A Year in Homemaking: The Grace of Encouraging Words {Week 31}

{Click here to view all of the “A Year in HomeMaking” posts}

In my previous blog post I gave my impression of Sally Clarkson’s chapter entitled “The Grace of Time Spent Together” out of her book The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children. This following post holds hands tightly with the previous post.  It was a hard-hitter for me, be warned!  

51i0oF9QzoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Mrs. Clarkson begins each of these chapters with a passage in which Christ manifests the specific attribute she wishes to discuss. John 14 ff is an extensive discourse in which Christ comforts and encourages His disciples.  In His perfect timing, He consoles the disciples and promises His “Helper” will come (John 14:16), for He knows soon He will no longer be with them.  What struck me about this was the timing.  Timing is so important.  This is where conviction came for me.

Too often I am so focused on faithfulness in training and discipline, I forget the influence of my words.  In spite of all the Proverbs sticky notes I have plastered on my cupboards and fridge, my tongue remains utterly untamed.  This time it affects my little two year old.  Words are so influential to our children.  They can give life as well as kill the spirit.   Mrs. Clarkson describes it this way:

“We can be so committed to training our children that we use most of our words to correct and admonish them: ‘Do this!’ ‘Stop that!’ ‘Change that attitude!’… Words of instruction and training are indeed necessary to our children, but we must be careful not to discourage them through nagging, criticism, and reprimands… we must balance our correction with words of encouragement and affirmation,”

Disobedience must be corrected.  But fast-forward to the moment of reconciliation.  The tears have been wiped away, the child has been reminded that they have a Savior in heaven that paid the ultimate price for His Bride, and then the child races off to continue whatever they were doing before their disobedience.  

This is where timing is crucial.  What can be said to this precious child before they race off, back into the world?  What can be said to encourage them in spite of their sin? They can be reminded that even though they have an “icky, icky” heart as we say in our house, they are still image bearers. I can’t forget that the same strong spirit that stubbornly insists upon its own way can be used powerfully for Christ’s Way.  The smart tongue from which disrespect flows can also sing God’s praises and please its Creator beautifully.  The hand that hits can also comfort the weary.  

A child’s attributes can be identified easily.  They stand out; the leaders, the empathetic, the helpers, the singers, the intelligent, the vocal, all work out their gifts daily.  In God-oriented praise, these gifts have to be vocalized by me to my child.  For this reason, training and affirmation shape the God-given attributes and gifts into God-worshiping actions.  The goal is that my child will worship God and delight in Him forever.  My words cannot distract from that goal.  I must carefully balance admonishment with affirmation.

This is my prayer:

Father,
Help me to remember that my well-chosen words will carry life to the hearts of my children.  Help me to affirm their gifts and character as God-given, and along with my children praise You for Your grace in giving.  Help me to resist the temptation to use my words only for correction.  Let my tongue speak grace, the good news of the gospel. In Christ Name, amen.

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