The bible tells us that there is both 'DEATH and LIFE in the power of the tongue. It can be easy to think that we choose 'life' when we speak but let me tell you that 'death' sneaks in there and ZAP, does it's damage before you even know it.
Let's think about this in context of children. When we encourage them, it's deliberate and thoughtful... and pretty easy. It's often in response to something they've done and life is pretty relaxed at the moment... "mum, do you like how I just did my hair?" "sure honey, you've done a lovely job - you've been trying lots of new things with your hair, you're getting really good at it"
"mum, do you like this painting?" oh wow, what great use of colour"
or "good job, you've got all those carrots peeled for me" "your reading is coming along really well" and so on. You get the idea!
So what about 'death' in the power of the tongue?
That's when you curse your children.
Yep, you read that right. When you curse your children (or hubby, friend, self etc) Sure, not everyone does this but you'd be surprised who does.... take time to pray and ask God to show you if it's you.
Let me share with you about Ruthie. (name changed for privacy)
Ruthie was a darling little girl I nannied. I lived with her family from 7 weeks before she was born, until she was 3 and a half. I was on duty 5 days a week from 7am till about 8pm. As you could imagine, I knew Ruthie well.
One weekend after I moved out of their home and was no longer the children's nanny, Ruthie came to visit me for the weekend. We had a lovely time together! It was during this time that God showed me how careful one needs to be with their words!
I poured Ruthie a drink at dinner, into a glass as I'd done for quite some time at her place.
She looked at me in horror and said 'oh no, I need a lid! I ALWAYS spill drinks!!
First - I knew Ruthie and knew this was NOT true
Second - Kids don't come up with phrases like that by themselves!!
My guess is that 'mum', in frustration at an accidental drink spill, snapped out an "aargh! you ALWAYS spill drinks!" and immediately this girl's belief about herself and her skills was changed. When that happens, the behaviour changes too. And spilling drinks would continue to be a problem.
I would suggest that in our day to day lives, we don't recognise when we do this.
Imagine you were the mum in this situation and you had cursed your daughter in this way.
At the end of the day someone asked... "did you encourage your kids today?"... you could probably think for a couple of minutes and come up with a couple of instances.... "yes, when Sammy did his reading today I encouraged him by telling him how much his reading was improving... and when Ruthie came home from creche with a painting I complimented her on the painting and we stuck it on the fridge"
You are then asked "did you say anything that could hinder your child's growth/relationships etc?" ... you would probably again think for a couple of minutes and come up with "no, can't say that I did" unless you'd really LOST THE PLOT at them (coz that is a whole lot harder to hide from LOL)
I've seen more of this in recent years too. As I am around more parents and children now we have our own family. I am so sad for the children being spoken of, and for mine who miss out on doing some things with their friends because the curse has been spoken. A definite, no room to move statement.
"Suzie doesn't like to play outside."
"Matthew doesn't like to play with Lego."
"Lucy doesn't sit quietly in church so we sit up the back."
"Mary doesn't like board games"
"Harry always loses the library books."
and so on!
Said in front of children, **these statements are cursing your children**
They create self beliefs, reinforce self beliefs and make it almost impossible for a child to live outside your statement. Some children are being robbed of joy throughout life by these statements. Seriously!
Hours of free fun can be had from a very young age, right through life if you learn to like a board game or two! Imagine being cursed into losing your library books all through life - cruel!!
Obviously, said in private with friends or mentors as you seek to find solutions, it is not a curse. They are rarely used in this context though.
So, what are the options?
"Suzie prefers inside play and is still learning to enjoy playing outside - how about some time doing both?"
"Matthew hasn't played with Lego much - could you show him some fun things to make? Then in half an hour let Matthew choose what to play next"
"Lucy is still learning to sit quietly in church"
"Mary is still learning to play/enjoy playing board games - which one might she like most?"
"Harry is learning to keep track of his library books - he's getting better since we chatted about keeping them in the same place'
Choose your phrases carefully. Choose life!
What about your friends?
X is always late
X always cancels at the last minute
X never listens
Using statements like these, even in your own mind, can curse your relationship with people because you're stopping yourself looking for and seeing growth in people. These statements assume there is no growth to be seen! How sad to view your loved ones in this way.
Oh Lord, open my eyes and keep me aware of the way I speak of others and of myself. Show me where my words can give life instead of death. Change my heart that I may always look to encourage growth in all whose paths I cross. May I not limit anyone, myself included, with curses that can sneak into my thought life or into my conversations with people. Amen.