Monday, July 12, 2010

Say What?!

"Mom, Dakota called and he can't come to the swim party tonight. His brother got shocked and still isn't feeling very good," Jot yelled down the basement steps to me.

"Say what?!"

"He said his brother got shocked and doesn't feel good, so they can't come."

I admit my heart stopped for a moment when I heard this. Dakota's brother just turned a year old and my mind flew with possibilities. Did he bite into a cord? Stick something in an outlet? Get too near a window during a thunderstorm?

Then my logical brain took over. I guessed if Dakota's mom had the presence of mind to remember to call us, she would have explained herself that her baby was nearly electrocuted rather than have her 7-year old deliver the news. So, he just turned a year old about two weeks ago...babies go to the doctor a lot...shocked...shots? Shots! That's it! He must have gotten shots and wasn't feeling well. Whew!

I sent Dakota's mom a message and checked on the health and welfare of her baby and, sure enough, the immunizations were the problem. But imagine the havoc I could have caused had I reported Jot's misinformed news.

Today is Town Crier's Day and that got me to thinking about messages. If it's one thing kids will teach you, it's to watch what you say, when you say it, and how you say it, because you can be certain you (or worse yet, someone else) will hear your words again. And sometimes they come back to bite you in the rear!

I used to teach the 2-year old Sunday school class at church and nothing made my heart beat faster or my skin crawl than to have a child ask me, "You wanna know what my mom/dad said?" Oh, honey, please don't tell me. I scrapbook with your mom. I have to see you dad during offering. You have no idea the things I learned that year!

Apparently this is not a new problem. Writing to the early church, Luke commended the Bereans for their noble character, saying, "they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." The Bereans had learned a valuable lesson--always check your facts.

We need to check the facts when we hear something about someone that simply goes outside everything you've ever known. If you hear gossip about someone and you think "That's not like him/her"--chances are you're right. I don't know how many times I've heard a bit of gossip about someone only to learn later the "reporter" had it all wrong.

We need to check our facts when it comes to our kids. Make it difficult for your kids to pull one over on you. Check with other parents. Check dates and times of events. Check that they end up where they say they are going. I know of several kids whose parents thought they spent every Sunday morning in church. The reality is they put in an appearance, snuck out, and spend a few hours drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.

We need to check our facts when someone in authority tells us something. Reliable pastors, teachers, news sources, and bosses support their facts with sources and citations. If your pastor doesn't tell you the reference for a Biblical quote, ask for it and look it up yourself. If a teacher cites a study, ask for the data or the link to a website. Question not to be annoying or difficult, but to be informed and to show yourself responsible for your own knowledge. Just always remember to be respectful when you question authority. A man or woman of integrity will welcome your desire to verify. Mistakes happen. But let it stop with you.

There is a lesson in this for us as adults too. If you are a parent, a teacher, a minister, a boss, any type of authority figure, you must be humble enough to allow those under you to question. It requires us to be more diligent, more thorough, more honest in our dealings with others and in what we say. It requires us to be on our toes, to be willing to say "I don't know", or to maybe even say "I was wrong." It allows us to grow. And isn't that what we all want anyway?


  1. I used to teach elementary school and each time we had a parent-teacher meeting, I'd open with this:
    "If you won't believe everything your child says about me, I won't believe everything your child says about you."

    That usually would break the ice and help the parent see that this communication through his child was sometimes imperfect, that we needed to talk when something came up that was disturbing.

    I love this post because this kind of thing happens all the time. And it sometimes is hurtful and turns into a mess when it didn't need to. That's why Paul listed gossips along with murderers, I guess. Good post!

  2. That is exactly what Jewel's teachers and I have said to eachother. She had the same co-teachers 2 years in a row (and Justice had them too). My girl is quite the storyteller!

    Unfortunately, more people don't take this attitude with each other. How many family hurts and church splits could be avoided if people just TALKED to each other instead of about each other?