FARGO — We all have our blind spots and areas of our life where we have significant room for growth. I recently went to a high school football game and a mom of one of the players was sitting behind my family and me. She stood out, unfortunately, for a wrong reason. She swore, complained, grumbled and was significantly more negative than any fan I have witnessed. One play, while loudly complaining about the lack of results, the running back broke away and ran for another 10 yards!
At one point, my 11-year-old daughter looked at me and asked, “Why does she keep swearing?” I replied that I didn’t know, but I was having a hard time not asking her to please stop. I admit I am more sensitive to swearing than most people. I grew up in a home with very conservative language and for the first 28 years of my life was not around much swearing. And I am very grateful for that. It was a blessing. It taught me a lifelong lesson about choosing wisely the words we speak.
Perhaps this mom was having an off night or going through a hard time and this was her outlet for expressing her feelings. I don’t know her situation, but here is what I do know: Our words are the single most important tool given to us humans by God. It is easy to underestimate the power of our words; don’t, because they matter greatly.
Our words can be used to build people up or tear people down; to encourage and lift people’s spirit or sap their joy, cloud their thinking and burden them with negativity. Demolishing is easy; takes no skill or mental effort. I have no construction skills, but I have helped demolish rooms for a remodeling project.
Sometimes with our words it’s like a sledgehammer: no planning; no thinking. We swing away and all of a sudden we look around and all we’ve got is a pile of broken relationships. But building takes skill, thought and hard work. Ephesians 4:29 is advice our culture is in great need of: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Too often, myself included, we carelessly say what we want to say, what is helpful to us. That is selfish and immature. Our words need to be heavily slanted towards what is helpful for building others up. Our words, texts, social media posts must take into account the needs of others. When we build others up we have accomplished much more than when we pursue our agendas.
As I write this I am on an airplane from Minneapolis to Atlanta. I am sitting next to a lady from Minot. As we visited before taking off I learned that her father and mother-in-law were close friends of my mom’s in Williston. They were always kind and encouraging to my sister and me. I was able to share words of thanks and encouragement with her based on the words and positive attitudes of her in-laws; what a blessing!
Who can you encourage and build up with your words today? God bless you. See you soon!