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Zig Ziglar in his book “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World” tells the story of Andrew Carnegie who was the wealthiest man in the USA in the early 1900s, so wealthy that he employed over 42 millionaires. One day a reporter who was intrigued by Carnegie’s wealth asked how he developed these men to become so valuable that he would pay them that much money. Carnegie explained,” Men are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be removed to get an ounce of gold, but one does not go into the mine looking for dirt – one goes in looking for gold. And the more he looks for, the more he finds.”

Genesis 1; 27 says “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” Each of us is created in God’s image including our children. And yet what do we often focus on? Yes the dirt! Instead of focusing on the gold in our children, we focus on all the things they do that are wrong or that we do not like.

Wouldn’t you, as a parent or teacher or anyone who has influence on a child, like to be a gold miner, looking for the gold in the children under your care? As Christians what gold do we want to find in our children? Is it the gold of the world or is it the reflection of God’s heart stamped on their heart when He made them?

Instead of focusing on the wrong our children do, God is challenging us to notice and nurture what they do right. What a change in perspective that would be for many of us. God is our gold miner and He is willing to look past who we are to who we can become .He calls us to do the same as parents or caregivers, to look past the dirt and see the glimpses of gold in our children each day.

How can we go about finding gold in our children and what would that gold look like?

Renee Swope in her articles “Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child” suggests the following:

  1. Determine to make character count.
  1. Tell your child the parallel between gold in the ground and gold in their heart.
  2. Tell them that God is most concerned with what we are on the inside which is reflected in our character.
  3. Show them bible verses that emphasize the importance of character. You can put verses to a song for younger children.
  4. Make a commitment to learn about a new character every week or two.
  5. Choose a regular time to decide which trait you will focus on and ways you can practise it together.
  6. Put a note somewhere noticeable to remind you each day to look for the gold and not the dirt.
  1. Define character traits in terms your child can understand.
  1. Explain to your child what it means to be patient, if that is the trait you have chosen for the week.
  2. Take time to read a simple definition and ask your child how they think they can live out that trait at home or at school or in whatever environment they are in.
  3. Explain the character trait if your child does not understand. For example :

-Generosity means to give you time, treasures or talents

-Obedience means carrying out instructions without question

-Honesty means telling the truth.

  1. Find a suitable verse for the chosen trait and help your child to learn it.

For example if you are developing patience, a verse you could use is, “Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2b

  1. Dig for Pre- Existing nuggets of Gold
  1. Begin by looking for attributes that come naturally for your child.
  2. Tell your children when you see good character in their actions and attitudes.
  1. Is you child compassionate, helping a hurt child on the playground?
  2. Is your child generous, offering to share a toy with a friend?
  3. Is your child responsible, doing his homework without being told?
  4. Is your child forgiving, willing to overlook an offense?
  1. Discuss how you can live out character everyday.
  1. Children are good imitators of what they see the key people in their lives doing, good or bad. Look for ways to live out the golden attitude or action each week. It is much easier for a child to grasp a concept if they see it in action.
  2. Discuss biblical characters that demonstrate the trait you are developing for the week.
  1. Explain about dirt that buries the gold.
  1. Discuss with your child the things that bury the gold they have, things like rudeness or bragging or disobedience or complaining.
  2. For example a verse about complaining is Phil 2; 14 “Do all things without complaining or arguing”.
  1. Incentives
  1. Praise your child for showing good character.
  2. Make gold nuggets by making bits of aluminium foil into tiny balls and spray painting them gold.
  3. Each time your child shows one of the traits you are focusing on, you can give him a gold nugget.
  4. You can set up a system whereby he can redeem the nuggets for something special.
  5. Discuss at dinner time or bedtime or at anytime about ways you and your child have lived out the character traits and verses.

So become a gold mining mum and dad or teacher or child carer. Begin looking for and keep looking for character traits to learn and ways to live out God’s Word in your everyday lives. The world tells us to look for treasures in houses and cars and material things but God tells us to mine for gold in our own backyards by investing our lives in shaping the hearts of our children. Bringing out God’s best in our children will go beyond gold nuggets. We will be accomplishing in our children what God wants to accomplish in each of us. He wants all of His children, young or old, to have a heart like His, a heart of pure gold. The good in each of us is because we are created in His image. We will find gold in the hearts of our children and it will be the gold which reflects the heart of God and the golden truths of His Word.