The number one question, when someone glances the Five C’s is, “No Correcting?! What will happen if I go without correct anyone? Especially my kids!”

I admit, back when my kids were younger, I didn’t know if it would be possible. And wasn’t it good and right for me to correct them? Well, yes and no. Let’s talk about it.

Correct: to point out or mark the errors. 

First, let’s recognize that not all correcting is motivated by a control-craving heart. When I was overseas this fall and talked about surrendering to God by “Capping the Red Pen”, a sweet, sincere girl asked, “But what about language study? Should I not say anything if someone is using a word incorrectly?” I assured her that correcting a student’s language was kind and helpful–not controlling.

The corrections that come from a control-craving heart are not the kind, helpful sort. And because Christmas is that time of year that we have higher expectations, we also have greater temptation to grab at control by correcting all of the wrong that we see. For instance:

  • Correcting the way the kids decorate their ginger bread houses.
  • Correcting the way your coworker wrapped the gifts for the office party.
  • Correcting your sister-in-law for suggesting that she could host the family party this year.
  • Correcting your husband for not shoveling the snow before guests arrived.
  • Correcting your daughter’s choice of clothing for the Christmas Eve service.
  • Correcting your husband for falling asleep during the Christmas Eve sermon.
  • Correcting your son for opening his gifts without waiting his turn.
  • Correcting your daughter for not appearing grateful or enthusiastic after opening her gift.
  • Correcting your husband for buying you a gift that wasn’t expensive enough.
  • Correcting your husband for buying you a gift that was too expensive.

You get the idea.

Where’s Your Verse? 

So how will you know the difference between a sinful, controlling correction and a kind, helpful one? Here’s a starting point: If there’s no verse in the Bible to support your correction, you might be taking control of something that is not yours to control. (That would include everything on the list above.)

Control Girl-type correction is when we try to play God. When we seek to replace him in the lives of our people. The truth is, God doesn’t need us to stand in for Him. And the people in our lives would appreciate it if we stopped trying to do so.

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Correction as Parents

Now, the one area this gets tricky is parenting. Please understand that I’m not suggesting you let a toddler run out in the road or put her hand on a hot stove just because you’re doing the Five C Challenge. But sometimes, when we correct repeatedly with added intensity and anger, we gradually transition from godly parenting into sinful controlling.

If your kids are rolling their eyes and finishing your corrective sentences before you do, it’s time to ask whether your correction is driven by a desire for control. I’ve found that taking a break from speaking the corrections that so easily roll off my tongue is good for my own heart and the hearts of my kids. The silence gives me an opportunity to evaluate whether I’m trying to replace God, or kindly lead my children to Him.

The Power of Gentle Questions

Once, while I was doing the Five C Challenge, I got a phone call from my child’s teacher about a concerning misbehavior. Now what do I do? I wondered. I couldn’t just let this go; that would be bad parenting. In our house, when you get in trouble at school, it’s double trouble at home. But, on the other hand, I wanted to honor my “no correcting” commitment. So I decided to just ask questions when my child got home from school, and pray the the Holy Spirit would do the correcting.

Here were some of my questions:

  • So what happened?
  • Why do you think your teacher was upset?
  • What did you do that was wrong?
  • Can you think of any verses that apply to this?
  • What would you like to say to the Lord?
  • What do you think you should say to your teacher?
  • What do you think a good consequence should be?

Some might call this a corrective conversation, but it was unlike any post-call-from-school conversation that I’d ever had with one of my kids. And here’s the amazing part. It was even more effective than if I had done what I usually do and answered all of those questions instead of asking them! My child was quickly remorseful, wrote a letter to the teacher, and chose a fitting punishment–all without any correction from me. And without me even raising my voice, pounding my fist, or jabbing my finger at Bible verses.

The Voice of the Spirit

Friends, sometimes in parenting–and also in other relationships–we do so much talking that we talk over the voice of God. The Bible says that Adam took the fruit after listening to the voice of his wife. And Abraham took Hagar as a second wife after listening to the voice of his wife. (Gen. 3:17 and Gen. 12:2). Both times a man was listening to the correction of his wife, rather than listening to the correct voice: that of God’s.

Here’s what we need to remember: The voice of the Spirit is far more effective than our voice. He is far more able to correct our children and others of sin than we are.

Questions to Ask Before Correcting: 

So here are some questions to ask before allowing yourself to correct someone during the Five C Challenge:

  • Does she already know what I’m going to say?
  • Could I back this correction up with a Bible verse?
  • Have I given this person opportunity to hear from the Holy Spirit?
  • Is my heart filled with love and kindness toward this person?
  • Or am I correcting out of a desire for control?

Christmas should be a joyful and expectant time, as we reflect on all God has done for the world by sending Jesus into it. But too often we turn Jesus’ birth into a celebration that’s all about us.

Surrendering My Red Pen

Just yesterday, my son was down playing the piano instead of doing the chores I had asked him to. Ordinarily I would have broken into a robust expression of rapid-fire correction statements. But instead, I chose to go and listen to him finish his song (he loves it when I take the time to listen), then I asked him to share his plan for the afternoon with me. Yes the question was gently corrective, but it was kind and gracious. He not only got right to work on the things I had asked him to do; he plopped down on the couch next to me afterward and we had a fun banter about something silly.

I’m realizing that moments like those only happen when I lay down my red pen. Now, of course there’s balance. If I was a mom who never corrected and only had the fun banter with her kids, I’d have to do more correcting to create balance. But Control Girls like me often have no problem dishing out corrections, especially at Christmas.

Lord, help us to be quiet long enough to listen for your voice, rather than always using our own. May we be women who gently lead others to You, rather than trying to correct in your place. Lord Jesus, we believe that you alone are in control. Help our words to reflect this! 

Jesus, as we celebrate your birthday, help us to be women who use healing words, not harsh, critical ones. May we be women who use our influence to encourage those we love, not cut them down. Lord Jesus, we believe that You alone are in control. Help our words to reflect this! 

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