks who left sewing threads and fabric scraps that surely must be embedded in the carpet to this day. They raised hundreds of dollars and sent the money to Africa to help.

My baby did something “good.”

Robert Coles, a pioneer in the field of moral intelligence, brings clarity to the definitions of goodness and badness when he writes:

  “good…[children]…have learned to take seriously the very notion, the desirability of goodness—living up to the Golden rule.”[i] Whereas bad [children] display a “heightened destructive self-absorption, in all its melancholy stages.” In essence, we go bad when “we lose sight of our obligation to others.”[ii]

Goodness is the quality that makes us put others ahead of ourselves. It’s the moral compass that keeps the world safe, happy, and working. It’s the drive that makes us want to function in families rather than isolation. It’s the internal road sign that takes us away from our own desires and toward the destiny of meeting the needs of others. Without it, we are “bad.” That’s probably why all of us–male and female—are called to goodness.

God is good.

The ultimate reason we must raise our children to be good is that it reflects the character of God. God’s goodness is a bedrock truth of Scripture and an inseparable part of his character. If we are to be a picture of Him, we must possess goodness. He is good not only in a general sense, but he is good TO us and FOR us. This element of his character expresses his selflessness and desire to exist on behalf of others. When people are good they act TOWARD and FOR others, as opposed to losing sight of others as their own needs and desires consume them.

Of course, our children embrace being “good”, if they see it in us. I’m constantly having to beat my to-do list in to submission so that I can have the flexibility to meet the needs of others. It’s not easy in our culture to have space in our lives to care for each other, but we must.

Let’s pray today that God would grow goodness in our children. And let us be willing to be an example of it!

Prayer For Our Children Based On Ephesians 2:10:

Lord, you created my children. It is not difficult for me to see that (insert their names) are masterpieces crafted by you. Would you please help them to see it and understand it and know that the purpose of their greatness is to be good. Before they were created, you planned good things for them to do. Help me to guide them to those opportunities. Teach them to be outside of their own needs and get into the needs of others. Let it begin with my example. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.