I write these recommendations to encourage others to read. I do not intend to provide a critical review, but to provide insights to what God has taught me through the authors I read. When I look at books on my shelf, I want to recall at least one thing that I learned in the book. If I can do this, I consider the reading of the book a success. My desire is to get you interested enough to read the book so that you can learn and grow along with me. Don’t take my word for it, read the book for yourself. But for now, here is what I learned.
First, I must say that the title is misleading. It is not deceptive in that it does not address our words that we use with our children. The author applies these truths splendidly. However, the principles taught in the book are necessary for every relationship where we use communication in any way. It is better understood as a primer for a theology of words.
There are several ideas that initially stand out in the book. I love the concept that Smith often repeats throughout the book that our words are to image God. Ephesians 4:23-24 speak to the fact that we are created in the image of God and therefore we image God to the world around us. A thought that now flows through my mind regularly is, “Are my words rightly imaging God to those I am speaking to and to those that are listening?”
Bill Smith also reminds us that every interaction with our kids, and anyone else we speak with, is an invitation into a deeper relationship or an act of pushing others away. Do people respond to my words with a desire to know me better or with a warning to stay clear of me?
Our conversations are directly linked to what we worship. If we worship God, then our conversation will point others to the God we worship. If we worship achievement, efficiency, respect, being needed, or being right, then our conversation will point to things we worship other than God.
The book is divided into four sections: Vision, Hope, Encouragement, and Honesty. Vision points to how we want to use our words. Hope reminds us that even when we fail with our words, God is greater than our failure and can work His purposes. Encouragement reminds us that we must use our words carefully, but this is no reason to lie or deceive with our words. We can speak words of truth while building up one another. Honesty helps us to see that our words act as mirrors to those we are speaking with. Honesty further helps us to address our failures and need for forgiveness. The last two chapters deal with forgiveness in a thorough, encouraging, and biblical way.
One biblical illustration that appears in chapters 10-13 is from the life of Abraham. I have never so closely identified with Abraham. The illustrations are humorous (mostly because they are so close to home, although I personally have not attempted to give my wife away to any world leaders), thought provoking, and encouraging. God’s glory is vividly portrayed for us to respond with awe. It is amazing that God uses us!
I have read the book multiple times and have had several discussions regarding the book. I highly commend the book to you if you are a person who ever uses words. I also am grateful to the author who has discussed the book with me and a small group from our church. He is the same person that wrote the book. I know that sounds odd, but He is biblically focused, humble, gracious, knowledgeable, and nice. I have appreciated our limited interactions and could easily see us becoming life-long friends.
Thanks to William P. Smith for this exceptional book on our words.
Title: Parenting with Words of Grace: Building Relationships with Your Children One Conversation at a Time
Author: William P. Smith