A mother once wrote to me and shared the following:
“I had to run to the store, so I told my 11-year-old son to make sure he stayed focused on his math. As I was leaving the house, I shouted out a follow-up and said, ‘The work should be done by the time I get back.’ Apparently my tone and body language threatened him with negative consequences if it was not done. When I returned, I found a totally stressed out, sobbing child. In my wisdom I immediately thought, ‘He’s been goofing off and he’s trying to play me to get me to help him.’
After I reviewed the reality of higher math with him, explained that it gets harder, told him things wouldn’t always be easy for him, and so forth, my son looked at me and said, ‘Mom, I’m not afraid of the math. I was afraid of getting into trouble with you. The only thing that was going through my head was that it needed to be done before you got back.’ Then it dawned on me; my son is a pleaser and all he wants to do is please me. How could I be so blind? I totally stressed him out! We talked; I asked for forgiveness and we hugged.”
I once heard a practical thought that can help us overcome our tendency to overreact and govern others with power and pride. “Suspend judgment and be kind.”1 I have said this to myself over and over again-“Suspend judgment and be kind.” I think this is what Paul was communicating in Ephesians 4 when he wrote:
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
1. Sweatman, Steve. Personal Interview. April 2012.