Whether he succeeds or fails, what are the words you are speaking over him?
Week after week, dozens of parents gather in the stands to follow their children’s soccer tournament. Each one of them makes comments about the refereeing or the play of their favorite little footballer, creating a monumental hubbub
As a novice, I was watching this interesting spectacle when suddenly my handsome left-handed striker got the ball and tried to shoot the goal that would finally lead his team to victory. Even though I don’t understand any of the rules of soccer, the soccer mom in me stands up (to the surprise of all the parents around me) and shouts Rafael’s name with all my might to encourage my little blond boy who looks like Antoine Griezmann.
We all thought the ball would go in the back of the net and it just missed. Rafael had heard my encouragement, he had recognized my voice (everyone did!) but it wasn’t enough.
At that very moment, the referee’s whistle sounded and the game was over. The sentence was pronounced: the cup wouldn’t be coming home.
My son remains silent but his whole body expresses his immense disappointment. We were so close, to say the least.
I go to meet him and take him in my arms: my mother’s heart would prefer to suffer in his place than to see him in this state.
It is then that one knee on the ground, I voluntarily put myself at his height, and take his sad face between my hands. The words come out of my mouth like a stream on a dry land: “You played well, you did your best. Even though you didn’t win today, you learned, and you know what you’re going to have to work on more during practice with your team. I’m proud of you, you didn’t give up, you fought to the end. You are an outstanding soccer player in victory or defeat. I love you.” A word of encouragement during a setback is worth far more than an hour of praise after a success.
We have all, at one time or another, been touched by a word of encouragement from someone. Especially in the most difficult times.
As parents, we have a “voice” in our children’s lives. God has given us this wonderful and difficult task of teaching our children (“Teach the child the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6). Very early on, they spend a lot of time at school, with teachers, educators and other students who are not always well-meaning. They are sometimes in an environment that is not as healthy as we would like. My first reaction as a mother would be to protect, or even, let’s be honest, to cover my child so that nothing happens to him.
Yet our role as fathers and mothers is to arm our child with the necessary tools to be protected, confident and convinced of their identity in Jesus.
It is crucial that we take the time to listen to our child when they come home from school and for those children who don’t talk (or just say “yeah, it was cool today”), it is up to us to initiate the conversation and ask questions!
Our children are sensitive to everything that is going on around them. Clearly, they are like sponges, but it is not our society that will show them the way: it is your voice. Just as, we recognize His voice, as followers of Jesus (“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” John 10:27) our children recognize ours. On what path will your voice lead your child today?
Our role is to set the record straight in the face of all that they see in our society, all that they hear, all that they face daily. The truth is found in Jesus and in the Word of God. You have a voice as a parent and spiritual leader of your child. That voice is only stronger and more powerful when it resonates in unison between the father and mother. Hence the importance of unity as a couple. And if your child is growing up in a single-parent family, I pray that God will make your voice sound twice as loud: In Jesus, you have the power to “call into existence what does not yet exist.” (Romans 4:17)
When Jesus passed through the waters of baptism, God the Father affirmed the identity of His Son in a loving relationship: “And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus must have remembered this powerful statement when he was led into the wilderness immediately afterwards.
Our words of affirmation and belonging, filled with love, strengthen and arm our children. You have a voice in your child’s life.
Start declaring God’s promises on his life. Not just when you pray for him as he sleeps, but also in your conversations over dinner. Pray with him on the way to school. This reassures him and affirms God’s protection over his life.
When you take the time to listen to your child’s voice, you hear his concerns, his doubts, his questions. Sometimes there is a huge gap between what he experiences at home and what he experiences at school. Your voice, filled with divine wisdom, will bring him the peace he needs in difficult situations, in his tense relationships with his classmates, his teachers. Your voice can change the atmosphere: “Kind words are like a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and good for the body.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Little by little, by affirming words of biblical truths about your child, you sow seeds of faith, perseverance, forgiveness, and trust in his life. As the years go by, his relationship with Jesus will be stronger, his roots will be deeper and will allow him to stand firm in the storm, anchored in the truth of his identity in Jesus.
You have a voice in your child’s life. Align your words to the Word of God.
Start making a list of all the promises you declare about your child’s life and share that with him or her in a quality time together.
“The Lord God teaches me what to say to encourage the one who has no strength. Every morning He wakes me up to listen like a good disciple.” Isaiah 50:4
Co-Campus Pastor – Hillsong Lyon