“I can’t take the garbage out.”
“I can’t get the entire basement cleaned by myself.”
“I can’t carry the laundry up the stairs.”
“I can’t do the worksheet by myself.”
I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.
Just the sound of those two little words irritates this mama to no end.
What Kind of “I Can’t” Is It?
I don’t make a habit of asking my kiddos to do things they’re incapable of doing. I try to make sure what I’m asking of them, even if it’s challenging, is doable. When I hear, “I can’t,” I know that it’s either because of laziness or lack of confidence.
It’s usually pretty easy to determine which one it is. “I can’t clean up all the toys myself,” is obviously laziness. But many other “I can’ts” I hear from my son are a lack of confidence.
The self-esteem movement of the 1990’s taught parents to instill in our sons a sense of “self-confidence,” but the Bible has a different take on the matter. Our sons’ problem is not a low sense of self-worth or a low self-image—as if their opinion of themselves is what matters most.
Whose evaluation matters most? God’s, not our our own.
By whose standard are we measured? God’s, not our own.
What our sons needs is not self-confidence, but God-confidence.
When your son says, “I can’t!” point him to the One who can.
Using the Proverbs to Nurture
The Proverbs hold a wealth of instruction, especially for growing boys. It is easily one of the most practical books in the Bible in terms of teaching your children about actions and consequences.
If your son is saying a lot of “I can’t’s”—born either out laziness or a lack of confidence—it might be worth spending some time in the Proverbs with your son. The process involves two steps:
- Lay the Foundation – During a quiet time of conversation (such as family devotions), discuss a pertinent proverb with your son. Talk about what it means and how it applies to him.
- Use the Moment – When you hear an “I can’t,” gently stop you son and say, “Remember what the Proverbs say,” and then quote the beginning part of the proverb you previously discussed. See if your son can repeat the second half (if not, say it for him). Repeat this process each time, and in time, your son will know the proverb by heart, and he’ll learn to discern truth from error.
Proverbs on Laziness
“Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” – Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)
“Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.” – Proverbs 12:11 (NIV)
“A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.” – Proverbs 13:4 (NIV)
Proverbs on God-Confidence
“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” – Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)
“…for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” – Proverbs 3:26 (ESV)
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Continue to pray for your sons and direct them to look to Jesus!
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