When I grew up, especially during my teen years, there was a revolution sweeping the nation. It was intent on changing the morals and values that had sustained this nation for generations. The cultural revolution of the ’60s and early ’70s was all about freedom. But not the kind of freedom you think. Not the kind of freedom that actually sets you free. It was about sexual freedom, freedom from parents, freedom from authority, freedom from restraint, freedom from Christianity/religion, freedom from obligation and responsibility. Freedom to simply do whatever you wanted to do, whenever you wanted to do it. In the years and decades that followed, that cultural revolution led us to an epidemic of divorce, an epidemic of murdering babies, an epidemic of addiction, an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, and an epidemic of enslavement to our lower nature and the sin that ensnares and ruins our lives.
MAY I BE SO BOLD AS TO SAY, THE TRUTH IS BABY BOOMERS, (I speak of my generation) RUINED AND DESTROYED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF OUR CHILDREN, AND DESTROYED THE MORAL, SPIRITUAL FABRIC OF OUR NATION.
How, you say? We did not say no to ourselves. We did not say no to our base emotions, our passions, and our greed for self. By our own pathetic example, we passed this wretched way of life on to the next generation.
Millions and millions of baby boomers’ health today is suffering immensely and driving up the cost of health care! Why? Because of our unbridled excess. Because boomers didn’t say no to all the garbage they put in their mouths. They wouldn’t say no to their appetite and they are an out of shape, overweight health catastrophe! IF YOU DOUBT THIS, THEN YOU DON’T READ THE NEWS OR THE STATISTICS.
I was one of those fools. I was, for a time, one of those idiots who threw off authority, threw off restraint, cast aside many boundaries, and it almost ruined my life. In fact, my favorite t-shirt to wear in high school, stated loud and proud, “If it feels good, do it!”
THEN SOMETHING FANTASTIC HAPPENED – I GAVE MY LIFE TO JESUS CHRIST AND DISCOVERED THE POWER OF THE WORD NO! I DISCOVERED THAT TRUE FREEDOM CAME TO ME THROUGH THE POWER OF GOD’S GRACE, TO SAY NO TO MY SINFUL, SELFISH, SELF-DESTRUCTIVE NATURE.
Most people do not grasp that this is one of the greatest gifts and blessings of Biblical Christianity. Hear me now! THE GRACE OF GOD TEACHES US TO SAY NO TO UNGODLINESS.
Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘NO’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
I look back now on my 43 years of following Jesus Christ and I am incredibly grateful that God gave me real, true freedom and taught me to say no to myself, no to so many bad habits, no to so many bad choices, and no to so many destructive passions. I said no to so many desires and wants that would have led me to terrible financial decisions. No to laziness. No to foolishness. No to sin.No to an undisciplined, self-indulgent way of life.
Learning to say no to myself freed me to accomplish so many important and meaningful things with my life for the last 43 years and empowered me to develop some wonderful lifelong habits.
Dads, it is essential that we teach our children the meaning and the wonderful power of the word NO. The child, the teen, the adult who never learns to say no to themselves, no to their desires, and wants, no to their out of control emotions will never, ever succeed. Instead, they will be enslaved to their own selfish desires, passions, and emotions. They will be easily enticed, ensnared, and addicted to things, to bad habits, bad relationships, bad choices, and it will ruin their lives.
As a father, I understood that one of the most vital lessons I taught my children was to learn the power of no and to respond to my commands when I told them no. No, you can’t do that. No, you can’t have that. No, you can’t play there. No, you can’t have them as a friend. No, you can’t stay overnight. No, you can’t eat that. No, you can’t speak to others that way. No, you cannot act that way. No, you cannot have that attitude. No, you cannot go to your room and sulk. No, we cannot buy that. No, you can’t just loaf and be lazy. No, you can’t quit. GRACE TEACHES US TO SAY NO!
As my children grew up, I observed that they were empowered having learned to say no to themselves. It kept them from many, many bad choices, bad habits, and actually freed them to develop many good habits and good choices. It saved them from a lot of very bad things that many others their age fell into because of the overpowering temptation and their own inability to say no to themselves.
It is the power of no that teaches a child self-control. This is one of the most important attributes a child will ever possess. Never forget this truth!
When we cannot say no to ourselves, we are in deep, deep trouble and ruin is on its way!
I would like to offer some simple ways to begin to teach your child the power of no:
1. Do not completely kid-proof your home. Leave things around so that you will need to teach your child the meaning of “no touch.”
2. Video games were a great way to teach my children the power of the word no and self-control. We decided to have them as my kids grew up. However, there were boundaries. There were time limits, but also, at times I would simply walk up and tell them, “You need to turn it off now.” Remember, this was the days before you could save the level you were on in Mario. I expected them to turn it off and accept the no with a good attitude.
3. When my children all wanted to start karate, I made an agreement with them. “If you start the introductory program, you can’t quit. Once that 3-month program is over, then and only then will we evaluate should we go to the next belt level. We did this for their white belt, their red belt, and then their black belt. It was a rigorous, difficult, very challenging program. Each step of the way they knew if they started the new program that we signed up for, they could not quit. They had to resist the impulse to give up and say, “No, I will not quit this!”
4. We worked very hard to instill good attitudes and used teachable moments that would come up at home, in sports, and in life situations to teach our kids to manage their emotions well and to keep a good attitude if they lost or things didn’t go their way.
5. As your children become teenagers and young adults they begin to deal with the greater complexities of full-blown human, grown-up emotions. It is imperative that they learn how to deal with them so that their emotions and feelings do not run their whole lives. So many young people, and I might add adults, have no idea how to make wise choices in spite of how they feel and instead simply let their emotions and feelings lead them. This is one of the reasons the Bibles says, “better is the man who can rule his spirit (emotions) than the mighty, conquering hero!” This was one of the greatest and most difficult lessons I had to learn in my life. It took the power of God and tremendous effort, determination, suffering, and perseverance on my part to learn this vital lesson.
6. No is a great blessing to your children to learn. You yourself must believe that and practice it, or they never will!
7. Teach them that freedom of speech comes with great responsibility and we must not spout off everything we feel or whatever comes to our minds. My wife taught our children this verse over and over again, “Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to and what will give them a blessing”. We did our best to strive after this truth in our day to day lives.
Please give a listen to these messages as they will give further inspiration, understanding, and wisdom in this vital truth!