Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).
When I am older, and my pace slows, he will jog onto the field of life, take the ball from me, and run into the next generation. He will probably assume the role of a husband and maybe a father as I go to the sidelines to join that cloud of witnesses with the other aging athletes past their prime. I will become an observer of my work in his life. Your children are like moldable pieces of clay that God has given to you to shape by teaching them about God, guiding them to God, and releasing them into God’s world.
The primary way you mold your child is by the life you live before him and the words you speak to him. Do not be self-deceived about this matter: you are the most impactful picture that your child will ever see. And believe me, he is closely watching you. Each day, your child examines, ponders, analyzes, and determines if your life is worthy of his emulation. Though he will probably never tell you these things, it’s inevitable that your “life actions” are causing positive and negative reactions that will set the trajectory of your child’s life. While it is true that God can overwrite your works in your child’s life, you are not allowed to presume on His grace (Psalm 19:13).
One of the most potent ways you influence your children is your opinion of them (Proverbs 29:25). How you think about your children is connected to their greatest joys and biggest disappointments. You can lift them with your words, or you can devastate them with the things you say to them. Your comments are like ready-soldiers that march off your tongue to destroy or build up individuals. In that way, you are no different from your children: the opinion of your heavenly Father means everything to you.
Mercifully, He loves you to death (Isaiah 53:10; John 3:16). Because of His great love for you, your soul is set free to be the best child that you can be in His world. You want to model your heavenly Father’s affection for you to your kids. You want them to hear and feel your words of encouragement (Romans 2:4). You have the power to build them up, and you have the authority to tear them down. All of that power sits on your tongue and comes from your heart (Luke 6:45).
Because of the gospel, you are a beneficiary of God’s boundless love, and He calls you to imitate the Lord (Ephesians 5:1). These questions will help you examine how you’re imitating your heavenly Father to your child.