Out of the Mouthes of Babes
By Kate Motaung
Several years ago, I took my three-year-old daughter to the gym for some special time together in the pool. As we put our things in the locker room, my daughter suddenly started belting out the lyrics to a worship song she had heard at home earlier that day.
The rest of the locker room was virtually silent – full of women who didn’t know each other, going about their own business. My first instinct was to shush my little girl and her impromptu solo – but something stopped me…
I realized that many of the women around us probably hadn’t heard the good news of the gospel. A number of them likely didn’t attend church. I doubted that many of them listened to Christian radio. And yet here they were, in the most unlikely of places, hearing words of gospel truth in their ears – straight out of the mouth of a three-year-old.
Instead of giving in to my embarrassment, I let my daughter keep singing – and as she sang, I prayed that the words from her lips would penetrate the hearts of those who heard.
Then it dawned on me – if my daughter hadn’t learned the words to that worship song, she never would’ve sung it in the locker room.
It took an awkward situation to make me realize a simple truth: what goes in is what will come out.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand just how much this applies to parenting.
As a general rule, what goes in to our kids is what will come out. They’re sponges. They soak up every little drop that comes near to them – and what they absorb, they will pour out. As it says in Luke 6:45, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
A couple years after the locker room incident, I was paying for groceries at the store when my two-year-old son looked up at the cashier and said proudly, “Hola. Soy Dora!” (By the way, his name is not Dora.) He had picked up a line from an episode of Dora the Explorer, and regurgitated it to a perfect stranger.
What goes in must come out.
So the question is, what are our kids soaking up? What songs are we teaching them? Are we helping them to memorize Scripture, and hide it away in their hearts? Are they primarily fed by the television, or do we take time to nourish their souls with rich books, artwork and music?
Do we model the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Or do they see us snapping with impatience and bitterness?
Do we show them what it means to repent and ask for forgiveness, in hopes that one day, they will do the same? Or do we bear grudges and hunker down with unforgiven sin and hardened hearts?
Whatever the case, our kids notice. They’re much smarter than we realize, and they pick up on even the slightest nuances and responses. They read our body language and our facial expressions. What messages are we sending?
Let’s ask the Lord to search our hearts, and help us to commit to honoring Him and our children with what we pour into their lives. As parents, we have the wonderful privilege of filling our kids with truth and a solid foundation in Christ. Let’s not waste this God-given opportunity.
You never know how the Lord might use them – even in a gym locker room.
Kate Motaung grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan before spending ten years in Cape Town, South Africa. She is married to a South African and together they have three children. Kate is the author of the e-book, Letters to Grief, hosts the Five Minute Friday blog link-up, and has contributed to several other online publications. She blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Twitter @k8motaung.