As most of you know, I am a Youth Leader in my church. I am asked to give small devotionals for different activities and this was one of those devotionals. I really, really, really hate it when I hear my kids speaking unkindly to their brothers and sisters and we absolutely do not allow it in our home. Mostly because of the way I was raised and the way my sister treated me. You can read more about that HERE. I love her to death, but back when we were young, I really didn’t. Like, at all!
So I decided when I had kids that I would not allow my kids to bully each other or anyone else. When my kids say unkind things to each other, I make them say 10 nice things to the person they offended and I remind them that Family is the most important thing in their life. Family will always be there for them no matter what and that we should treat our family better than we treat our friends. Easier said than done, right? But I’m convinced that the more I say it, the more it will sink in.
As part of my devotional I talked to the kids about my experiences with people who hurt me with words. I am a baby when it comes to expressing my feelings so of course, I was crying. The girls in my group playfully tease me about my crying. I think they actually count how long it will take me to cry when I’m teaching. Ha!
The teens really could see how much the unkind words effected my life and I hope it really sunk in.
Words can hurt worse than a smack or a punch sometimes. We carry them with us our whole lives and can hear the unkind words over and over again in our minds. I talked to them about thinking before they speak. Asking themselves if what they are about to say will hurt or uplift. I told them to ask themselves if they may have to “eat their words” after they have been said, how sweet would they be?
I used the Hymn “Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other” to help let the lesson sink in:
Let us oft speak kind words to each other
At home or where’er we may be;
Like the warblings of birds on the heather,
The tones will be welcome and free.
They’ll gladden the heart that’s repining,
Give courage and hope from above,
And where the dark clouds hide the shining,
Let in the bright sunlight of love.
Oh, the kind words we give shall in memory live
And sunshine forever impart.
Let us oft speak kind words to each other;
Kind words are sweet tones of the heart.
I also talked to the kids about giving compliments and going out of their way to say a kind word to someone who needs it. I challenged them to say out loud what they are thinking when they think something nice about the person they are with. If they think to themselves, “I really like her shirt” I asked them to say it out loud. That person will always remember the compliment and the way they felt when they were with them.
Then I shared some parts of a Conference Talk by Linda K. Burton (I changed some of the questions to fit who I was teaching)
Sisters and brothers, how often do we intentionally “speak kind words to each other”?
We might test ourselves by asking a few questions.
- When was the last time I sincerely praised my parents, spouse or siblings, either alone or in the presence of others?
- When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pleaded in faith for someone in prayer?
- When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
- When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness—without adding the words “but if only you had” or “but if only you hadn’t”?
- When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be “right”?
With a little adaptation, these questions can apply to most of us whatever our home situation might be.
Now, if any of these questions lead you to squirm or feel a tinge of guilt, remember that Elder David A. Bednar has taught that “guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.”
I invite each of us to heed Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s heartfelt plea: “Brothers and sisters, in this long eternal quest to be more like our Savior, may we try to be ‘perfect’ men and women in at least this one way now—by offending not in word, or more positively put, by speaking with a new tongue, the tongue of angels.”
Then I handed each of the kids the gummy bears with the handout that said “Keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them”.
This devotional worked out great and I really hope some of the kids got something out of it. You never know, right?
You can print these for yourself by clicking on the image below to open in a new window. Then right click and choose “save as” then you can save to your computer and print it how ever you choose. They are made to fit a 8.5×11″ paper.