Since Leland was tiny, I have been whispering to him. Those sweet moments as I held him in my arms and I just gazed upon his perfect little face.
“I love you, Leland Shepherd,” I would say. “Are you going to be strong? And brave? And gentle? Are you going to be kind? Are you going to be a leader and love people? And are you going to love Jesus? With all of your heart?”
I was dreaming. Of Leland. Of what wonderful things he would do. Of what an amazing man he would become. We even put our dreaming into his name.
The name Leland was partly for his dad’s middle name, Lee. In hopes he will become a strong, godly man like his daddy. And Leland also means “meadow land.” It went with what we liked for a middle name: Shepherd. A shepherd leads his sheep in places where the sheep will thrive. A shepherd is kind, attentive, nurturing, a leader. We hope that as our oldest child, Leland will be a leader, who loves and nurtures not just his future siblings, but all of the people that God will put in his path.
We all are whispering to our children.
Our dreams for them. Our hopes of what they will do and who they will become.
It can be through what we name them, what we say, what we do, which TV shows we watch, the people we speak highly of, or what we get most upset about when they don’t do what we would have liked. We are building and shaping our kids through our dreams for them, the spoken and the unspoken.
Do we have dreams that contain words like “character,” “kindness,” or “integrity”? Words like “sacrificial,” “generous,” or “servant”? Or words like “happy,” “successful,” or “healthy”?
None of these dreams are bad dreams to have.
But, friends. We need to figure out what is really important to us and which of our dreams we actually want to see realized in our kids. Some dreams conflict, and we need to make sure we know who we really want our children to become, so that when those dreams rise up in conflict we know which one we’re rooting for.
If we want our children to be people that are affecting eternity and not just “arriving” in the eyes of the world, we need to be digging down deep, covering our kids in prayer, and asking God to help us see who He would have our children become. We need to be speaking that into their lives, and we need to be willing to see some of our other dreams die if we truly want the best dreams for them to come true.
What are we whispering to our children? Is what we’re saying matching what we’re living?
If we say we want for them to be kind more than anything, are we encouraging them to turn the other cheek or show restraint in times of hardship? If we say we want them to be different and to speak pure words, are we taking care not to watch the movies everyone else watches that are filled with anything but pure words? If we say we want them to be full of integrity, are we supporting them to take a lesser job instead of staying in one with a well-paying, immoral boss? If we say we want them to be generous, do we make sure others are taken care of before ourselves, those that may have greater needs than our own?
Which dreams are winning in our homes? Our families? Our own lives?
We do not want to get to the end of our lives and see that our kids “made it,” with nothing of eternal value to show for it.
So dream, friends. Big dreams. Find your real ones. Kill some, build up others. Whisper them. Live them. And go watch your children become who you have been dreaming of.