I recently facilitated a group study with some friends on a book by John Eldredge called “Wild at Heart”. It was really an eye opening study for me because it stirred memories of my childhood. Deep in this study two words presented themselves, “Fatal Words”. Honestly…I haven’t stopped thinking about their application by fathers, mothers, and leaders.
Let’s first address these at the fatherhood and motherhood levels. As fathers and mothers our words are just as important if not more so to a child’s life as our love. To a young son he needs to hear the words of affirmation. He needs to hear that “he is a fine young man”, or to hear the reinforcements of “how to treat a lady”, or more importantly to hear that he has what it takes to overcome the trials in life. To a young girl, she need to hear “how beautiful she is”, or to hear that she has what it takes to become whatever she wants to be. Affirmation is a very powerful tool in the early development years of our young men and women. Without it society fails!
But sadly, too often parents are caught up in the demands of everyday living and raising children that all too easily the wrong words roll from our lips. Then just like that… without much less a thought, we have placed in the heart s of those we love, a fatal wound. Failing to support the young hearts and minds of those entrusted to us by the words we use is akin to throwing a dagger to their hearts. How we as parents all too often actually set kids up for failure by the use of words.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. — Matthew 25:40
But let’s not confuse “every day” life with being plain selfish! How interesting it is to see how we get enthralled with reality TV shows when at the same time, we do all we can to escape the reality in which we live. And who’s heart and minds have we forgotten while searching for that disconnect from “reality”…our children. Let us not forget that “reality” is real. My simple judgment tells me that “Reality TV” is no more than a tool used to separate you from the reality of life, and to draw you into something that is far less than real.
These wounds suffered by our children are often heard to detect because the damage is so deep. You and I have witnessed some of these acts, if not, certainly the results. Take a look at our society and you will see the carnage left behind by the absence of, and the selfishness of, fathers and mothers. It usually happen like this…”you are an idiot”, or “you’ll never be anything” or, your just like so and so”. We may use these phrases tongue in cheek and intend to hurt no one, but certainly we know there are many more phrases much worse than these, that have the same chilling effects. But like the arrow from a bow, once it leaves we cannot put it back. We cannot erase the damage our absence and neglect has done.
Let’s make no bones about this. When young men and women fail to get the affirmation at home from their parents, three things tend to happen:
- The kids start acting out, usually in their early teen years, “demanding attention”. If not given attention, this could easily result in the use of alcohol and drugs, or run in’s with law enforcement.
- We drive them to “someone” who will give them affirmation they are seeking. This could easily happen in the early teen years, but usually the mid to late teen years, and will end in sexual promiscuity, prostitution, stealing, bullying ect…the list goes on.
- The last is the MOST IMPORTANT! — When we have neglected our obligations as parents to supply and support the needs of our children mentally, physically and physiologically, where the result of that neglect forces them to an alternate lifestyle…we have FORCED them to accept worldly idols as their gods! One would ask, what is a god? Essentially, it is anything that demands your time, resources, and energy as a substitute to honoring the One who created you, and prohibits you from doing what you were created for.
And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. — Mark 9:42
Another product of neglecting our teen’s needs is filling the huge void created in their lives by our absence. To fill that void, many, when able to work, turn into workaholics. From a leadership perspective, where have we failed to recognize these symptoms?
Where have we unknowingly or knowingly “capitalized” on these weaknesses by working workaholics’ longer hours usually with no resistance from them?
Where have we as leaders fallen short by using those same phrases as daggers to the hearts of potential quality leaders?
Have we allowed the cynicism that comes with such words to cloud our vision in detecting and supporting such potential leaders?
Because we have conquered the world with “success”, we are still no less than humans with a heart, a heart that has an inconsolable longing, a heart begging for love…yet still…the heart of a child, longing to hear those words of affirmation…I believe in you, I believe you have what it takes, I believe you can do it.
Come on men, women, leaders, I challenge you, STAND UP, be more vigilant with the hearts and minds of those entrusted to you by our Creator! I believe we all have what to takes to be what God designed us to be.