“You Shouldn’t Say That.”

DetroitSawyer“You shouldn’t say that.”

Four words that suck.  They suck because they are the truth. They are convicting. And based on the fact that they needed to be said at all, they bring a heavy dose of embarrassment, shame and guilt along for the ride.

Did I mention that they usually come from my 4 year old?


And my go-to response won’t exactly win me any integrity awards.

“You can’t say that, I can. I’m an adult, you aren’t.”

Before I explain what that means, I need to say something. I’ll even put an * in to make it official.

*If you are the perfect father, who never curses, raises your voice out of turn or has a day when you walk around like the world owes you a favor…exhibited by the things you say and the way you come across…

then this post isn’t for you.  AND… you are not human. So feel free to head off on your perfect fishing trip, where you catch the perfect fish every time, set all records at the arcade, batting cage, or bench press 500 lbs. 487 times as you quote the Bible from memory.  Every.  Last.  Verse.

If not.  If you’ve had “your days” like me…maybe this post helps.

That quote?  Why do I say it?  I mean, if I am really being honest?

Here’s why…

1.  I am arrogant.

2.  I have too much pride to admit I was wrong.

3. I’m teaching you it’s ok to file these idiotic comments of mine away and use them when you are older.

Listen…being a father isn’t exactly easy. It doesn’t come with a handbook on how to handle every situation. And don’t tell me that is what the Bible is for. You show me where it says what every single situation will play out like, and what my corresponding response should be. I’ll save you the time. It doesn’t.

And some of you are already crafting your response, with a flurry of corresponding scripture to back it up.

Don’t bother. And it’s not that I’m above reproach. I’ve got friends who will take care of that for sure.

I know I am supposed to love. I know my tongue is a dangerous weapon if used the wrong way. Words hurt. I know that I am to be holy, and model my behavior after my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I know that.

And yet I still say…

“You can’t say that, I can. I’m an adult, you aren’t.”


I don’t know. And I want desperately for it to never happen again. But I struggle with that. I expect too much, too often, unfairly. It’s part of the part of me that I want to change…and work everyday to do so.

When I am having one of “those days”…as soon as whatever I said comes out of my mouth, I am more embarrassed, frustrated and ticked at myself than you could ever imagine. 

The Bible gives me guidelines for how to speak, act and live. Yet…in God’s infinite love, He doesn’t provide an exhaustive list of every situation…word by word…of where I will find myself as a father.

So sometimes I curse.  Sometimes I say “that’s stupid”. And the latter is enough to get me in hot water with my four year old, not to mention what the former does.

The former breaks my heart, because I know it breaks the heart of God. And it most certainly breaks the heart of the young, impressionable boy God has given me to watch over.

I’m not proud of it. I’m working my way through it. 3 kids later, and I’m seeing it clearer every day.

My wife tells me that when I am struggling to come to grips with challenges in front of me, sometimes that comes out as a tension everyone else in the home has to “deal with”.  I get short. My face looks like…well, grumpy is the polite word to use here I suppose.

And somewhere in all of this lay the richest blessings I could ever know, and never deserve.

My God loves me, listens to me, corrects me, rebukes me, cleanses me and brings me to my knees…so that…I can get up off of them and ask forgiveness of my children and my wife. So that I can tell them I was wrong. No excuses. No ifs, and or buts…only that I was wrong.

My wife loves me…enough to tell me what I told you she does. And she stands strong, reminding me that I am charged with the responsibility to lead even when “I don’t feel like it”…”Have a lot on my mind”…or whatever other garbage excuse I am bringing to the table at the moment.

My children love me…so much that when I kneel before them asking for forgiveness…often stuffing back tears for the words I chose…or the volume of my delivery…that they throw their arms around me. They hug me, tell me they love me.  They tell me that I am forgiven.

And then they are off.

Off to play…their smile back where it belongs…on their face.

And maybe that’s the part that crushes me the most.

One day…they’ll be off.

And it won’t just be to play.

It’ll be off to college.  Off to their wedding.  Off to their new job 8 states away.

And I risk being the dad standing there with disappointment that I didn’t give them all I could.

Like I said…

Being a dad isn’t easy.

But what challenges us, doesn’t have to defeat us. It can be the very reason we lead well & finish the same way.

And I bet there are more than a few that will tell you I am being too hard on myself. After all, what parent hasn’t raised their voice when you’ve asked a kid to pick something up 5 times and they still haven’t’ done it? What parent hasn’t cursed in front of their child?

Well…if that is the standard…then we’ve completely missed our greatest opportunity as fathers and husbands.

We’ve missed the opportunity to leave a legacy worth following.

“To train a child up in the way they should go…SO THAT…they will not depart from it.”

I have guys in my life that will call me out on my crap. I need that.

Part of my sharing this today is to encourage someone, somewhere…that feels very alone in trying to be the perfect dad…the perfect husband.

You aren’t alone.

But I want to tell you what will bring the change we are looking for.

Get a Bible.  Read it.  Not to follow rules. To learn who Jesus is. To develop a relationship with Him.

Get some guys and read it together. Develop relationships that will hold you accountable.

Get on your knees and be a man. It’s where fathers and husbands become useful to their family. In prayer.

Anyone can say…

“You can’t say that, I can. I’m an adult, you aren’t.”

The 3 things I just said we need to do?

That’s a start.

And it’s also likely the reason that we’ll be less likely to hear our kids say…

“You Shouldn’t Say That.”

One day at a time, gentlemen.

It’s our choice.

I know mine.

I’ve gotta go.

I have a Bible that needs reading, knees that need kneeling, and friends to check in with.

Catch ya’ later, brother.



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