"Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But names will never hurt me!"
This was a popular rhyme when many of us were younger. We all know this isn't really true. Part of growing up is learning to deal with "name calling".
We as teachers work with this on a daily basis.
The Eighth Commandment says, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." This means that we should protect our neighbor's (friend's) reputation at all times. This includes the way we address our friends and neighbors. This is a very difficult concept for children of all ages to comprehend.
We know that the tongue is a powerful weapon. We are told in Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
It is hard not to fight back when someone hurts your feelings. Both children and adults often lash out with words, with name calling. Often when a child is called a name and his/her feelings are hurt they identify with the name he/she was called. As many times as we tell them they are not that name or that they should ignore the name they were called they have difficulty following our words.
What then can we do?
We can teach them to stand up for what they believe in - by our example!
We can teach them to have faith in their LORD and that He created a unique human being in His image - by our example.
We can teach them through our actions and language that we respect all people as our LORD does.
We can show them through the examples in the Bible where our LORD faced the same issues we face today. We can show them how He faced these challenges as both God and man.
We can teach them that there is one name by which we all are to be called, that will not hurt us for eternity - CHRISTIAN! This is the name that will guide our behavior. This is the name we are given as followers of Christ. In John 15:14-16 Christ tells us that we are now His friends and that He makes everything know to us that He learned from His Father.
We have a choice when calling people names.
We can call people by names that will hurt them.
We can call people by the name that will help them for all eternity!
John 15:14-16 (NIV)
14You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School