One Thing You Must Teach Your Children

It was 2009, and I was in Trenton, FL. I was riding with Ricky. He was taking me to his house, after I spoke for his church.

I had been investing heavily in the lives of a number of college students at the time, and his daughter was one of them. He was an elder in his church, and he invited me to speak.

We had a twenty minute drive to his house, and I knew enough about him to know that I didn’t want to let this opportunity pass me by. I had to pick his brain about something.

But what?

Parenting? Being a husband? Being a strong Christian? Facing trials?

And then it hit me

Leadership.

He was a leader in his family, his company, and his church. But he wasn’t just a leader because of his position. He oozed godliness in everything he did. Based on just my limited understanding of godly leadership, I was struck by things I noticed about him right away.

His eye contact with people, and how his eyes showed that he cared about everything you were going through.
He was a great listener, and everything about him, including his eyes, communicated that what you were saying was important to him.

He was “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” (James 1:19-20)

He spoke and people listened. His wife, his children, everyone at his church…even the other elders. And every word he said had meaning.

So, leadership won the lottery.

“Ricky, there are things I see in you that I don’t see in everybody. And it’s obvious that people respect you as a leader, especially your wife and children. I would love to just sit and listen to you talk about leadership.”

“Well, out of everything I’ve ever learned about leadership, I think I can summarize it all into one thing.”

I thought to myself, “Really? No one says that…everyone talks about success not being accessed by a single key, but by a combination lock; multiple keys. If he has one thing that is this noteworthy to him, this has got to be good. Then I prayed, “God, PLEASE help me remember this!”

He said, “I think the greatest lesson on leadership I could give you is never sacrifice truth for peace. It’s always easier to do in the moment. But, inevitably, sacrificing truth for peace always creates more problems than it’s worth. And sometimes, you might not even see how bad the consequences are for years. And if you’re not careful, you might not even recognize the connection. But always, every single time, you never want to sacrifice truth for peace. Doing what is right, and acknowledging and following truth, is always the best course of action–no matter how hard it may feel at the time.”

Wow. I had no words. I just let it sink in.

I think he kept talking about the concept, with some generic, conceptual examples. I don’t remember everything he said, but I remember the lesson.

What does that mean to me as a dad?

Well, have you ever (like me) let your child go on doing something that needed correction, just because you were tired and simply wanted “peace?”

Have you ever let someone get away with saying something that wasn’t true, and you knew they were stretching the truth, but you thought you were giving them grace (even though the stretching of the truth would create misunderstandings an problems)?

One time I was in an environment where some people were getting on to me about causing trouble. I recognized a trend that could end up very badly for us. I kept my mouth shut because I didn’t want more flak about causing trouble. When the fallout came from what was happening, I repented and went to God for forgiveness. I saw the trouble coming, and I could have stopped it. I kept my mouth shut. I sacrificed truth for peace.

Ultimately, when our salvation is based on responding appropriately to truth (1 Peter 1:22-23), arguably the greatest thing we can teach our children is to embrace truth, no matter what. In doing so, they will grow character, backbone, and a loving, humble, gentle sense of fighting for what’s right.

Jesus said, “I am the truth, the life, and the way.” (John 14:6)

He also said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

In a world where it is easier than ever to deceive others, and even ourselves, we can do no better thing for our children than to teach them to embrace truth.

Think about it. It is impossible for God to lie. (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18) And Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44–what Jesus said a few breaths after he said the truth will set you free in verse 32)

We glorify God by embracing truth, and we glorify Satan by twisting truth.

Even in social media, countless people complain that they feel inadequate compared to other people, when many people post their best ‘stuff’ on social media. The pictures of their house when it is clean. The successes of them and their family. Their greatest pearls of wisdom. These are all great things to share. We are supposed to rejoice with people who rejoice. (Romans 12:15)

But we also live in a world where sexual predators can falsify their identity easier, and people can present themselves dishonestly, even with a fake name.

Learn from Ricky.

Sacrificing truth, in any aspect, always creates more problems than it’s worth.

Let me give you some personal examples, of people that have been close to me over the years, where sacrificing truth for peace led to horrible consequecnes. You probably have someone close to you that parallels every example, whether you know it or not.

  • Hiding a pornography addiction eventually led to adultery, and a broken marriage.
  • Not holding a child accountable when they are young, and then they don’t respect any authority when they are teenagers, even God’s authority, and they live a spiritual double life. What’s most important to them is social acceptance, and avoiding accountability. And they struggle spiritually because they never have intimacy with God, or anyone else.
  • A man hiding a gambling addiction. He never told his wife that their spending (combined with the gambling) was exceeding their income. Their savings evaporated, and they lost their home.

***By the way, most of the times when parents lose their temper, it’s because they sacrificed truth for ‘peace’ much earlier, and the behavior of their child has gone beyond the pale.

Never sacrifice truth, for peace. Your example of embracing truth, even if it means you need to repent in front of your family and ask their forgiveness, is one of the greatest things you can model for your children.

May this be a blessing to you.

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