Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Power of Our Words

Last Sunday at South Bay, I had the privilege of team-teaching with Andy a special Mother's Day message. We talked about the power of our words as parents to shape our children's lives...for good or for bad.

Proverbs 18:21 says "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

It is so easy as a parent to flippantly make hurtful comments to our kids out of frustration or annoyance or simply thoughtlessness. It takes intentionality to speak life and hope into our kids. Here are two good exercises to help you prepare some life-giving words you can say to your kids this week.

        1-  Make a "Strengths List" for each of your kids.

What is it about your child that sets him/her apart from every other kid their age? Are they kind? Good with their words? Friendly? Energetic? Joyful? Courageous? Generous? Forgiving? Get your spouse, the grandparents, or someone else who knows and love your child to contribute their thoughts. When you see something (ANYTHING!) praiseworthy in your child, write it down so you remember to praise that in them over and over again.

It is certainly okay to praise them for their achievements (great athlete, talented musician/artist, academically gifted, etc...) but the bulk of our encouragement should be for character qualities we see in them. For example, instead of simply focusing on their success as an athlete, praise their perseverance or hard work during practice in preparation for the game. They really don't have much control over whether or not they're a great athlete, but they can control how hard they work.

        2-  Familiarize yourself with what the Bible says is true about them.

The Bible has so many wonderful promises that can help frame our identity as Christ sees us. It is absolutely true that all of our children are sinners in need of a Savior, and leading them to that understanding is ultimately the most life-giving thing that we can do for them. But, for whatever reason, I believe more people struggle with feeling bad about themselves than feeling arrogant and prideful. All of these statements below are true for anyone who has put their faith in Jesus. Helping our children to embrace their true identity in Christ is a profound gift.

  • I am more than a conquerer through Christ & nothing can separate me from His love. (Romans 8:37-38)
  • I am a new creation in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • I've been chosen (hand-picked) by God and adopted into His family. (Ephesians 1:3-6) 
  • The same power & Spirit that conquered the grave lives inside of me, and I have access to that power today! (Ephesians 1:18)
  • I have been given spiritual gifts that God intends for me to use for a special purpose in His Church. (1 Corinthians 12)
  • As far as the east is from the west, my sins have been removed from me. I am clean! Those sins don't have to define me anymore. They're gone! (Psalm 103:12)
  • I was knit together in my mother's womb...handcrafted by the Almighty God of the Universe! What He did was beautiful and wonderful. (Psalm 139)
  • God will never leave me or forsake me. No matter what circumstances I go through or sin I commit, He is faithful. (Hebrews 13:5-6)
  • God has specific plans for my life to bring me hope and a beautiful future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

So, now that your arsenal is loaded with all kinds of genuine, specific, and true words of encouragement, let's make a commitment to unload it on our kids. 
  • When they walk in the kitchen, BAM! "I noticed early today you didn't fuss at your sister when she jumped in the front seat ahead of you. That showed a lot of self-control and a willingness to put someone else's goals and interests above your own."
  • Sitting at the dinner table, BAM! "You know, I see in you...(courage, generosity, perseverance, etc)"
  • Talking through being rejected by a school-friend, BAM! "I am so sorry that you are going through this. Friendships can be really tough. I think this could be an opportunity for you to really lean on God and know that He will never leave you or forsake you. He's always got your back no matter how our friends let us down."
  • Driving down the road, BAM! "God has something really great planned for your life. I can't wait to see what He does through you!"
  • Tucking them in bed at night, BAM! "You are such a gift to our family. When God made you, He made something really beautiful. You are a handcrafted masterpiece by God Himself!"

Whenever we use our words to give specific, genuine praise, it pours life onto our child's soul. Long after the exact words have been forgotten, their effects will have lasting ramifications that shape the way our kids see themselves, view God, and live their lives. 

I want to be my child's number one cheerleader. How about you?!

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