Ephesians 6:6a: Try to please them at all times, and not just when you think they are watching. 

It is interesting that when we know someone is watching us, we tend to be more careful about what we say and how we act.

Recently, I was reminded that even when we are not aware that someone is watching us, they are.

My pet name for Hubby Rick is Sweetie Pea. Don’t ask why. It just is. Sometimes, I simply call him, “Sweetie.” Just because.

One day, our 4-year-old granddaughter, Jensyn was at our house. She adores her grandpa. She LOVES to play with him, whether it is outside, in the garage or inside. This particular day, Rick was pretending that he was sick and Jensyn was his nurse. He was lying on our bed, which was where little Jensyn was treating him.

Apparently, she was “gone” from the room and was “calling” him, using a small framed photograph of my great-grandparents as her telephone. I didn’t hear the conversation, until the very end. Grandpa told Jensyn that he needed to go. He closed the conversation with, “Good-bye. Love you!”

Immediately, Jensyn replied, “Love you too. Bye, Sweetie.”

I was down the hall, not really listening. But I clearly heard her response and it stopped me. Casually, I asked Rick, “Did she say what I think she said?”

He affirmed positively.

Now, I’m not sure “Sweetie” is in the regular vocabulary repertoire for a 4-year-old. But apparently, it is part of Jensyn’s.

When we are aware of someone paying attention to what we are doing, it often seems that we try a little harder. We are more charming, more attentive, wittier and possibly more enduring. When we are by ourselves, in a less glamorous place or just hanging out in our normal environment, we probably aren’t as careful about what we do. Or what we say.

Where does a 4-year-old pick up the word, “Sweetie?” When she hears someone else say it hundreds of times. Then, it becomes a normal word to her; one she adds to her rotation of interesting words that she says, possibly without really ever consciously thinking about it. It comes out, just as naturally as from the person she first heard say it.

Clearly, it’s not just what we do when we are with others that influences them. It’s also what we say and how we say something.

In contrast, Jensyn told me yesterday that recently, one of her brothers taught her a new line. It goes like this. “Cut. It. Out.”

And she proceeded to repeat it over and over while we were in the car.

“Cut. It. Out. Cut. It. Out.”

I’m not sure what she was supposed to stop doing when she heard this. But certainly, her brother’s response was a memorable and impactful moment upon Jensyn.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, others notice what we do. What we say. How we say something. The words that we use. Words matter and, boy, even little people figure this out at an early age.

Think of all the situations where we have an opportunity to indirectly mentor or encourage someone in what we say:

Are we able to ask for forgiveness when we should?

How quickly can we say that we are sorry when we do or say something that is hurtful or disrespectful to another person?

Are you able to show affection and express your love and care for someone when you first see them or when you leave?

Do you take moments of opportunity to encourage and appreciate someone else when they do or say something meaningful?

When someone shares something with you that is personal and transparent, are you able to honor and thank them for being honest?

If you are in an opportunity to redirect or correct someone, can you do it filled with grace and compassion?

Do you grasp the opportunity to be encouraging even when someone else has struggled?

Is your optimism contagious?

All of these attributes certainly makes a person more fun to be around. Honestly, it’s just a lot easier to be around someone who is more positive and optimistic than someone who is constantly and consistently negative.

Just yesterday, Jensyn told Rick and I that, “Grandpa is a funny guy.”

Big surprise, there, right?

She is absolutely correct. Her Grandpa was a fun and interesting way of engaging with others, often taking a situation and turning it into something that simply makes you laugh.

May I encourage you to be a bit more aware of what you say? The tone of voice you use? What syllable do you put the emphasis on? (Think Chandler Bing from Friends and his ability to emphasize the syllable that no one expected him to use.)

Yes, it is often easier to be aware of WHAT people see you do. And this is important. But it is equally important are the words we use, the context in which they are used and where we put the emphasis.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul reminds the people there, as well as us, that appeasing people should not only be when we think someone is watching us. It is just as important to keep this same attitude with the words that we say.

Is it super cute that Jensyn called her Grandpa, “Sweetie?” Absolutely. I am not offended that she picked up on the cute, little name that I call Hubby Rick. And if I say it, should it be safe for her to say it as well. While this is all cute and good, she can just as easily pick up on the words and phrases we aren’t as confident about a little person repeating.

Words matter. Actions matter. Whether anyone else is listening and observing us, our Heavenly Father is always aware of what is going on. While I’d prefer not to have God hear and see some of the things that I do, well, I’m not sure this is possible.

Instead, let’s put our best foot forward in saying things that will be words of honest encouragement. Words we could say to our grandmothers and not be ashamed. Words that others will willingly repeat and embrace because they find them cool as well.

For Jensyn’s lesson that words matter, I am grateful.

Blessings –


Loving God – Thank you for reminding me once again that words matter. What I say. How I say them. May the words that I share be encouraging and uplifting to others. When someone uses words with me that are hurtful, may I address this with them and discover that it is important for me to be more aware of what I say. Thanks for being patient with me and the words I use. Amen.  

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