Episode 196: Helping Our Children Embrace Humility

This week we share how to help our children embrace humility rather than pride, learning to respect and trust God. We found some interesting picture books that help a child understand humility and meekness. 

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript/Show Notes with Links:


Welcome to “Books that Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with our children. We’ve been talking a lot about how we want to disciple the next generation, and we’ve learned through some of the interviews we’ve had recently that we can use any book we’re reading to disciple our kids. Any circumstance we’re in, we can find those teachable moments that we can grasp and really speak into the lives of our children and encourage them in their walks and their development toward following Christ. Now we are at the end of season seven, and we are on a break for a few weeks, and so I’ve chosen some episodes that I think will really be worth listening to again, and I hope they will bless you, and I hope you enjoy them. Today we have one of those replays, and we will be back for season eight of “Books that Spark” in just a couple weeks. In the meantime, enjoy these replays.


In this episode, we talked a lot about humility as we are in the middle of pride month and all that that entails. To me, one of the biggest things that breaks my heart about pride month is the idea that we should be proud of our sin and proud of our rebellion against God. It also brings with it, even in the Christian community, this attitude of just praising everybody and you be you – you do you, and everybody should just be happy with who God made them. And they very much believe that God created them to be gay or whatever, whichever initial they identify with, if they believe in God at all. And I think as parents, as Christian parents who are trying to help our children understand God and his word and his ways, that we really have to deal with this, not so much speaking out against other people, but against the attitude and the idea of being prideful and rebellious against God and being prideful in our own worth.


We need a savior. And if our children don’t understand their need for a savior, then we can never help them come to Christ. That is the first step. And in our culture today, it’s like not acceptable to talk about how we are not okay. We are not perfect. We are not awesome the way we are. We are flawed and broken and need a savior. We are sinners who have chosen to rebel against God. And rather than celebrating that rebellion and celebrating pride in whatever sin we have chosen, we should humble ourselves before God.


I saw a post the other day where people were praying for revival. When they’re talking about revival, they’re looking for healings and miraculous signs that God is here and that he is blessing us. And that is not what revival is. If we are really praying for revival, it begins with you and with me as we humble ourselves before our God. And we need revival. We need spiritual awakening, and we should be praying for that all the time. But it begins with humility. It begins with repentance. It begins with us falling on our knees before God and asking for mercy. And if we can help our children understand humbling themselves before God, what a blessing that is to their lives, what a blessing that is to our world to have that attitude. And so I’ve chosen this episode from a while back in talking about children and humility. Think about it, pray about it. What can we do today to humble ourselves before God and to help our children understand that their place in God’s kingdom is dependent upon them understanding their need for a savior? Otherwise, Jesus died in vain. We all need a savior.


The only thing that we should boast in, like Paul says, is in the glory and grace of God. And that’s what we boast in. We don’t boast in ourselves and in who we are and what we’ve done.


I wanted to add one more thing because I do have some friends who have been abused by churches spiritually that they feel hyper sensitive about being called a sinner. And this whole problem here, please understand, it is not our job to convict any one of their sin. And that includes our children. We are to teach them, we are to guide them, we are to correct them, admonish them, all of those things to help them become responsible adults someday. And so that is our responsibility. However, even though we don’t want to mislead them, we aren’t the ones who are actually going to convict them of their sin. And I think that’s really important to acknowledge and understand whether we’re dealing with a neighbor, a friend, even someone that we’re teaching at church, or our own children.


We are never going to convict anyone of their sin. That is the Holy Spirit’s job as he draws them to himself. We need to be there to teach correctly and to help them understand. But what we have in our culture today and even in the church and among Christian parents is this whole notion of building up a child and telling them they’re okay and they’re wonderful and perfect and and yes, we love them, we adore them and we think they’re awesome most of the time. But we are building up a false understanding of reality. When we tell ourselves or we tell our children or anyone else that they’re perfect and they’re okay, we are lying to them. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to do the opposite and say, oh, you filthy sinner. I know we say that to ourselves sometimes that we can be really down on ourselves because of what we have done.


