WHAT’S IN A NAME? by Nancy Campbell
Recently I was reading a booklet entitled, “Train Up A Child” by Doug Duncan. He tells the story of a New Zealand sheep farmer who diversified into raising goats. This farmer noticed a difference in the way the sheep and goat mothered their young. The ewes would stay in close proximity to their lambs, always ready to protect. The goats, however, would invariably herd their young together into one spot on a knoll and leave them while they went off to forage for the day.
I checked this out with my father. Considering he has been a world champion sheep shearer and shorn well over a million sheep in his lifetime, I thought he would know a bit about sheep! He confirmed that ewes will never wander away any further than earshot form their lambs.
As I thought about this, I wondered if this is the reason we now call our children ‘kids’. Is it because we have become a society of ‘goat mothers’, who are quite prepared to leave our little ones and go off for the day? Of course, you’ll remember how often God talks about separating the sheep from the goats!
Are we ‘goat mother’ of ‘sheep mothers’? A challenging question.
As I have talked about this with some young mothers, they have decided to call their little ones, ‘lambs’ instead of ‘kids’. They immediately noticed a different attitude toward their children. They feel more motherly and gentle. It’s easy to scream at ‘kids’, but not so easy at ‘little lambs’. In fact, a generation ago, it was common to hear parents call their children ‘my little lambs’ or even pray, ‘keep my little lamb safe through this night.’
I have also decided to stop using the word ‘kids’ and call my children what God says they are. I still forget, but I’m gradually learning. I notice that nowhere in the Bible are children referred to as ‘kids’ or even ‘teenagers’.
What shall we call them? Apart from ‘children’ and ‘sons and daughters;, there are other names we can use. These will make us realize how precious and wonderful our children are in God’s eyes. Let’s have a look at what God calls them…
A heritage from the Lord
The fruit of the womb
Sighs and wonders
The work of God’s hands
Our children will become what we call them. In fact even the word ‘children’ is a powerful word when we understand its true meaning. It comes from the Hebrew word ‘banah’ which means ‘to build’. A child is ‘a builder of the family name’. This is what God is interested in - building godly generations.
References to what God call our children:
Gen. 33:5; 48:9; Joshua 24:3; 1 Chron. 25:5-6; 26:4-5; Ps. 127:3-5; 128:3-4; 144:12; Is. 8:18; 29:23-24; 40:11.
Since a read this article by Nancy Campbell, about 6 years ago, I could never call my children kids. The word just got stuck in my throat every time I wanted to say it, but I also couldn’t call them my little lambs, although I wanted to! It sounded strange and unnatural. Still, the idea of my children being my lambs, were always upfront in my thoughts.
This year as autumn hit South Africa and the nights become colder, I discovered that Daniel and David had outgrown their pajamas. I had just finished Danika’s princess dress and my sewing machines wasn’t put away yet, so I decided to make them new pajamas. Last winter I bought thick pajama material, but only made CJ a warm top. I had enough left to make Daniel and David’s pajamas.
They absolutely loved their pajamas!
David couldn’t stop telling me how nice and warm it felt on his skin the first few nights he put it on. And then as I took them in my arms, I all of a sudden could say it! They felt just like little lambs and every time I called them my lambs the love in my heart for them just grew! It was so liberating to call them by the name I had for them in my heart for all these years!
They are my lambs, and I am their sheep mother, keeping them near to me, so I can train them.
I just came from a children’s party this morning. The birthday child (who turned four), his brother and all the other children, except my children, are in playgroups and state schools every day of their life, while the mothers are pursuing their careers and hobbies. I couldn’t help but notice how obstinate and far astray these kids where and they were only between 4 and 8 years old!
As I was putting my little lambs in bed tonight I thanked the Lord that I’m a sheep mother, raising little lambs under the guidance of the Good Shepherd! Without the Good Shepherd’s guidance I would never be able to do this!
Dear mother, what are you raising? Lambs or kids?