Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The words we speak...

“I’m not sure what job I am going to do. God has to choose that and he hasn’t told me yet.”

So said a young child recently, obviously absorbing a lot of conversation around him and making him see his future through a particular worldview: God is in charge and he will wait. 

Children are known to quickly copy the words of parents, teachers, and others they listen to intently. I can clearly recall one of the first times that I heard one of my students using phrases and expressions that I had used earlier in various lessons about truth and grace at the auspicious occasion of a grade eight valedictorian speech. While in part it was quite honoring and satisfying to hear that they had grasped the essential understanding of the lesson, the immensity of the responsibility of a person of influence was very clear: children watch and listen to those around them constantly. As they are deciphering how life works, they take in every word, every action, and often mull it over internally, only for it to come out in a comment hours, days, or even weeks later. We should never discount the pow-er of our words with children, since they are seeds sown in the ripe field of childhood that create either fruit or lingering struggle in the future. Paired with actions, they become the first road map our children follow as they learn to walk in faith. 

While children generally listen passively to those around them talk about the walk of faith, we know 
they are listening when they speak up and comment about how faith and practice, in their minds, are 
not in sync. Or when a parent has not done what they ask a child to do. These conversations, although they often come during the hardest or most inconvenient times, present us with the opportunity to meet our children’s hopes and fears straight on. They can also challenge us to reflect, and think. How many times have we been challenged by the simplest of questions by a child that has left us speechless as to how to respond?

I heard it said once that we don’t know the kind of fruit we are producing until we are squeezed. The 
gospel of Luke speaks of the same: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45). 
Words chosen carefully are a blessing to our children who are taking this world on, one challenge at 
a time.


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