And I don’t think that’s healthy either. We’ve got to obey the word of God and understand what it says and let the Holy Spirit do what he does. If we teach the truth and we don’t build up these “self-esteem” things and lie to our children, we should be good. But we also don’t want to beat them up spiritually and make them feel like total failures. They are created in the image of God, just like we are created in the image of God, every person on earth is created in the image of God. They have value because they are a human being. God values them, he loves them, he died for them. It’s kind of a tightrope at times because we don’t want to build up a false sense of pride, but we do want to acknowledge the victories in our children’s lives, the talents and the gifts that God has given them and who he has created them to be, help them to understand God’s plan for their life.


And part of that, part of God’s plan for each of our lives is to acknowledge that we need him. We need him to save us from our sin, that we are separated from him because of our brokenness, because of our choices to rebel against Him. And we need to be forgiven. We need to be brought into relationship with God through Jesus Christ, finding that tightrope. We really need to pray for that. Pray for wisdom that God will guide us and help us. I know as a kid I really struggled. I was a very shy child, introvert, beat myself up all the time because I felt like such a failure all the time. And my mom would get onto me about being so negative. And so then something would happen, and I would feel good about myself and then she would get onto me for being conceited.


And as a kid I’m like, well, which is it? And it is a tightrope. It is hard to navigate this. So I’m not saying it’s easy. I think we really truly need to pray for God’s wisdom. We need to pray that God would guide us in our own walk as well as in parenting our children and in teaching others. It is not easy. We don’t want to beat people up and tear them down and stomp on their feelings and all of those things, but we also don’t want to build people up with a false sense of security, a false sense of pride and all of that. So I hope that’s clear that I’m communicating clearly. It really is important that we come to an understanding of our need for a savior, but that we have value because of who we are, just because we’re created by God.


Enjoy this and enjoy the books we talk about in this episode of “Books that Spark.”


This generation has been told over and over again that they are wonderful, that they are exceptional, that we are proud of them, that they should be proud of themselves. It’s really hard when you’ve been told your whole life that you’re awesome and perfect to understand your need for savior. I’ve seen that being an issue in some people’s lives that I’ve shared the gospel with. If we can’t understand we need a savior, then the whole gospel message is meaningless to us. So how do we help our children that we’re raising, that we’re discipling, that we’re teaching to understand that they need to be humble before God, that they do need a savior, that we are all sinners in need of a savior and yet not tear them down, scare them into salvation.


How do we find that correct way to share the truth with them and help them? So I went on a search for books that could help with this and have been thinking about it a lot. How do we find that? Because I grew up in a generation where we would have “revival meetings,” tent meetings, those kinds of things, that generation, that phenomenon. And often, not always, but often, those pastors who would come through and who would preach the revival would preach fire and brimstone and scare young people into walking forward because they were more afraid of hell than they were of the joy they were seeking in finding a relationship with Christ. And I always was bothered by that When I became a Christian, I was a young child and for me, I was looking for a relationship with God. I didn’t even think about hell.


I just thought about God. I thought about Jesus. I thought about heaven. I knew that my parents had something in their life that I wanted in mine, and I knew I was missing out. And so it was more of a fear of missing out that brought me into the kingdom than a fear of hell. So I don’t think that that’s the answer, although that is still truth. And we can share that at the right time. But how do we help people see their need to be humble before Christ? And the truth is, we have people who believe they’re Christians because they’ve prayed a prayer, they’ve gone forward or they believe that Jesus existed. They believe that he is the Son of God, but yet they don’t make him Lord of their life. So salvation, the gospel is very clear that Jesus needs to be our Lord and Savior and for him to be our Lord and Savior, we need to understand number one, that we need a savior, that we are sinners who need grace, that we need forgiveness.


We need to understand that he is Lord, he is God. We are not by the very term of God. That means he’s the authority. He’s the one in charge. And we humble ourselves before him, but we haven’t been teaching out in the world. We haven’t been teaching these things. In fact, when I first went into teaching in the eighties at one school I taught in, we were not allowed to put a child in the corner to separate them from the crowd. If they were causing trouble or hurting other children, I was not allowed to separate that child from the group because that would damage their self-esteem. And I’ve talked about the myth of self-esteem before on here, and you can find some really great videos about that on YouTube. Man, it was so destructive. What happened as a result of this policy in the school where I taught was really damaging to some children and I had a really hard time with it.


