When I was a kid, my dad built our house from the foundation to the roof—with his own hands. It took him five years of weekends and pay-as-he-went trips to the hardware store, but in the end, my parents moved into a sparkling new home filled with sunshine and a deep sense of accomplishment.
Building wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.
I feel the same way about my relationships.
In parenting, marriage, friendships—we have a choice. We can build others up or tear them down.
The Bible says a lot about which choice is best.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one with her own hands tears hers down.” (Proverbs 14:1)
What does this look like in parenting?
Remind the kids who gives them strength. The point of building up is not to fuel our kids with self-reliance or arrogance but rather confidence in the fact that God is working in them. He created them, He loves them, He is their source of wisdom and strength, and He will not let them down.
Watch your tone of voice. We can say the same thing with kind words or harsh words; kind words are more effective and life-giving. Are you listening to yourself when you speak to your kids? Would you want someone to speak to you that way?
Look for the positive. Let’s be careful how many times we point out a child’s bad behavior vs. affirming their good behavior. Encourage godly choices when you see them. Compliment more than you criticize. You just might start to notice those “good” choices are more abundant than you feared.
Cite Scripture when recognizing accomplishments, not just in moments of punishment or correction. God is just as present in our joys as He is in our sorrows and mistakes. Reminding our kids of that truth will build them up toward Christ.
Be a safe place where kids feel free to share honest questions and emotions, where they can make mistakes without condemnation, and where they know they are loved unconditionally. In other words, let’s reflect Jesus to our children. That is a most worthy approach for every parent, in every situation.
When we choose day by day, moment by moment to be a builder—to build our children up even in moments of discipline or correction—we’re not just building their character and confidence. We’re also building something else.
A legacy—of speaking truth in love.
Now that is an accomplishment worth working toward.