Do you practice uplifting your loved ones simply because you love them? Before you answer that, consider this:
Performance-based family relationships can cause serious long-term damage.
Let me tell you a real-life story to illustrate what I mean by that. A man in one of my mastermind groups told me a story about his childhood. When he was 15 years old, he was an amazing baseball player. A slick-fielding all-star shortstop with a batting average of .427. (The last time a player hit over .400 in the major leagues was 1941. Quite a feat for a 15 year old.)
Despite his noticeable achievements on the baseball diamond, every time he would get in the car after a game, his dad would focus on mistakes and missed opportunities. The common theme of their car rides home became critiques such as “if you’d turned that double play”, or “if you would have got one more hit”. His father never said “Hey, great hitting out there today, son!” or “that was a spectacular play you made at shortstop!”
As a result of the constant criticism and no compliments or encouragement, my friend (now in his 40’s) self-admittedly battles with needing to prove himself in nearly everything he does. He knows this problem stems from his childhood and never receiving the recognition from his dad that he sought constantly.
He felt like he didn’t deserve his dad’s love.
This subject is near and dear to my heart. I’ve seen this materialize several times over the years. I'm at the ballpark three or four nights a week watching my grandkids play ball. I can always tell when kids have a dad who is too hard on them. Every time those kids make a mistake they look up at the stands to see if their dad is mad at them. I always wish those kids could get in the car after the game and have their dad compliment them and use their mistakes as a learning experience. “You made some great plays today. Yeah, you struck out to end the game, but I think I can help you fix that. Want to go out for ice cream and talk it over?”
You have an amazing opportunity everyday to inspire confidence in others, especially with your spouse and your children. You hold a bag full of blessings for the people in your life. Are you going to give them those blessings or keep the bag shut?
We don’t always deserve love. As imperfect beings, it would be pretty hard to consistently earn the type of love that we look for. Family relationships need to build a foundation on unconditional love. When your kids mess up, they need to know that you still love them. When they don’t deserve your love, that’s the perfect opportunity to administer grace and show them that no matter what you will always love them.
Ever have trouble making your kids behave? Instead of trying to change their behavior, try changing their disposition. When you show them how much you love them, when they see you express your love when they know they don’t deserve it, they are much more likely to want to obey you.
Let me tell you something that my spouse and I have tried to practice. The dividends have been huge for us, and they can be for you too. We always made sure our kids knew they didn’t just get a reward if they did good and punished if they did bad. We did special things for our kids all the time for no reason other than because we love them. And we made sure they knew that was why!
One thing we did that made us heros in our kid’s eyes was surprise them one morning by saying “Hey, guess what, we’re not going to school today. We are going to the zoo instead. We want you to see the animals. We want you to run around and have fun. School will be there tomorrow. We want to do something special with you simply because we love you. We think you’re awesome. We want to celebrate you and we want you to enjoy this day.”
This approach of showing unconditional love isn’t just for your kids. I’m telling you, I’ve tried this in many areas of my life. This works with your kids, your spouse, other family members, peers, colleagues, just about everybody in general. Start loving on people more and watch their disposition change. You will change as well. You’ll experience a feeling that you can’t get anywhere else.
If you practice that on a regular basis you will inspire confidence in others and you will help them realize that their identity isn’t tied to performance or material possessions. For me, I know that my identity is in Christ. With Christ, you don’t need to perform well to earn His love. You already have it. He died for you. The Bible says there’s no greater love than that. We don’t deserve His love. And I’m glad I don’t get what I deserve most of the time. If we all got what we deserved we would be in big trouble. We all need grace in our lives. When it comes to unconditional love, we can’t earn it. Realizing that someone loves you unconditionally inspires a level of confidence and self-esteem that’s unmatched by anything we could ever do ourselves.
Are you up for a challenge? Here’s what I want you to do.
I want you to intentionally show someone unconditional love. It can be your children, your spouse, or someone else in your life. Do something out of love. Give them a gift, take them somewhere amazing, even give them a genuine compliment. Try something you wouldn’t have tried if you hadn’t read this. Go do that and come back here and let me know what you did. Share your experience and tell us how it impacted you and the person you chose.
You have the ability to bless others right now. What are you waiting for?