In one of my favorite movies, Ernest Saves Christmas, one of the main characters is teaching a group of children this phrase: “They never get old. They always stay new. Those three little words, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You.’”
In my own life, I’ve tried to remember not only to teach my children the power in these words, but to live it myself. I have learned, also, there are three other little phrases that, if said and lived, are even more powerful. They are as follows:
1. “Yes sir/ma’am”
Many parents do a great job teaching their children to say “sir” and “ma’am” when talking to adults. While this is not necessarily a 100 percent right and wrong method, the idea behind it is one that every person must learn. From intern to CEO, from citizen to president, each and every person is under authority.
We know from history that when a person comes to believe that they should not answer to anyone, that they are the ultimate authority, trouble ensues. To take an extreme example, historians say that even from childhood, Adolf Hitler despised being under authority.
From looking at childhood photos to the time he was executing his murderous vision on the world, he resented all other authority but his own. Now, there is very little chance than any one of us will raise a little Hitler, but the point stands that if we can learn to submit to proper authority, life will go better (1 Tim. 2:2).
2. “Yes dear”
For those of us who are married, we know what a blessing married life is. Whether you are newlywed or have been married for many years, though, we also know that marriage brings challenges and opportunities for growth.
In biblical marriage, the man is head of the household. But the Bible clearly teaches mutual submission to one another, too (Ephesians 5:21-6:4). When the world hears the term “submit,” it thinks doormat or pushover. In Christianity, though, we see a beautiful picture of dying to self and putting another first. Husbands, by learning the key phrase, “yes dear,” we not only learn a happier way of life, we learn what it means to be servant-leader of our homes.
3. “Yes Lord”
In the parable in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 21, we hear of two sons. When their father asks them to do something, one son says “Yes father” but does not follow through. The second says “No father” but changes his mind and obeys. God is teaching us that he wants our actions, not merely our words.
With our lips and lives, every Christian believer must learn to say “yes” to God. Not only is this the true path to blessing, it is the only acceptable way to our Maker.
In the end, while “please” and “thank you” will make you a more polite and thankful person, learning when and how to say “yes” to God and the proper people is the surest road to a blessed and obedient-to-God life.