“No, thank you!” The phrase is a simple dissent, yet the “thank you” makes all the difference. It takes a word that feels rather harsh on my tongue and molds it into something sweet, polite, and quite lovely. And since my two year old is a certified professional in the art of mimicking, I pray each morning for the grace of God to consume me so that I might speak in a way I want him to emulate.
Speaking to others with respect and courtesy, even when it’s most difficult, is something
I expect of my children. Because I know that God has trusted me to be an earthly model of this for my boys, when my son makes a poor choice such as spewing water from his mouth so as to transform into a water fountain, I gently correct him by simply saying, “No, thank you!” And it certainly doesn’t always come easily. I oftentimes must battle against the inclinations of my frustrated, fallen flesh toward my little human sprinkler, but the Holy Spirit urges me to recognize the safe, God-honoring space I desire to create for my sons within the walls of our home.
Using my voice toward them in a way that promotes a sense of security is one way I can
worship the God who grants me that same unconditional love. When I use respectful words with my oldest, I offer him a model of how to worship in the same way as he relates to his little brother. So when I heard him utter those three magical words (not as gently as I would have loved, but one step at a time, right?) as his little brother began a rather swift army crawl toward the puzzle he was currently solving, I couldn’t help but beam as I finished washing those dishes. And I never even think about smiling when I wash the dishes, so I knew this moment was quite extraordinary.
Because, you see, this little boy of mine had taken a very small but intentional act of worship that I had displayed for him time and time again, and in his own moment of frustration, he had chosen to model God’s kindness toward his brother. That moment gave me every confidence that the multitude of ways in which our family worships God, whether it be attending church, tithing with cheerful hearts, sponsoring a young girl from Ghana, or seeking and praising the Lord in prayer, are taking root. These acts of worship are penetrating his heart and igniting within him an undeniable desire to be the city on a hill that we are called to be.
If you would like to make God-honoring speech a priority in your home, gather around the table to brainstorm some phrases your family can use to model Christ’s love. Write out each phrase on a piece of paper, hang the papers up as reminders and then practice using the phrases throughout the week at home, at school, and at extracurricular activities. Touch base the following week to discover how your children were able to share God’s love with each other and in your community!