The Spoken Word


If we treat a person as he ought to be

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System April 18, 1971. ©1971 by Richard L. Evans.

“If you treat a man as he ought to be,” said Goethe, “he will become what he ought to be.” What is true of a man is equally or more true of a child. In an atmosphere of encouragement and confidence much more is accomplished than in an atmosphere of criticism. Countless children tragically have become much less than they could have become because they have been discouraged, made to feel unimportant, unpromising, unappreciated. A performer rises to the expectation of the audience. Unheard or unappreciated performances are not likely to be the best. We tend to try to become what others give us reason to feel we should and can become. President David O. McKay used to cite the words of a faithful wife standing by and saying, “You can; you must; you will.” An understanding and encouraging wife, a kind and encouraging husband, can make the difference between unhappiness at work and at home or a feeling of happy service and success. It is so with children, as parents and teachers patiently encourage, and care, and convince them they can—and so they often do. More trust, more love, more effort, more output come by telling them how they can improve rather than how poorly they perform. And one tragic way to have a child—or anyone—feel that he is a failure is to expect nothing of him, or fail to give him an awareness of what he can become. In many other ways the love and loyalty of family play a vitally important part. Many a young person has resisted temptation because he knew what his parents and family expected of him and because he knew if he disappointed them, the hurt would be deep in their hearts. Such family love and loyalty have proved to be the safety and salvation of countless young people—letting them know that their loved ones believe in them. Overall, the world will be better if we treat people as if they are or could be what they ought to be—and give them confidence and encouragement. If we treat a person as he ought to be, he will tend to become what he ought to be.

There is something about children

“The Spoken Word” from Temple Square, presented over KSL and the Columbia Broadcasting System April 4, 1971. ©1971 by Richard L. Evans.

There is something about children that softens our hearts and searches our souls—innocent, honest, teachable, trusting—the children of all the world, worldwide: those of whom our Savior said, “Except ye … become as little children, ye shall not enter … the kingdom of heaven.” 1 One should not rest well, it seems, with thoughts of children growing up in ignorance; not taught of God, of life, its purpose; not taught of cleanliness, honesty, morality; of children warped in their ways by the neglect or bad example of adults. There are those who sometimes say they are looking for a shining cause. Let them turn to the cause of seeing that children are taught and cared for. Let them begin where the problems begin, and where results would most surely be seen. Oh, the haunting sight of seeing children old before their age; of seeing children hurt amid the hazards of a careless world, hurt by dangers that adults have left within their reach—dangers little understood by those who run and roam and want to try all things, and little think but that the world is safe and sure. “Every child,” said President David O. McKay, “has the right to feel that in his home he has a place of protection from the dangers and evils of the outside world.” One should not sleep well while children are left unloved and lonely. God bless and watch over little children, and bless us to love and understand and teach and care for them and give them all we can of wholesomeness and happiness. A prayer of Arthur Guiterman may bring a gentle smile, with perhaps a tear or two:

“God bless all the little boys who look like Puck,
With wide eyes, wider mouths and stick-out ears,
Rash little boys who stay alive by luck
And Heaven’s favor in this world of tears.” 2

* * *

“I think when I read that sweet story of old,
When Jesus was here among men,
How He called little children as lambs to His fold,
I should like to have been with Him then.” 3
  1.   1.

    Matt. 18:3

  2.   2.

    Arthur Guiterman, “Blessing on Little Boys.”

  3.   3.

    Jemima Luke, “That Sweet Story of Old.”