Originally Posted August 2005
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Honesty is something that I personally value.
There are lots of other things on the list as well, but honesty is pretty important. Consequently, I want to make sure that my children understand the value of telling the truth. We have all been the victim of untruths and many of us have stories about how lying has gotten us into trouble. If we know this to be the case, how do we pass this wisdom on to our children?
Some of you may not know that I was a high school science teacher and assistant principal.
In that environment, I saw many examples of children and parents trying to protect each other from consequences by telling lies. One principal often said, “You can tell they’re lying because their lips are moving.” This is not a reflection of the entire student population; most of our students were upright citizens who tried to do the right things. However, there is always a segment of the population who found themselves in the principal’s office spinning tales to avoid consequences. On some occasions parents joined the game, lying with and for their children.
Most recently, I have worked in the field of construction.
You can saddle yourself with a bad reputation quickly in that industry if you have trouble telling the truth. In many conversations with sub-contractors, vendors and others I said that I would rather hear the painful truth than a comfortable lie.
A job’s quality, schedule and/or budget can be adversely affected by only one dishonest individual.
Enough rambling about the past, we all have stories. The real question is how do we impress upon our children the importance of telling the truth?
I think we can do a number of things. Here are some ideas:
Set a good example.
Take a look back over the last week or so. Have you been honest and forthright in all your dealings? I have found that my children are often paying attention to details that I miss. Have you taken any shortcuts that could be viewed as dishonest?
React strongly to their dishonesty.
Unfortunately, it seems their first instinct is to wiggle out of trouble by telling lies. They have to understand at an early age that lying in any form is intolerable. You have to teach them to be honest at all times. Strong discipline is administered in our house as the result of dishonesty. I want them to connect dishonesty with serious negative consequences.
But most importantly, teach them what the Bible says.
You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. Exodus 20:16
The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful. Proverbs 12:22
Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth. Proverbs 16:13
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12
Make a point to help your children hide critical verses like these in their hearts. (I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalms 119:11)
Many will benefit from their trustworthiness, including you, Dad. God will be delighted as well!