Thankfully I only was in that school for a year and moved on. We have to find a balance. We have to find a way to share the truth where children, where they are at the age they are, can understand and build on that truth as time goes on and help them understand the truth from the Bible is that our hearts are deceitful. We are not all that wonderful. We are a mess and we need a savior to help us. Yes, he created us. He loves us. Like it says in Psalms, we were wonderfully made. Every human being is made in the image of God. However, we have marred that image by our choices to rebel against God and to be sinful. And even the youngest child struggles with this, and they understand that they have a conscience. In fact, their conscience may be in better shape than ours when they’re little.


And so we can appeal to that. We can appeal to their conscience, we can appeal to their understanding of right and wrong and fairness and all those things because their understanding of reality at a young age is pretty black and white. It’s right and wrong. This is good, this is bad. So that part should be fairly easy for us to understand. Helping a child to accept who they are, who God has created them to be, I believe is an important thing. But we don’t want to build a false sense of pride and a false sense of perfection and goodness that is contrary to what is reality and what is truth. I think we have to teach that we have to humble ourselves before God. Now, of course, the best thing we can do is demonstrate that to our children, humble ourselves before God, recognize our failings, apologize to our children when we make a mistake and move on from that and show what reconciliation truly is helping our children with their siblings to reconcile and to forgive one another.


When we model those things and when we help them learn those things, then it would be an easy way to then move into the gospel and to share about Christ. I just want us to be conscious of that because I think it is something in our culture today that is in danger and really is something foreign to many people because they’ve been taught so much of the affirmations and the self-esteem rhetoric. And I mean, talk about pride. We’re proud of our sin. We’re proud of what we do. You know, the whole culture is teaching pride, pride, pride. We’re proud of our genetics. And it’s like, you know, I am proud of my heritage. I love that my great grandmother was half Native American and half Spanish. I love that. I love that I grew up in a culture that celebrated Hispanic culture in my home, even though that’s a minute part of my genetics, it’s a big part of my culture.


And when it comes to genetics, I guess I come out mostly Scottish. But I didn’t know much about Scottish culture because that wasn’t what was emphasized in my family, but I had nothing to do with that. Those were the genes given to me. So I don’t really take pride in it in a way that would make me elevated and prideful of who I am that way. So everybody is celebrating everything and not acknowledging our total bankruptcy spiritually and how we so need a savior. I start with, and I’m gonna write a blog post. I think about this starting with the beatitude, starting with the first one that says, blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God. And the poor in spirit means that we are spiritually bankrupt if you look at the meaning of that scripture. So that verse is Matthew 5:3.


And in the New Living Translation it says, “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” And if you look at it in the Amplified, it says, “blessed, spiritually, prosperous, happy to be admired are the poor in spirit. Those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant for theirs is the kingdom of heaven both now and forever.” I love the amplified version. It just kind of breaks those words apart and clarifies. So how can we build a foundation in our children’s lives besides our own example? What books can help us to kind of open up that conversation with our kids?


So I want to start with one book, and this is the main one I want to talk about. It’s a really wonderful, beautiful book and it is called The Tower, A Story of Humility by Richard Paul Evans and Illustrated by Jonathan Linton. And it is a picture book. It has probably more words than most picture books, but it’s still only 32 pages long. The typical size of a picture book. This is really a wonderful story that just is very concrete in explanation and understanding. And it tells this story of a young man who lived in ancient China, and he’s trying to figure out how he can be admired by others. I think it was a wise old man who told him, you just want people to look up to you. And so that’s where he got the idea that he wants people to admire him, and that means they look up to him. So he took that literally and builds a tower and he starts out there several steps before he gets to the tower. But finally a bird comes and talks to him, and then a wise old woman comes and shows him the error of his ways. It’s so beautiful because not only does he find the error of his ways, he changes his ways. And in the process of ministering to others and blessing others, he becomes respected, therefore people look up to him. And so it’s a very ironic story. It’s beautifully done. And if you don’t know who Richard Paul Evans is, he’s the one who wrote The Christmas Box and several other stories that have become movies on Hallmark and does a beautiful job of writing truth and the gospel into his stories. And this one is no exception. It’s really well done. I highly recommend this one. And that is, again, the Tower.


