The other day on Facebook I saw pictures of these little girls that looked like little women. The cutline on the pictures asked readers if they would dress their daughters in those pint-sized heels, highly decorative stockings, high-rising skirts and bejeweled earrings and necklaces. Of course the answer for many Christians would be ‘definitely not,’ but some of us get pleasure out of seeing our version of a mini-me. We may not want our children physically-fashioned like us, but we may marvel that our children may not only look like us but also cut a look like we do, respond sharply as we do and otherwise behave in our undesirable ways. We may laugh and accept what we see, simply saying, “She is just like me.” Though some of the mini-meism is genetic, some is environmental, learned from observation or from being intentionally taught. Either way we know that our children learn from us. Our job is to make sure that what is caught and taught is biblical, that we are biblically-fashioning mini-me’s.
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1—ESV). This is what our attitude should be as we seek to help our children to mature. We should only want them to be like us if we are being like Jesus Christ. And as Jesus Christ grew he “. . . became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). So, just as Christ grew, we have to help our children grow spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
Spiritually-fashioned—Though this may go contrary to our inclination, our primary duty is to make sure our children are spiritually strong. So many of us want better for our children financially, materially, and educationally than what we had, and we should, but our desire has to be on the Kingdom first. This is God’s order and should be our order (Matthew 6:33). When we pray; read and study the Bible; seek wise counsel; practice other spiritual disciplines; and guide our children to do the same, they will have everything else that they need. Jesus had the favor of God the Father. When you have God’s favor, you surely will receive the best.
Mentally-fashioned—A good spiritual fashioning paves the way for our children to have a strong mental fashioning. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” So as the word of God gets into us and our children it lives within us, helping us to distinguish between our soul—our mind, will, and emotions, and our spirit—the part that is connected to the Holy Spirit and guided by Him. When we have a clear distinction of what is soul and what is spirit we can clearly recognize if our thoughts are soulish or spiritual. With the Holy Spirit residing in us we are equipped to think biblically and help our children do the same.
Emotionally-fashioned—With a strong spiritual and mental fashioning we are in a prime position to choose the right emotional response. The wisdom Jesus had allowed Him to think right (mentally fashioned biblically) and to feel and respond right (emotionally fashioned biblically). He epitomized this in the mount of Olives when He expressed His emotions not to redeem man through the death on the cross but allowed His thoughts and emotions to be governed by His spirit when He said to God the Father, “Nevertheless not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42—ESV).
Though some of us want our children to play sports because we did (or because we didn’t, hoping they will pursue what we didn’t for whatever reason); to attend certain schools; to achieve certain degrees; and pursue certain careers that may only be our hope for them, I hope we can all declare to the Lord “nevertheless not my will but yours be done.” As we consider that the literal translation of ‘the way’ in “train up a child in the way that he should go” is ‘his way,’ meaning the way God created him to go, we know that means we must train our children to follow the specific purpose that God created them for (Proverbs 22;6). We can, as we always do, apply the verse to mean train our children in the ways of the Lord, to fashion them biblically. With both these applications, we have the clear job description to fashion our children according to Christ’s standards. This is the only way we should seek to create mini-me’s, biblical mini-me’s. When we do this we can rest assured that we are putting the Kingdom first.