I’ve made a promise to my son regarding his performance in the game of baseball: I’ll always be honest. There are times when honesty means praising him for his effort and play. There are times when honesty means telling him his effort and play weren’t good. My goal is never to be critical and I ask the Lord for wisdom when it comes to the “negative” honesty. Yet, I believe firmly that no one ever improves if a coach or a dad is unwilling to be honest.

Without honesty, a player believes he is doing exactly what he should be doing. If a player is praised for his effort and performance without good reason, he will never learn to improve.

On the other hand, if a player is never praised honestly, he will think he never does anything right.

Both of those extremes must be avoided.

Instead, coach/dad, choose the path of honesty. It will be best in the long run. Proverbs 28:23 puts it this way: “He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue” (NIV).

Honest feedback is lacking in our society, but it is necessary, especially in the raising of young people. Loving honesty is the key to growth in all areas. But remember, without love, honesty is a waste of time, even insulting.

In the end, kids and players want honesty from a loving leader. They’re better off for it, and they know it. Instead of glossing over the truth, pray for ways to present in in loving fashion. That’s the way God does with each of us. His loving honesty is displayed throughout the Scriptures. We are sinners, but through Christ, we escape condemnation. If God were not honest with us about our sinful state, where would we be?

Here’s a prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for being honest with me and confronting me in the Scripture with the fact that I am a sinner. Without that knowledge, I would never be able to understand your grace. As I lead and coach young people, I need your wisdom to be lovingly honest with them. Show me how. Amen.