“Mom, it’s terrible! I went across the lines, and my black crayon wouldn’t do the shoes right! I hate it!” With the last exclamation the 7 year old dropped the offending artwork on the kitchen counter and collapsed into a chair. With her head in her hands she still managed to keep one eye on her mother as she reached for the latest rendition of her child’s horrible art.
As a parent of 4 children, one of whom is currently 7, I have had this type of event happen with me on occasion. There are normally two possible outcomes to this situation and while one may be preferred above the other, the child wins either way.
In one scenario the mother responds by overly praising the artwork. Instead of just accepting the art and proceeding to hang it on the fridge the mother gushes over the dress and condemns the bad black crayon for its inability to operate up to snuff. If the child really gets her going, the mother may even agree to buy more crayons or, better yet, markers. Surely, the princess’ artwork cannot be left up to the folks at Crayola. The child is overly praised and leaves the room pleased with herself.
In the second scenario the mother may respond with a critical eye. She may give the child directions on how to stay within the lines and she may even point out that a crayon sharpener was bought for just such a crayon as the black crayon. In a push to make the little darling even more of a perfectionist she may point out some things that the child didn’t complain about; such as the fact that most princess’ dresses are pink or blue and not brown. The child realizes she did not please her mother and is pleased with herself for beating her mother to the condemnation.
This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s dangerous. It causes us to depend upon our own reasoning and ability. It inhibits our faith and leaves us looking to others for confirmation or condemnation.
As adults we probably don’t spend a lot of time crying over refrigerator art but the other topics in which we can participate in self-fulfilling prophecies are seemingly endless. This isn’t the way of the people who have joined the Kingdom of God.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to encourage Timothy he made this statement one of the first statements in his letter:
Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Speak out of power. Speak with love. Use sound judgement and leave the spirit of fearfulness which seeks to control the response of others in self-fulfilling prophecies. And if you have a few minutes take a listen to this song, Refrigerator Art, by Allen Levi.