The Power of the Tongue…
It was my first full-time position as a youth worker. I had been serving as a youth worker for a couple years, but only in the part-time and volunteer roles. This was it. I was excited. I was full of energy. I was ready for anything and everything. Or so I thought.
Along with it being my first full-time position, this was my first big youth event. An all-nighter. The festivities started with dinner at the Olive Garden, followed by cosmic bowling. After that, it was back to the church for games, activities, and food. You see I was dumb enough then to actually like all-nighters. But I wised up quickly.
The event went off without a hitch. It was great. There was a bunch of students in attendance. I had a wonderful group of parents helping in various supportive roles. We came in under budget. Everyone had a great time. It couldn’t have gone any better. Well it could have, had it not been for one big issue.
I made a student cry.
Now it wasn’t because I had to tell them no, because they wanted to do something that we hadn’t planned. It wasn’t because someone stepped out of line requiring a certain level of discipline. It wasn’t because anyone got physically injuried and had to be sent home or to the ER.
No, I made the student cry because I spoke to them.
You see, I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but, I can sometimes be very sarcastic. Sometimes my sarcasm is funny, bringing laughter and good times. And sometimes my sarcasm is hurtful, misunderstood, and very frank. I don’t remember what I said, but I do remember how I felt when this student left the table at dinner to ball their eyes out in the bathroom.
It started with some light banter. Humorous and witty. But before I knew it, I found out something about that student that I exploited, mocking them relentlessly. But I was oblivious to it because those around us were laughing as much as I was. For me, it was sign that they liked me. They were welcoming me a their new leader. They were getting what I was saying and we were all having a great time. That is except for this student.
What I realized afterward was that they weren’t laughing with me. They were simply laughing at the student, and I was the ring leader. I felt horrible.
Here I was, the youth pastor; someone who was suppose to raise the bar, set a higher standard, be someone who the students felt safe around, someone they knew would love them, care for them and be there for them. I was the one who was to speak words of truth into their lives, encouraging them, building them up, helping them to mature in their faith. Not that night. That night I was just like any other dumb boy.
That night I realized the power of my words. Oh I knew the power of my words before. I had shared the gospel message with students and I had seen them be led to the Lord, surrendering their lives. I knew what it was to speak truth into someone life and that life change everything about itself. Yeah, I knew the power of words. But for the first time, I saw the power of negative words; the words that hurt, the words that broke someones heart, the words that I didn’t want to every hear come from my mouth again.
That night was an humbling moment in my life. I had to seek forgiveness from God and I had to seek forgiveness from that student, and I had to apologize for my actions before the students who witnessed the painful event.
Not the way you want to start off a new ministry. Not the first impression you want to make with a group of students.
Words have Power…
Our words have power. What we speak makes an impact on those around us. What we say can have life long effect on the life of the person we say them to.
As believers, the bar has been raised. We have a higher standard by which we are to live. The words we say come with greater consequences then we sometime realize.
Our words have power.
James takes us to a place that can be very difficult for us as we seek to live lives of faith. James 3:1-12, addresses how we speak and the words we use. And it comes with some harsh words that, if we really want to live a faithful, obedient life, we must consider and amend the habits we have constructed in our lives.
Let’s consider what James writes in chapter 3. There are three lessons that we need to learn when it comes to what James writes about the Taming of the Tongue.
1. The need to control our tongue…
2. The danger of an Uncontrolled tongue…
3. The rightful use of the tongue…
This week we will look at each one of these lessons. Our goal, to life the life of faith, even in how we speak.