The only other book I found that I thought was really cute and helpful is actually a devotional book for families. And this one’s called The Heart of Humility: Teaching Kids to Put Others First by Luke Gilkerson. And this is a whole curriculum, so you can use the curriculum or you can just get the book of devotionals, but it’s based on Philippians 2:1-18 and talks about humility with our children. And so it’s meant to be a family devotional. The reading age of this one is eight to 12 years old. So I’m sure as you’re dealing with it and talking together as a family with it, you could probably go a little below that. But the reading age would start at eight. And it says in the introduction, “A parents, there are different ways we can help our children understand the word of God. The first and probably most common way is by giving them a broad understanding of scripture. By reading through major Bible stories and events year after year, we give them the big picture of the Bible from beginning to end. This is vital for them to develop a biblical worldview. Second, we can spend time drilling deep to specific books or passages. We teach our children the value of contemplating a single word or phrase showing them just how rich the Bible can be. This models for our children the art of studying the Bible in all its fullness and teaches them to pause and reflect on all the words God has inspired. This family devotional is an example of the second way it will help your children grasp the rich truths contained in Philippians 2:1-18.” The purpose of this is to help with memorizing the scripture and to spend 30 days in a row going through these family devotions. They also offer free printouts that you can use along with it. And they have other homeschool assignments you can do along with this. And so it’s quite a cool little book and offers a lot for the family. They have questions for the kids, they have scripture reading, and they go through quite a lot. So I want to share just a snippet from one of the devotionals, because I don’t want to take away from what they’re doing, but I want you to kind of see what they are offering in these devotionals.


As a person who writes devotionals for families, this is near and dear to my heart, and so I want to share with you. So they start with an opening thought Last time we spoke about the problem in Philippi. So let’s talk about Paul and the Philippian Church. Of course, since we’re in Philippians, “They were supposed to stand together helping each other to be bold and tell others about Jesus. Instead, what was happening, they were not united. They were grumbling and complaining about each other. The good news is, instead of just telling you to stop complaining and be united, the Bible actually tells us how to do that. That’s what we’re going to read about today.” So then they jump into the scripture, Philippians two, one through four, they explain the scripture and talk about it. And then they have questions for the kids. “Who are the people you see every day or almost every day? What are some ways you can be a servant to them?” And this is key too. One of the things I always ask my children to do is think of a way to bless someone today, every day. How can you bless someone today, whether it’s a family member or someone you’re around? If we can help our children do that, they’re naturally going to have a little more humility because they’re not thinking about themselves, they’re thinking about others. So they’re not so self-focused. So these are tools that we can use to help raise a generation that is not caught up in the self-esteem lie and in the pride sin that our culture has so embraced and that we can look at God as God as Lord of our lives, and not just the Savior who gives us a way to keep out of hell, but that God saves us to become his family, to be in a relationship with him and for our lives to be changed.


This is what we’re all about. That’s what we’re wanting to help our children grasp and understand. So I hope these books will really help you. I really do think they’re wonderful, and I highly recommend them, especially if you’re dealing with these kinds of things. The other last resource I want to mention is we’ve had Dawn Stephens on our show before, and she’s the one who wrote The Little Pot book and she’s written four books now, but on her website as a companion to The Little Pot stories, she has some worksheets and things you can download because when they first started teaching this book at her school, she was a principal at the time. She said she was really surprised because as children started seeking out God’s purpose for their life and understanding they were supposed to bear fruit and all of this, it somehow got twisted into this prideful thing.


And so they had to talk about humility. And so she also has some resources on her website that can help teach humility while still teaching that we’re supposed to be bearing fruit. We’re supposed to be used by God. God wants to make our lives matter and that we can make a difference in the world. But that is not something that should be prideful. It’s something that should be done with humility.


Thank you for joining us for “Books that Spark,” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and like I said, we will be back for season eight in just a couple weeks. So keep on listening and join us each time. We would love to hear from you. We welcome your comments on our blog post or social media and just jump into the conversation. We would love for you to join in. We pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her newest book, A World of Pancakes, just launched and is available at terriehellardbrown.com. Her devotional for families, Building Character through Picture Books: 25 Family Devotions Based on Favorite Picture Books, is available on her website and through Amazon.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *