WISE INTENTIONAL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Volume 12, Number 1 – JANUARY, 2018
Greetings. Happy New Year. With a new year people often desire to change or develop area in their lives. One goal of mine is to purify my relationship with Him, making it more and more biblical by reducing my Western bias view of Him. I have implemented a couple of activities for myself to pursue that goal. This adventure I am looking forward to. In what areas are you working to develop? Mike
POWER OF OUR WORDS
There is a saying that children have been taught, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” Whoever came up with that saying was not tuned into real life and what Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
When anyone is given a leadership title, there is a great deal of power and accountability that comes with that title. Many people to include Christians thirst this power. To be in charge and direct people can be an honorable pursuit. Unfortunately that power can become uncontrollable. It clouds decision making and treatment of people. Probably the most common what how we treat people is in our tongue. Our words can bring life and exuberance to someone and at the same time, crush and mutilate another. Words hurts and they hurt deeply (Proverbs 12:18 – “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing; Proverbs 15:4 – Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”)
No wonder James is very descriptive in chapter 3 (verses 3-12) regarding our speech. Physically our tongue constitutes a small percentage of our body weight but is the source for so much damage. One single spark has the potential to create a raging forest fire, destroying vast amounts of land and property and endangering lives. Oh, what power our words have.
Most if not all of us can recall a nickname or something someone said, that still pierces our hearts today. It could have been said decades ago but the wound is as fresh as if it was said moments ago. The temptation for leaders is to say things with an air of superiority and no filters on what we say. When we consider ourselves better than someone else, it is very easy to say something damaging without a thought of the ramifications of that statement upon the recipient nor the rippling affects it will have as we travel into the future.
Due to the great influence sports has in essentially all cultures, the “coach” carries an exorbitant amount of influence and power on the lives of his or her players. Whatever the coach says regularly can be more important than what a parent or spouse says. In many churches the “pastor” has similar levels of influence. Just the position demands a good deal of respect. Statements such as, “God told me to tell you” and “I am the Lord’s anointed” are very intimidating. As Christian coaches, pastors or any other leader, be very careful of your words and how you say them. Your tone, facial expressions and eye contact can quickly come across as positive or negative, building up or tearing down.
Out of one side of our mouths we can praise one person and the other side, we can slander another. Yes, we do need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) but at the same time apply Ephesians 4:29 to those statements – “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” You can build up someone when you are needing to deal with difficult issues between the two of you.
We will give an account before God of how we handled our relationships with one another. As a spiritual leader, be known as a person who always had the best interest out for each person we encountered. Each recipient will see the Lord’s grace and mercy flow through us as we use the gift of speech.
YOUTH MINISTRY – CONTROLLING YOUR TONGUE
How difficult is it when you are in the “heat” of a discussion or argument to not say something you will later regret? We are so quick with our tongue that the words fly out before we think. When we are angry or emotionally charged, we say things that we would not otherwise ever let out of our mouths.
We know words bite and hurt. Relationships have been brutally damaged. What we recall of someone is something that stung from what they said. Nicknames have demoralized and depressed people.
I had a close personal friend growing up that was given a less than flattering nickname by kids older than him to include his brothers. Kids would tease him constantly using this name. I saw the hurt in his face whenever called that name. One day even though I was his close friend, I called him that name and the hurt in his face was the deepest I had ever seen. Never again would I call him that as I learn my lesson at his expense. The thing is I should have known better as I had a nickname, which to this day I despise and hurts thinking about the memories I have of growing up with it.
In the book of James (chapter 3:3-8), the tongue is described as a very small part of the body but oh, what power and damage it can inflict. Just as a single spark can cause a great forest to be destroyed so can a tongue destroy a person. The tongue (our speech) can corrupt who we are. James says that we can tame all sizes of animals and reptiles, but no one can tame the tongue. A small rudder steers a massive ship just as a small part of a person leaves the greatest impression of ourselves on others.
The advice of Proverbs 10:19 is pretty straightforward, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (New Living Translation). Be prudent and keep your mouth shut. When you add gasoline to a fire, you have a huge blow up, the same is true when you share harsh, cruel, unforgiving words, you quickly create anger and rage. Instead a gentle response is like throwing water on to a fire (Proverbs 15:1).
How can we control our language? It would be nice if we could put a censor machine over our mouth and stop us from saying anything that would be demeaning or hurtful. The censor machine would allow us to say only things that are uplifting and helpful to others. You could make a great deal of money with that invention.
Since there is no such invention, try some of these suggestions. Read your Bible and obey by applying biblical principles to your lives. We need to get more of God’s Word into our minds so that the Holy Spirit can transform our thinking processes. Pray for the Spirit’s guidance as He uses the Bible to challenge old thinking habits. If you are listening to music and/or reading material that encourages or has derogatory language in it to include lude, racist and degrading portrayals or descriptions of people, it is time to get rid of that material and focus on music and reading material that is positive and uplifting. If you are treating people poorly, knock it off and show respect.
If you are hanging around people who influence your speech and thinking in the same way, it is time to find other acquaintances who are positive and uplifting. Find friends who will be firm on you and hold you accountable on the way you talk and treat people. You need some mental surgery done and it will not be easy to quickly change. Talk less until your speech shows a change in your behavior and it may be good to make it more of a habit to listen more and talk less. These are some suggestions to help you change your speech. There are more but start with something and do it now.
ILLUSTRATION – TASMANIAN DEVILS DISEASE
Australian scientists recently discovered what’s killing thousands of Tasmanian Devils on the island state of Tasmania. The scientists initially believed the deaths were caused by a virus; however, their research ultimately uncovered a rare, fatal cancer. They named it the Devil Facial Tumor Disease, or DFTD.
What is strange, according to cytogeneticist Anne-Marie Pearse, is that the abnormalities in the chromosomes of the cancer cells were the same in every tumor. That means the disease began in the mouth of a single, sick devil. That individual facilitated the spread of DFTD by biting its neighbors when squabbling for food, which, according to Pearse, is a natural devil behavior: “Devils jaw-wrestle and bite each other a lot, usually in the face and around the mouth, and bits of tumor break off one devil and stick in the wounds of another.”
Over the course of several years, infected devils continued to inflict deadly wounds with their mouths. Consequently, DFTD spread at an alarming rate, ultimately wiping out over 40 percent of the devil population. A similar fate threatens the Church if its members persist in the devilish behavior of wounding their neighbors with their mouths.