“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.”
I spent some time on a public Jr. High school campus this week. The words that were being spoken were far from encouraging. It was rough. It felt as though the kids were striving for every word out of their mouth to be a “burn” on someone else. I see this in many social gatherings, including kids of all ages and adults. These discouraging words are justified by “JK” or “just teasing”. Words being spoken are not only “not encouraging” but “discouraging.” They are not meant to build up but to break down. With a world full of discouragement and a culture where speaking encouraging words is just plain weird, we need to be extra diligent to create an opposing culture in our homes. I desire a culture in my home where encouragement is the norm and it is not acceptable to speak words that are meant to break down
Here are some small practical steps that we can take in our families to create an encouraging environment:
- Model – I know, I know-this is the first step in nearly everything we’re talking about when we look at Family Discipleship. But, here we go again—kids will do what they see us do, not what they hear us say to do!! Speak encouragement to your spouse, friends, parents, and the children in your life. (See my post “You are Beautiful” or “God loves You” for more ideas)
- Practice – Speaking encouraging words doesn’t come naturally to most kids. Take time to practice. My favorite practice places are in the car, on a walk or at the kitchen table. What are yours? You can focus on one person (this is especially appropriate on a special day-birthday, graduation, etc.) and have each family member take turns speaking encouraging words to an individual. Or you can each pick a person to say something encouraging to—draw names, pick the person on your right, etc.
- Challenge- After kids have seen encouragement in action and practiced in the safety of their own family they are ready for a challenge. Challenge your kids to build others up around them out in their world. Pick a person (like a friend or a teacher). Pick a method (like spoken word or a note). Pick a deadline (like by the end of the week or day). On the deadline come back together to report to your family how it went and decide what the next challenge will be.
These steps will develop lifelong habits of building others up. This is a step of discipleship as we grow more like Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate example of one who never “let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29
Please share some ideas of how you have or plan to put this into practice in your family.