A few months ago, I was meeting with a Christian businessman I really admire. As we began talking about his childhood, I asked him if his father ever told him, he loved him. He thought for a moment and said with a look of nostalgia, “I don’t recall him saying those words, but I know he enjoyed being with me, and that was good enough!”
I immediately connected with what he said. I had a grandfather who made me feel that he enjoyed having me with him and I’ve never forgotten the feeling! A wise friend once passed on this observation;
“Twenty years from now, almost no one will remember the words you told them, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”
So, here’s the first important question, “Do your children or grandchildren know that you enjoy them?” As I’ve been sharing this man’s story, I’ve found other people who remembered parents or grandparents who made them feel loved and enjoyed. Here are some of their observations;
“My dad trusted me enough to share some of his weakness and failures and what he did to overcome them. As a result, I’ve tried to share some of my ‘secrets’ with my children.”
“My grandmother’s face lit up whenever us grandchildren came into the room. Her house always felt like home.”
“My grandparents didn’t just tell me Bible Stories. I got the impression they knew Jesus personally and they wanted to introduce me to their best friend! I walked away from God for a few years after college, but in the back of my mind, I wanted the kind of friendship with God they had. But, even when I was indifferent to God, their love for me and Jesus, never changed.”
“My dad always asked very personal questions – the kind that told me he really wanted to know what was on my mind and what I was feeling. Questions like;
Who makes you happy to be around them?
Is there anyone who frightens you or makes you feel uneasy?
Which of your friends do you trust the most and why?
Which of your teachers do you really admire and why?
“My grandparents couldn’t have cared less about my grades or my performance in sports. I knew the only thing that mattered to them was that I was kind, worked hard and that was a Christian. I knew they’d be as proud of me if I were a plumber, as they would be if I were a doctor. They went out of their way to compliment me when I did a job well, or when I was respectful of my parents. Their heroes weren’t winners, but servants!”
The secret of a servant Raising kids is a lot of work! Grand-parenting is a lot easier. (It’s like renting, instead of owning!) But because we’re older, it’s still tiring. The truth is, I often have to fake how tired I am or hide how much work it has been, or will be, to care for our grandchildren, or help our adult children out. If that’s being a phony – I’m fine with that. I’ve learned this second important lesson from the Christian servants I admire! The secret to being a servant is making someone feel special, without ever letting on what it’s costing you to serve them.
Gifts with “strings attached” That secret is not only true of grandchildren, but of other people. I’ve notice people in my life who’ve done nice things for me, who diminish my appreciation of their gift, by telling me how much work it was for them. In a nanosecond, I can go from grateful to guilty. I would have preferred they not helped me at all, if I’d known there were strings attached. Perhaps you know someone in your life who wields guilt like a Viking!
Ask So if you’re a grandparent, ask your daughter or son to be honest with you, and have them answer these important questions. 1. Do you think your children believe I truly enjoy being with them? If their answer is less than enthusiastic, then be courageous enough to ask this follow-up question; 2. Help me understand. Why? But be careful how you ask these questions. Make it clear you truly want to know. It may be that your own children didn’t feel you enjoyed them.
Remember this final thought: In the future, your children and grandchildren may never remember what you told them, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.
“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10
I need your help. Question: Did your parents or grandparents make you feel that they truly enjoyed you? Please share with us how. Also, if you felt your parents or grandparents didn’t enjoy you, what gave you that impression?
How following Jesus works in real life.
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