“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21
I can remember it clearly as a young boy when our family would go shopping at Northwoods Mall in Peoria, Ill. On a few occasions, I would see someone smoking, and I can still remember Dad leaning over and saying, “Son, you can smoke as many cigarettes as you want, as long as you never smoke the first one.”
My grandpa had smoked for years, and my dad never wanted to see that habit become a part of my life, so he was quick to remind me of its dangers. I can also remember a time as a teenager when Dad said to me, “Son, if I ever catch you smoking … you’d better be on fire.”
Those conversations may have seemed funny at the time, but those simple spoken words always stuck with me to this day.
I can remember doing yard work with Dad, when I tried to “cut corners.” I was quickly met eyeball to eyeball with these words, “Son, if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” I think back to that day often in my mind and realize that not only has that phrase always stuck with me, it’s played a significant part in shaping my character.
I can remember many a night when mom would come tuck me into bed. Many conversations were had with her sitting at my bedside before I went to sleep. Mom could talk for what seemed like eternity, and could pray even longer. I remember asking her often if I could say the prayer, simply because I knew I could get the point across to God a whole lot quicker than she would!
However, of all the bedtime conversations we had, I can remember one night mom saying this to me, “If God ever calls you into the ministry like your dad, you’ll have a job more important than the President’s.” As a kid, that seemed to me to be pretty big stuff. Although she probably didn’t realize it at the time, that caused me to look up even more to my dad and his pastoral position, and it helped plant a seed of desire in my heart for being in the ministry someday as well.
I can remember multiple times when my parents looked me in the eyes before a ball game, and said, “Son, you’re going to do great!” I can also remember the many times when they simply said, “Son, we’re proud of you.”
Looking back on my childhood, among the many no-doubt thousands of conversations I had with my parents, there are very few of them that I actually remember. While I know that they all helped develop me into the person I am today, there are just a handful that really stand out in my mind.
Surprisingly, it’s not those long, drawn out talks that I remember. It’s not the times that Mom or Dad got on a soap box and harped on me about what I was doing wrong. Rather, it’s those small, slow and simple conversations that I seem to remember the most that won over my heart and mind. Times when my parents slowed down, drew me close, looked me in the eyes, and spoke words of life and wisdom into me. Times when, looking back now, it seems as if time itself stood still for those few moments.
“There’s a big gap between preaching to your kids and speaking life into them, and your kids know the difference.”
While those ‘small moments’ are ones that I remember, I’m sure my parents never purposefully intended for them to become cornerstones of my life and worldview. They were just doing their best to be good parents. But yet those small and simple things stuck with me, affected me, influenced me and shaped me.
Dad … Mom … do you realize that every day you have the opportunity to speak life into your children’s hearts and lives? You have the chance to say things that will stick forever. Bits of wisdom, words of praise, compliments, challenges, you name it. But all too often we unintentionally allow the busyness of life to steal these moments from us.
“Don’t allow the rush of life to keep you from slowing down long enough to look your little miniatures in the eyeballs and speak slowly, softly, purposefully and lovingly to them.”
Every parent, every day, has opportunities to speak life into their children through the small, slow and simple conversations of life. But are we taking advantage of them?
It could be something spoken in the morning at the start of the day, or in the last moments of the day as you’re tucking them in bed, or anywhere in between. It may be just one sentence. It may just be a few words. But if it’s spoken intentionally, and from the heart, it can bridge a connection between parent and child like no other words spoken, even over the span of decades of time.
Have you spoken any of these small, slow and simple things into to your child’s life recently? …
- “I love you, and I’m proud of you.”
- “When God made you, He really made someone very special.”
- “Mom and Dad love you more than anything else in the world, and God loves you even more than we do.”
- “God’s got something amazing in store for your life!”
- “You are so much fun!”
- “You brighten my life!”
- “No matter what you’re doing, remember that God deserves your very best.”
What small, slow or simple conversation could you have with your child today that could leave a life-long imprint on their heart? Remember, your words today have the power to become their memories tomorrow.
Maybe it’s about time you pulled your child close, looked them in the eyes, and said something intentional that could change their life.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11