SAY WHAT YOU MEAN - MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’ [a firm yes or no]; anything more than that comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37 AMP).
Living by this simple principle as parents has completely changed our parenting experience! This goes beyond keeping your commitments to others and always telling the truth. While we may have lived by it in our day to day lives with the grown-ups we interacted with, we often missed all the ways as parents that we had an opportunity to live by it at home, too. After all, when you first wake up in the morning and you’re trying to get ready for your day, you’re not always thinking about the long-term effects of your words.
Maybe that’s just us… Maybe other kids are easy going… Maybe they always listen the first time their parents speak and are never tempted to question their directions… Maybe they never consistently go for option C when they’ve been offered A or B. Wait—who am I kidding? It’s human nature! Our heavenly Father knew this when He created us with the power to choose, not to mention that throughout the Bible He demonstrated how different He was from mankind’s fallen nature in this area. He is not a man that He should lie, and His Word is His oath. He means what He says, and He acts on it. What He says is really what He means! It’s often hard for us to wrap our heads around this concept in our relationship with Him. However, when we do, it brings security, freedom from fear, and a realization that our Father is Who He says He is and that He always keeps His promises.
“God is not a man who lies, or a son of man who changes His mind. Does He speak and not act, or promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19, HCSB).
Our words are important, even if spoken casually, unintentionally, or uniformed. The importance of meaning what we say— or believing in what we say and following through on it—cannot be taken lightly. This is a demonstration of our authority not only as parents, but also as the heirs of Christ given the privilege to represent Him to the world. It is an exercise of our authority to the powers, principalities, and rulers that we actually fight against (Eph. 6:12). It sets the tone that “I believe what I say when I speak, and I am willing to act on it.” This is why it is so important to consistently have your mind renewed by the Word of God through the leading of His Spirit, so we can not only speak what God speaks, but also believe Him when He speaks. This is what gives us our authority. Without this authority, we will find counterfeit power to attempt to accomplish our purposes—and we will struggle.
We all want our kids to grow up in homes where they feel safe and secure, where they trust and respect us as their God-given leadership, and where they are filled with the joy of being a child of God. In order for this to truly happen, we have to be imitators of our God—we have to consistently mean the words that we speak in truth and in love. Trust builds in this environment, relationship flourishes, and confusion evaporates.
When my husband and I began to really see the importance of this, and to live it consistently in our home with our child, parenting became a joy to us, and our child actually became much happier. It wasn’t that we were in the business of making false promises to our child, or that we were fickle-minded, but there are other, more subtle ways that we had missed. For example, our son would consistently require a reason before following directions or accepting our answer, or he would ask us for something long before it was time (or while we were in the middle of doing something else). While these things in themselves are not categorically wrong—you can see how they set you up for an opportunity to either be convinced to change your mind or commit to something you are not prepared to commit to. Seeing the value of how important our yes’s and no’s are—even in the less significant day to day things—we have learned to make some simple adjustments to how we respond. They have drastically changed our lives for the better.
Things like: saving explanations until after our son has done what we asked, letting him know that we are not going to commit to something that we are not ready to commit to, or having him simply wait until we are ready to actually listen to his requests and not just answer him absent-mindedly, are all great starts! All of these actually seem like no brainers, don’t they? We thought so, but when we began to pay attention to how much these things were happening when we weren’t prepared, and how often we were having to clean up our messes, we realized the importance this carries for our entire home. Not only were we becoming frustrated as parents, but truthfully, it was indirectly causing our son to live in a state of fear, since the people he was supposed to trust the most had not given him clear boundaries in the relationship and in his growth process. When we saw the value in speaking what we mean at all times and lived that way at all times—whether feeling benevolent, busy, scared, or frustrated—we saw an immediate change in not only our interactions, but also in our hearts towards one another. Not only this, but we began to flourish as parents while our son began to flourish as a son.
Begin to think about the value you as a parent and representative of Jesus place on meaning what you say at all times. Resist the pressure of this world to respond without thinking of the impact of your words, and whether you truly believe and mean what you say. Your words are valuable and powerful. Watch your home begin to thrive like never before!
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