When our children were very young, Patricia kept a journal on each one. Here is an excerpt from Billy’s (Will’s) journal:
Praying with Billy the other night, I was thanking the Lord for him, telling God what a blessing he is and thanking God that he loves his brothers and sisters. After a minute, Billy interrupted my prayer: “Mom, I do naughty things.” He didn’t want me to continue. “Well, that’s why Jesus died for us, son,” I explained. In all of it, I see the Lord preparing his heart for salvation, and I am so grateful.Shortly after that journal entry, his K4 teacher gently led him to Christ. A few weeks after that, he lay down in his bed but then came into our bedroom and said, “Jesus spoke to me and told me that he wanted me to be his disciple.”
This series of events: feeling bad about himself led to receiving Jesus at age four. He continues to follow Jesus at age twenty-four.
As a principal of a small Christian school, I have had parents come to me concerned because their children say they do not have friends. I have watched their children play on the playground and have loads of fun with different children. I have learned that the issue may be spiritual and not social.
This “left-out feeling” often is a signal from the Holy Spirit that He is working on a young heart and drawing her to Jesus. Her sense of guilt or loneliness or of being left out might be something much deeper than the playground, but might be the tug of the Holy Spirit wooing her. Something is missing; there is a God-sized hole in her heart that only God can fill. Other people can never satisfy that longing.
Perhaps sharing the simple gospel will solve the “friend problem” for your child. The Friend he is longing for is near, as near as his mouth and his heart.
The next time that your young child expresses one of these symptoms of low self-esteem, explore the possibility that the Holy Spirit is at work and point him to Christ. It might not be a self-esteem problem; it might be conviction that he needs the Lord. It is worth investigating; it could be the best day of his life. After all, most people receive Christ between the ages of four and fourteen.
You could say to her, “Did you know that Jesus died on the cross for us because we are all sinners—even little guys. If you ask him to forgive you, he will. He wants to live in your heart because he loves you. Would you like to ask him to forgive you for your sins right now?”
If the Holy spirit is working, she will respond with an open heart.