My niece and I sat together in the movie theater, empty buckets of popcorn and cups of soda scattered around us. As Charlotte’s Web came to a close, the end score flooded the theater with music, and they began to roll the credits. A long list of every person who contributed to making that movie scrolled across the silver screen. It was the filmmaker’s way of saying thanks to all the people who had a hand in creating the film.
People began to get out of their seats and make their way toward the exits. However, it is my habit to wait for the crowds to die down and sit through the credits. I enjoy the opportunity to read people’s names, see where they poured their hearts and talents into the production, and acknowledge how much work happens behind the scenes.
“Wow!” Jillian exclaimed, swinging her legs as she watched with her wide cocoa-colored eyes. “That’s a lot of names!”
“That’s right,” I answered the five-year-old. “It takes a lot of people to make a movie. It’s not just the actors and directors. There are tons of people behind the camera who work tirelessly on costumes, makeup, lighting, sound, building the set, and the graphics. Everyone contributes in a special way to make what we just saw.”
She pondered this for a minute and watched the credits roll with newfound interest. She pointed to a name. “What did he do?”
“He helped build the set.”
“What about her?” Jillian pointed to another name.
As the credits came to a close and the last note of the score faded away, she tucked her hand in mine, and we walked toward the exit. “Do you know that our lives are kind of like a movie?” I asked her.
“Absolutely. What if we rolled the credits for the movie of our lives? Think of all the people who would be on that list! Every single one of them has a part to play in who we are. Who do you think would be listed in your life’s movie?”
Jillian rattled off a list of names as we buckled into the car and didn’t stop until we arrived at the playground.
Our Personal Rolling Credits
Flavia Weedn once said, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” These people who make such an impact in our lives are instrumental in shaping who we are and what we believe.
Focus on the Family’s Vice President of Parenting, Danny Huerta, explains it this way:
“No one builds a life alone, whether good or bad. God created us to be relational beings and to have a profound impact on one another. I love thinking about the people I have gotten to know and intersect with, and the many ways they have positively influenced my life along the way. I call these moments “invitations” or “divine appointments” within the grand invitation of God’s kingdom story. Whenever I can, I let them know about the specific influence they have had in my life, and I thank God for those invitations and the wisdom to see future invitations I need to step into.”
There are three types of people that you and your children will discover in the rolling credits of your lives:
Contributors are those people who have poured their time, talents, and resources into the lives of you and your kids. Parents, grandparents, spouses, relatives, teachers, coaches, and mentors typically fall into this category as they devote countless hours to our growth.
The people who are contributors to our lives have a talent for seeing things in us to which we are blind. They believe that we can become the best version of ourselves, and because they believe in us, they show us love by helping us hone our skills, sharpen our talents, and water the seeds that help us grow.
Influencers are those people who have an impact on the way you behave, act, and think. Think of your kids. Do they dress in a particular fashion sense because someone they know dresses that way? Do they imitate a favorite actor’s inflections? Are their favorite shows, books, and music influenced by what others say about them?
It is essential that we look for people who positively influence what we do, say, and think. That positive influence can play a significant role in their beliefs and actions, especially as they grow into young adulthood. People with a godly perspective can help shape ideas about God and draw us closer in relationship with Him. They can also demonstrate ways to model Christ-like behavior to those around us.
Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It is important for our kids to find positive, godly influences who will help them to keep their focus on God.
Encouragers are those people who offer words of support and inspiration. These words of encouragement can help build us up and bolster us against those moments where we doubt if we can overcome a particular challenge or achieve a goal.
Having someone to cheer us on as parents can help us be courageous and find the stamina to work through challenging moments. Encouraging our kids will help them find confidence as they grow into who God made them to be. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Navigate family life with grace and love!
A Parent’s Role
As a parent, you are all three! You are a contributor, influencer, and encourager in your child’s life. You have the unique opportunity to pour time and resources into them, influence their beliefs and behavior, and encourage them to pursue their dreams.
In turn, you can lead your children to become contributors to the lives of those around them. There are countless ways to pour into the lives of their classmates, peers, neighbors, and family. For instance, they might teach a younger sibling how to throw a baseball and show up to all of their little league games. Or maybe they decide to help an older neighbor with their gardening. Your family could start a set of contributor journals to encourage each other daily. The ways for our kids to contribute and show love to those around them is endless. Take some time to brainstorm ideas with your kids, then make a plan to put them into action!
Teaching an Attitude of Gratitude
As parents, we need to model gratitude for the contributors, encouragers, and influencers in our own lives. Our kids will observe our appreciation of these people and will learn to show appreciation to the contributors in their own lives. Teaching our children gratitude will have a tremendous impact on how they approach life, respond to its twists and turns, and how they treat others.
Next, let’s take a look at how you and your kids can thank those contributors for being a part of your lives.
How to Thank Someone for Contributing to Your Life
Who are the people that you would list in the rolling credits of your life? And who are the major contributors to the lives of your kids? And how can you thank someone for that support? Here are a couple of activities that you can do with your family to thank someone for their support and contributing to your lives.
Create Your Own Rolling Credits
First, sit down with your kids, some paper, and pencils and start writing down a list of who has been a contributor in your lives. It may help to break them down into three categories: contributor, influencer, and encourager. If time is limited, set a five-minute timer and jot down as many names as you can.
If you and your kids prefer hands-on crafts and art projects, you can decorate a poster with the names and photos (or drawings!) of the people on your rolling credits. Share each poster with the rest of your family and how each person on the credits has impacted you.
You and the kids can also create mini-movies and personalized rolling credits on the computer. Several free and online video makers, such as Animoto, allow you to create your own unique videos. You might choose to record your child talking about each of the people they have listed, or you can add videos and pictures of your family interacting with them. Remember to add your rolling credits at the end! Then sit back and relax with some popcorn as you watch the movie together. You may even decide to share it with someone who appears in the film as a way to say “thank you.”
Creative Ways to Thank Someone
Saying thank you to the people who have impacted our lives is a crucial way to demonstrate God’s love to them and is a great way to teach our kids about gratitude.
Brainstorm some ideas with your family of ways you could show your gratitude for some of the people on your rolling credits list. Remember, something as simple as a written note or a phone call can bring sunshine into a person’s day!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Write a letter
- Give a phone call
- Create a greeting card
- Make a fun craft (such as a picture frame that includes a picture of you together)
- Go to an event that is important to them
- Celebrate key events in their life
- Take them out for ice cream, coffee, or lunch
- Bake or cook a favorite recipe for them
- Give them a “mentor metaphor” — a small object that symbolizes or represents how they have contributed to your life.
- Pay it forward by being a contributor to someone else in the same way they contributed to your life.
Remember, the ways to thank someone are endless! What other ideas can you come up with?
How to Thank Someone by Being a Part of Someone Else’s Rolling Credits
Just as others have contributed to our lives and show up in our rolling credits, we have the opportunity to be a part of someone else’s rolling credits. Take a minute to think of some people who need someone to step up and invest in their lives. Is there a person you know who could use a mentor and are you the one who could be willing to fill that gap? Or is there a neighbor or family member who could use some encouragement? Are there kids who your children could come alongside and influence in positive ways? God calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves, and becoming a contributor in their lives is an excellent way to show them His love.
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