Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
The question every caring parent must answer is, “Who is going to teach my child the culture’s language?” This kind of training begins with a transcending and overarching parenting goal: to love God and love others more than anything else (Matthew 22:36-40). As your child learns this unique two-tiered worldview about loving God and others, you can begin laying down a sound language strategy that will consist of three parts:
With a God-loving, other-centered worldview in place, you will be able to instruct your child to rise above the unedifying noise of our culture. Your leadership is wiser than turning language training over to someone who does not believe the way you do. You want your children to learn the words of our culture, what the words mean, and how and when to use the world’s language. It takes more maturity to use words correctly and biblically than to use them harmfully.
You can walk through any crowded public venue and hear that people do not know how to use words redemptively. They know words, but they do not know how to use them to build up others, motivating any parent to take the lead in language learning. Your children will not always watch G and PG movies or always live in a G and PG world. Your hope is when the world comes knocking, your kids won’t be vulnerable to its temptations but be able to intelligently, humbly, courageously engage their culture.
These six tips will help you as you instruct your child. But before you can teach your child, you want to assess your use of words. These tips start with you.
1 – Do not be hung up about words. Words are words. You do not have to giggle when you say penis or feel like you’ve gotten away with something when you say damn. The more significant issue is the motive behind your words (Luke 6:45).
2 – Consider your audience. Do your words uplift and build up or do they degrade and tear down. The gospel is more about others rather than about you. Always be thinking of others. Never use your freedom as a right to do as you please.
3 – What is your motive? Make sure your heart is saturated by the gospel when you speak. Let the words of your mouth come from a heart treasure informed by the gospel. If so, your speech will be redemptive.
4 – Are you a crude dude? Regularly assess yourself. What has the feedback been from those closest to you? How do they perceive, understand, and think about your speech patterns?
5 – Have your words weighed. Most people will not give honest and critical feedback about the more profound matters of the heart. You will have to pursue it. Do not be afraid to seek out your friends to serve you with their assessment of your speech patterns.
6 – Are you an encourager? Do the people around you feel more encouraged or discouraged after spending time with you? How does your speech affect others? Are you characterized as a “redemptive builder” by your words?