This post is from regular guest poster Mark Seager, Associate Pastor at Cedar Run Community Church and a really good friend of mine. In light of Father’s Day being this month, Mark shares a great word to Dads about words.
Sticks ‘n stones is a lie! Word-inflicted wounds can last a lifetime whereas the damage done by sticks and stones is unnoticeable a week later. The power of a father’s words is immense. They can be life giving or life draining. We need to think before we open our mouths near our children. Words uttered carelessly in a moment of frustration burrow deep into our children’s souls unleashing more destruction than a smart bomb in an underground bunker. Our silence doesn’t help matters either. If we don’t speak blessing into our children lives, our silence allows their doubts fears, and insecurities to run amok. Daughters will seek attention and affirmation from other men. Sons will try to impress their peers – usually with Darwin award-winning displays of stupidity. Men, we can’t hide behind “strong, silent” stereotype. We need to be strong AND verbal.
Must be a dad gene, but more often than not we tend to be hard on our kids. Maybe we’re trying to live our dreams through them. And maybe our intentions are good.
But constant correction and criticism…or even the perception of it, crushes our kids’ exuberance. Fathers, do not frustrate your children or they will become discouraged ~ Colossians 3:21 (NIV). This command is never given to mothers anywhere in the Bible…enough said. Men, we have to think before we speak.
So what should we say? Barnabas sets the gold standard in Acts 11:23-24…
23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Think about how you speak to your children as we unpack Barnabas’ example:
“Saw the evidence of the grace of God” – NOTICE IT. Watch your children’s lives to see what they’re thriving in.
Glad to see the evidence of the grace of God – SAY SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Now you need to step to the plate and open your mouth. Speaking is not just for pointing out where your child needs improvement or what they’re doing wrong.
“Encouraged them” – ENCOURAGE – The word used for “encouraged” in this passage is derived from the same Greek Word as a term for the Holy Spirit (paraclete) who is God coming alongside us. God involved in our lives. We must to do the same for our kids. We need to be students of our kids. Know their fears, their dreams, what makes them tick. We need to come alongside our kids in their life journey as encouraging guides just as the Holy Spirit does with every believer. One other thing…the verb tense used for “encouraged” implies an ongoing action. You can’t do it once and check the box! We need to be constantly encouraging our kids.
True to the Lord with all their hearts – WE ARE TO POINT OUR KIDS TOWARD CHRIST
- You need to have your true north figured out – you have to be experiencing daily connection with God
- You need to live with integrity – you can’t give what you don’t have
- Your life – even the “un spiritual things – needs to revolve around God
- There is no formula and it is is profound, but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. Your encourager, the Holy Spirit, will come along side you to encourage you with how to encourage your kids.
The end result of Barnabas’ encouragement is that “many were brought to the Lord” – may our children be in that “many”! If our kids are in that “many” category, that’s mission accomplished…and directed by well-chosen words.