Summary: Ready to grow up, to become who God desires?

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Do carnivals still have fun house mirrors? When you gaze into one it makes you appear to be 3' wide and 3' tall. Another stretches you out, so that you look like a pro basketball player despite your real height of 5'2". The fun is found in the distortion.

But, in life many people live with a distorted self-image. They do not really see themselves as they are. Some feel constantly inferior, worthless. Others cannot see their flaws and visit hurt and destruction on others unwilling or incapable of seeing what they do.

How do you know yourself?

– Are you a winner or a loser?

– Are you worthy of love and respect?

– Are you convinced you deserve the abuse heaped on you?

– Are you a victim of life’s circumstances?

– Are you confident in the Spirit’s ability to make you ‘more than a conqueror’ ?

Psychologists tell us that we first learn about who we are largely from the words and actions of people of influence

as they relate to us. A child’s self-image is painted by the words and actions of a person of significance. In the Bible, father's often gave their sons a blessing, which was really a vision for their lives in words rich with affirmation.

The principle of blessing is so evident in the ancient story of Jacob, who through deceit stole his father’s blessing. Genesis 27:27-29

"Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed.

28 May God give you of heaven's dew and of earth's richness --

an abundance of grain and new wine.

29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you.

Be lord over your brothers and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.

May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed." (NIV)

Many years later we find Jacob passing blessings on to his own sons. Genesis 49 records his words. With powerful words of symbolism, Jacob pictures each of his sons according to the character that they had shown, some being praised and others being rebuked.

In his excellent book, The Blessing, Gary Smalley tells a true story about a guy named Mike. Listen..

Actually this man goes by the handle, “Mean Mike.” His family started calling him this when he was just a toddler. Why “Mean Mike?” Mike had terrific grip as a young child; and if anyone tried to take anything away from him, he would snarl and hang on for dear life. The nickname Mean Mike began as a humorous way to picture his bulldog tenacity in holding on to something.

But the nickname soon became more than that; it became the way that he lived his life. When Mean Mike grew older, he became quite a bully at home and at school. Everyone at home still called him mean and he lived up to the name. When he joined the football team in high school, Mean Mike, was great name for an outstanding linebacker, but it caused havoc in his personal relationships. He was always too tough to get close to anyone. Little by little, always hearing that he was mean burned its way into Mike's character. Today Mean Mike occupies a cell in a state prison in Arizona.

Mike lived out a vision that was spoken to him. In his life, there were tragic results.

As parents, we have the privilege of painting a picture for our kids of what they can become. We create the first self-image that they have. Few things bring me greater distress than hearing a frustrated young parent tell tell a toddler that they are a bother, a burden, or a pain. Those kids absorb a message that says, “I’m not valued. I’m unloved.” America has a whole generation of kids whose parents were so busy trying to buy stuff that the ones they should have treasured most grew up alone, tended by a TV, feeling alone and abandoned.

Parent, let me challenge you this morning to consider . . .

∙ What do your kids see of themselves through your eyes?

∙ When a negative trait shows up in their behavior do you haul out a mental image of the family's loser uncle and berate your child with the words, “you're just like your lazy uncle?”

∙ If your teenager responded honestly, would he tell you that he felt secure and valued more than anything in your life, or would he report that you regarded him as an intrusion on your personal happiness?

The power of words to shape self image are amazing. It isn’t just kids that are effected!

Even for adults, words have impact — building up or destructive! As we become more mature, our self-image becomes more and more internal, the result of how we are evaluating our own thoughts and actions. Some people attempt to ‘create an image’ that is disconnected from their life. Sometimes such actions are just plain funny. The 50 year old guy whose still trying pretend he’s 25 is a cliche and we can smile at his vain attempts to hang onto his sense of manliness.

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