Words play an important role in every family. Marriages begin with “I love you” and vows that include “I do” or “I will”. Children are born and we quickly learn the art of baby talk. We anxiously await the first words of our children. Words are a part of the fabric of every family.
King Solomon is often referred to as the wisest person that ever lived, and the book of Proverbs contains many of his words. He writes “My children, listen when your father corrects you. Pay attention and learn good judgment, for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my instructions. For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved as my mother’s only child.” (Proverbs 4:1-3 NLT). Here Solomon offers insight into some some specific types of words that need to be present in every family. Let’s take a look at what these words are and hopefully raise our level of awareness of these need for these in our own family.
We often think of correction as the need to change the behavior of children but we all need correction from time to time. Correction is not punishment. Discipline without love is punishment. Discipline with love is correction. Every family unit needs correction. Love challenges our motives and should motivate us to be aware of exactly what we are saying and how we are saying it. Correction is always received better when we believe the person correcting us has our best interest at heart.
Words of guidance are about the bigger picture. Guidance is about values and principles that should guide us no matter what path we take through life. These things are important to everyday life, things like valuing others, being truthful or being respectful. They are principles that we believe are necessary to navigate a successful life. These are the things that we talk about throughout our lives. Things that we want our family to be known for. Continually injecting words of guidance into our family conversations build these values into the core of our family unit.
Instruction is more specific than guidance. Instruction is more about steps than direction. We all need instruction from time to time. Words of instruction help us know what we are supposed to be doing in the present moment. Instructions teach us what is expected of us as a member of the family. They affect specific actions, words and interactions. Without instruction we will often resort to assumption, leading to confusion. Instruction clarifies the roles and needs within the family which makes everything run smoother.
When relationships are new, affection is usually at the forefront of everything we do and say. We are constantly affirming our spouse or baby with words and acts of affection. Over time words of correction, guidance and instruction dominate our conversations and words of affection become less a part of our vocabulary. Affection is often the glue that holds everything together and when it is absent the family begins to disintegrate because we start to look for those words elsewhere. The longer a family unit is together, the more intentional we have to be to share words of affection.
As important as words are to the family unit, we must constantly be aware of what we are saying and what our family needs to hear. Usually our personality tends to lend itself more readily to one of these types of conversation which means we must be even more intentional about focusing on the words that are not our strength. Take a few moments and think about which of these type of words come easiest to you and which ones you need to work on.