A dear friend of mine has three young daughters. Take any of them one at a time, and she is fun to be with; pair them up, and they will still be delightful; but put all three of them together and . . . you’d better make sure your life insurance is paid up.

One day, the entire family came into Tulsa to shop at Sam’s Wholesale Club, which is located near our office. Since Cathy and I hadn’t seen them in a while, we decided to meet them there. Each of their daughters has a distinct personality. The oldest is smart, beautiful and warm-hearted. The youngest is soft-spoken. She watches and listens intently to what is going on around her and will crawl up into your lap to give you a hug. She is the kind of child everyone wants to take home. The middle child is (how can I say this delicately?) somewhat of a free spirit and full of . . . potential. Ever since she was born, this little girl has marched to a different drummer. Either she will grow up to be the next Lottie Moon, or you’ll find her listed as No. 1 on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. This type of person excites me because I know one day—no matter what—she will make a mark on the world.

Cathy and I caught up with this family and decided to help the parents by dividing up their girls and doing a little shopping. I took the middle child, and she took the other two. Within a couple of seconds, this precious little girl was getting into everything at Sam’s Club that she possibly could. I said, “Don’t touch that” several times. Next, in an attempt to minimize any potential for destruction, I told her to hold my hand.

Immediately, she put her little hands on her hips, looked me straight in the eyes and without flinching told me, “I don’t have to hold your hand. I AM A PRINCESS!”

I looked straight back into her eyes and said, “That’s right, you are a princess but I AM A KING! And little princesses need to hold the king’s hand.” Without another word, she reached up and grabbed my hand. Later on, we ran into her parents. She immediately asked her dad, “Is Uncle Walker really a king?”

Every dad wants his daughter to know she is a princess, and every mom wants her son to know he is a prince. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a way for parents to remind their children that they are people of worth and value. It is sad to see children who believe they don’t matter to anyone. But it is equally sad to see children who think they are everything and the entire world revolves around them.

Speaking identity and worth into our children is a vital part of parenting, but we can take it to extremes. As our society has become more affluent, the way we look at our children has changed. When America was an agricultural society, children were seen as assets. We needed them to plant the corn and feed the livestock. Were children special back then? Yes! In fact, they were so special that they had to get up and milk the cows before the sun came up.

There are two kinds of princes and princesses: those who find great joy in serving the king and those who want to be king themselves. My young friend thought that because she was a princess, she didn’t have to listen to authority. But a real prince or princess understands that submitting to the King gives them protection and direction.

Jesus himself was called a Prince. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). But this Prince was not too proud to know He needed his Father. “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

What does a true prince do? He searches for . . . his Father’s hand.

Father, I acknowledge that You are the true King. Remind me—and all the parents of little princes and princesses out there—that You have all authority. Help us raise our children for effective service in Your Kingdom. Amen.