Sometimes parents don’t realize the power of their tongue for life in their children. Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) says that the tongue has the power of life or death and this is especially true when it comes to a child.

You’ve probably witnessed a child cringing and withering under the intense verbal lashing of an adult. Teachers and coaches can wield this power but parents have an even weightier effect in the words that escape their mouth.

When a parent beams and encourages with the words, “I’m proud of you ,” “I believe in you,” “you’re a champ,” “that was so good,” etc, there is a deep sense of worth that is passed on. The scriptural image of blessing comes to mind as life flows from the older to the younger. Words really do shape us and often act as invisible guides for our thoughts and actions.

When it comes to the year long investment required through the 12 Tasks there is a lot of opportunity for encouragement, blessing and life-giving affirmation. There is also the constant edgy chance that your own impatience, self-focus and busyness may prompt an inadvertent word of death that deflates the energy needed to complete the rite of passage.

Words that hurt us, scarred us or deflated us in our own growing years may escape our tongues and reap an unhealthy harvest in the character, identity and confidence of our own offspring. Years may pass but the emotional impact can surface at inopportune moments. 12 Tasks gives us a chance to review our own character, health and relationships. The healthier we are the healthier our own children can be. The sins of the parents really do get passed on to the third and fourth generations.

Not all the young teens in your community will be engaging in rites of initiation to adulthood and the words of others, peers or adults, may be derogatory and deflating. Your words, as a parent or grandparent, are essential to keep the challenge alive and the energized focus kindled.

The book of Proverbs finds many ways to prompt us on the value of our life-giving words. We read that our words can be sweet like honey that bring health to the body. We read that encouraging words can cheer us up. The right words are satisfying to the soul.

Perhaps you’ve received a timely letter or phone call that let you know how important your influence or action was in the life of another. While we’re busy influencing the outside world we can’t dare ignore the most important ones in our life. A mountain of anxiety, fear and dread can melt away with a timely word of support.

The strongest, life-giving words are the softest words. Words shared with gentleness, respect, understanding. As a parent of the next generation leader please make the effort to hone your words toward life. If you need support for your efforts with the 12 Tasks please reach out to us or to someone in your community who can share their own words of life with you.