Sometimes after watching a good movie, my family will watch the credits rolling up the screen. It’s amazing how many people contribute to modern movies—costume designers, photographers, editors, caterers. The list goes on.
Our lives are like that. So many people are involved in shaping us, and it’s worth helping our kids understand who is doing the shaping—and how these people are contributing to their story.
While we can’t always choose the people we go through life with, I want my kids to recognize and seek out three types of positive “contributors” to their lives: investors, positive influencers and encouragers.
Investors are people who have donated their time, money, talents and advice to help us grow in wisdom and discernment. As a kid, I delivered newspapers to several older couples, people who not only gave me generous monetary tips but practical suggestions for life, as well. Today my kids have coaches and teachers who invest their time to help my children succeed. I tell my kids to be grateful for those investments, to not let their work go to waste. I ask them to think about the wisdom or resources they’ve received from each investor. By doing this, my kids see how people have invested in them.
These people may include friends, family, a wise neighbor or a favorite teacher. Positive influencers have made a significant and positive mark, perhaps saying or doing something specific that has become monumental in a child’s life. I try to help my kids remember these big moments, so they can better recognize good sources of wisdom and positive influence in the future. Also, I help my kids acknowledge the influence of God and others so they can learn to show gratitude and not mistakenly take full credit for their success.
These are people whose words continue to propel kids forward, not drag them down. I tell my kids that encouragers give us daily reminders of our value, purpose and direction. Running a 5K with my son a couple years ago, I found that nothing was better than the cups of cool water that were offered along the way. I picture encouragers as the people handing out cups of water in the marathon of life. Ask your kids: “Do the people around you offer discouragement or refreshment? Do they help you run the race, or do they make you want to quit?”