I have just started reading, "It's Better to Build Boys Than to Mend Men" by S. Truett Cathy. In the introduction, there are parts that speak directly to my heart about the importance of guiding and loving children in the right direction.
On pages 16-18 it is written, "Every child I know who overcame long odds and grew into a responsible adult can point to an individual who stepped into his or her life as a friend, a mentor and a guide.... We are all "chips off the old block". If parents are not trustworthy, they should not expect their children to be trustworthy. Parents who gamble or drink can expect their children to do the same. I often remind parents, 'Don't be too concerned that your children don't listen to you, but be very concerned that they see everything you do.'... A child needs a new model to break the generational cycle, an adult who will show him or her a better way (when parents fail). For some children that better way will be a new way of thinking, and they will need continual positive reinforcement... I hope the thoughts and illustrations in this book help you in particular situations, but the best thing you can do to help a child is follow your instinct and God's leading. Reach out to children sincerely. Reach out in love. Love children into a sense of belonging. Let a child know you care and you're available to talk - to be a friend. Encouage children honestly, reminding them of their strengths and their opportunities. There are no magic words. All you can do is share a bit of yourself, allow God to use you to plant a seed in a child, and pray that it takes root."
As a recipient of many blessed seeds, I can tell you that this sort of investment can change the life of a child! I cannot imagine who I would be without the countless teachers, scout leaders, friends' parents and other various adults in my church who impacted my life. My heart overflows with gratitude and admiration for those who take the time to invest in the lives of children.
But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to those who are like these children." Matthew 19:14