I don’t remember exactly what the argument was about, but I do remember that I alienated a good portion of my lunch table. I think we had gotten into a discussion about religion, and in my young-teen-self’s usual overzealous way, I had gone a little too far as I had explained the realities of heaven and hell to my non-Christian friends.
When I got home, I told my mom about the conversation and wasn’t quite sure where I had gone wrong. She told me that while it was good that I was “prepared to give an answer,” part of 1 Peter 3:15, I had forgotten the “with gentleness and respect” part. We talked about the importance of salt in cooking and how bland a meal is without seasoning. Then we talked about my very favorite seasoning, the garlic salt we got from the fancy spice store in the city. She read me Colossians 4:6, and we discussed what it means to have speech filled with grace.
The next day, I opened my lunch and found a tiny baggy filled with garlic salt and a note that read:
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with [GARLIC!] salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6, NIV)
I kept my little baggy of garlic salt and my mom’s note in my locker for years, and it was a helpful reminder to watch my words.
Another great reminder is this pneumonic from Girl Talk Guy Talk by Jesse Florea and Karen Whiting. They write, “There’s never too much kindness in the world, so choose to have a wise mouth” [emphasis added].
Make an effort to control your emotions, so you can control your tongue.
Open your mouth only after thinking.
Use words to make a positive difference.
Touch someone with encouraging words.
Heal hurt feelings by asking for and giving forgiveness.
I have one last way to remind your kids to use kind words. IOS stickers for their iPhones or iPods! I was a teen long before texting and social media were so prominent, but I’m sure if they had been around, I could have used some digital reminders to control my tongue. Download these free stickers for your kids to use in their texting conversations as reminders to stay positive and kind. There are fun stickers, such as paper airplanes and French fries, and serious stickers, such as Bibles and crosses. Sprinkle them into your texts like salt.
Jesse Doogan is an acquisitions editor for children and youth at Tyndale House Publishers. She graduated with a degree in Communications from Moody Bible Institute in 2009 and started at Tyndale in 2010. Jesse worked in e-book distribution and marketing for six years, where she kept a close eye on publishing trends. Jesse brings her experience managing details and relationships to the Kids Team, where she keeps track of books as they go through the publishing process and reviews new manuscripts. Jesse believes that the books you read as a child are the books that shape you for the rest of your life, and she is passionate about using literature to reach kids for Christ.
For more books for kids and teens, head to tyndale.com/kids.