"And a fool's voice is known by multitude of words" (Ecclesiastes 5:3b).

My daughter glared at me from across the room, and I knew I had done it again. I had embarrassed her by speaking for her when my friend asked her what she had learned in school that day. This violation of her individuality and personhood ranked quite high on her top ten list of homeschooling blunders, and Mom was the worst offender! As she informed me that day, "Mom, I am 13 and perfectly capable of answering questions on my own!"

Speaking on our children's behalf is a common offense of many homeschooling parents. Perhaps the teacher in us births an over-exuberant desire to convince others of homeschooling's benefits, or the mother in us seeks to protect our child from any uncomfortable confrontations. Regardless, this blunder robs our children of the opportunity to express themselves and can cause future problems in their adult lives. The ability to formulate an opinion and express one's views is a quality every child needs in order to live a successful life.

Christians make similar blunders in their spiritual walk with God. Many times, we attempt to speak for God and expound our knowledge on doctrines and theologies when helping people in need. With no thought of the person with whom we are speaking, we impart our wisdom on biblical topics and fail to speak to the needs within that person's heart. People hear wonderful words of "Christianese," but they never hear the words that will lead them into a relationship with the Creator of the universe. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through us, we puff up our flesh and speak on God's behalf with our own human understanding.

What about you? Do you repeatedly make spiritual blunders and speak to others on God's behalf? Are you sharing your own thoughts and problem-solving remedies, or do you pray for God to speak through you with the right words? "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).

Lord, forgive me when I run ahead of You and talk on Your behalf. Teach me to pray first and listen to You before I speak to the needs of those who are hurting. In Jesus' name, Amen.