I resolve to no longer be nice. Now before you begin avoiding me, I would appreciate you hearing me out. I think of the ways that we use the word “nice” to our children. And yes, I have used that anemic word with my own children, but just what noble task am I calling them to pursue? We ask them to “play nice,” but wouldn’t playing nice mean I would let the other win; “be nice,” but wouldn’t being nice limit their passion to stand against injustice. There is something missing with in this word. Is there verbiage in our lexicon that we can use with our children to inspire them to noble character?
The Fruit of the Spirit recorded in Scripture provides us with just such vocabulary. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Since these virtues are listed under the singular heading of fruit, I believe the power in these virtues comes from their collective use as well as their individual definitions. Consider the depth of inspiring our children to foster the best in others – love. Delighting in the Lord in the midst of any circumstances – joy and peace. Even kindness, some might say that this seems too much like nice. However, kindness is rooted in the words, kin or kindred; challenging us to consider others like part of our family.
So when your child is leaving to go to school or to a friend’s house, don’t limit their influence on the world around them by asking them to “be nice.” Inspire them to noble virtues by demanding much more of them. My wife and I chose terms like “Be an example” or “Be a blessing, not a burden” as our farewell words as our boys bounded off to their next adventure. As you send them out, also consider how you pray for them. Bob Hostetler has developed a strategy to intentionally pray for Biblical qualities for our children: 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray forOur Kids.
Consider the power of praying that each of these virtues would be impressed on the hearts of our children. No more Mr. Nice Guy . . . there is so much more!