The Impact of Your Words and Your Walk
You know that one day when you were driving to work, steaming cup of hot coffee in hand, conversation with a client on your Bluetooth in your ear, and your brain only slightly registered the stop sign in front of you? Yeah. That was me yesterday.
That stop sign is only about two miles from my house. I see it and obey it pretty well every day as I come and go…except yesterday. Mid sip of coffee and mid conversation with that client, I looked both ways and proceeded out into the intersection. No sooner had I completed that turn did I see those familiar flashing lights and sirens behind me. You see, that stop sign – in my distracted brain – simply meant be safe, look for cars, but don’t necessarily come to a complete stop. Whoops. (Fun fact: stop signs mean stop.)
As our friendly neighborhood trooper started walking toward my car, I rolled down my window, smiled and said, “I completely did not stop at that stop sign!” He laughed, took my license and registration and promptly came back with a ticket. I shook his hand, and drove off calculating how much this was going to cost me.
I tell you that story to say this: if we want our kids to take responsibility for their actions, it starts with us.
How often do they bear witness to us blaming a co-worker for an error on a team project? How often do they silently stand by while we attempt to argue our way out of a ticket? How many times do they see us deflect or defer blame for an uncompleted task in our homes? If we are honest – often. Ouch. Guilty, party of one over here.
It is exceedingly important to remember that we cannot simply attempt to imprint important concepts upon their little hearts with proclamations of, “Why don’t you just take responsibility for your actions?!” when they simply don’t see it being lived out from the one they look to most. It takes an immense amount of transparency and vulnerability to admit you made a mistake, to admit you messed something up and certainly to humbly ask for forgiveness when you hurt someone’s feelings.
These concepts are not innately present in our children. Instead, their hearts are pre-wired for defensiveness, deflection of blame and they are masters of eluding responsibility. In order to override that, these concepts have to be taught and nurtured, and above all else, modeled by those they are closest to.
There are two main themes that are ever present in my home bursting with boys: 1) See a need, meet a need. And 2) Take responsibility for your actions. Am I careful to speak these truths into them… yes? But it doesn’t stop there. It’s a two-sided coin of both verbalizing what it is I need from them, but also demonstrating how these conceptual principles are lived out. With that being said I leave you with two reminders. Always come to a complete stop at stop signs, and always realize and remember just how impactful your words and your walk are in the lives of your children.