I saw the above rhyme many years ago on a teacher’s blackboard and it made such an impact on me that I have not forgotten it after all this time. Words have power. They have the power to build as well as to destroy.
Words Are Powerful
Our nation finds itself engaged in a contentious debate at the present time over just how much weight words actually do wield. There is hardly a person who would deny that our political climate is severely polarized and civil discourse is sorely lacking. And this is not limited to just one side.
This rhyme also came to mind recently when I heard that the National Football League is considering penalizing its players for using the N—word on the field of play. Of course, we all know how racially charged that word is. The problem with pursuing that course of action, in my opinion, is that there are many other words that are equally damning and insulting, words used to denigrate women, people of other ethnicities, and certain people’s sexual orientation. If the NFL is seriously thinking of penalizing players for disparaging speech, the game officials are going to spend more time throwing flags for inappropriate language than for physical violations.
As a pastor, I consider words my most powerful tool. I use words to communicate weekly, if not daily, when I stand in the pulpit and preach to my congregation. I put a lot of thought into what I am about to say because I want my hearers to take away something positive from the time they spend listening to me.
Likewise, when I speak to people individually, my mind is always focused on leaving that person with something positive from our conversation.
Words for Good
As a columnist for the Maple Heights News, my goals is to make the words you read here a force for the good of the community.
In all of these situations, one of my guiding principles come from the Bible and the book of Ephesians: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” [Ephesians 4:29]
I submit to you that the mere act of thinking before you speak can be life-changing – not only for you but for the person who hears you. For example, the next time someone asks you how you’re doing, consider your answer. You could say, “Okay, I guess.” or, “I feel great!” Which response has more impact?
If you and another person have a difference of opinion, choose between these two responses: “That’s a stupid idea!” or “That may be well and good, but have you thought about doing it this way?” Keep in mind that no one ever agrees on everything, but you can disagree without being disagreeable.
So I encourage you, my neighbor, to think before speaking. Ask yourself one question: “Is what I am about to say constructive and helpful, or negative and useless?” You may surprise even yourself with what comes out of your mouth.