How to Teach Compassion

Little girl at home

It’s October. Time for the start of something. For me that was beginning a new Bible reading plan. It began with Matthew 1 and while I usually don’t get too excited about reading genealogy (does anyone?), God pricked my heart concerning something I haven’t thought much about.

Matthew 1: 5-6 says:
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,
Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,
Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

Personally, I love the story of Ruth and Boaz. Ruth, a foreigner and a widow, is redeemed by Boaz. The lonely and unloved found love and was not only given a second chance, she was given a husband, a family, a son.

But this morning I started thinking more of Boaz. The son of Rahab, a foreigner and a harlot, found love and compassion for a foreigner and a widow. It doesn’t surprise me. Boaz learned growing up that the greatest love sometimes comes after great pain. He witnessed that within his own household.

Many times as a mom I desire to hide all the pain of my “horrible teen years” from my children. In the past, I didn’t want them to put two-and-two together when it came to my teen pregnancy. I didn’t want to have to confess that I’d had an abortion. I didn’t want to talk about the moments I fell short or flubbed up. But the truth is, as I’ve shared my pain and struggles over the years God has used my confessions to grow a heart of compassion in my kids. Now, as three of my kids are young adults, they care for those down and out. They befriend those on the fringes of society. They love the sometimes unlovely.

In my life I have been very grateful for God’s transformations, but I had no idea the impact it would have in my kids. Through my sometimes poor example, my children have also learned that the greatest love sometimes comes after great pain. And through their hearts of compassion, my prayer is that they’ll continue to share that care and concern with others—whoever God brings in their paths.

What about you? How are you giving your children a heart of compassion? Or maybe like me, your “flubs” or shortcomings have provided a valuable lesson of God’s redemption. I’d love to hear your story.


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  1. This was really encouraging to read. My husband and I have quite the testimony to share with our children, but there are parts of it that are pretty scary for an 8 year old and a 4 year old to comprehend…or so we think. We have shared some details, a long season of unemployment and how God’s provision was always perfect and right on time, how their daddy has a very serious heart condition doctors were sure only a heart transplant would correct, yet he’s beat the odds without one and is still holding strong. But there’s also the case of mistaken identity where their daddy was wrongly accused of hit and run. Where he had to go to jail as part of that accusation — only for 12 hours — the worst 12 hours of his life, and then the fear of wondering if when the trial finally arrived the jury would believe he wasn’t anywhere near the scene when the incident occurred. That they had the wrong guy. And God’s miracle (literally revealing the person who was guilty) only days before the trial. But that was a long two year stress filled season of wondering if he’d end up spending 4 years behind bars for something he never even saw. We haven’t shared that with our kids yet. I know one day we will. We just aren’t sure they’re ready for that one. Or maybe my hubby is not ready to talk about it yet. It was pretty traumatizing for us. One things for sure, God has been very good to us and He always shows up with His victory dance. 🙂

  2. Shanon Bagwell says:

    I can relate very well! Three years God enabled me to release my secret of being post abortion to my husband of 13 years. One year later we shared with our oldest daughter. Yes, it most certainly instilled a heart of compassion in her. We have 11 year old twins and the time is drawing near to share with them. God is faithful to his promises and honors our steps of obeidiance!

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