“A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything – or destroy it!” James 3 (The Message)
Words – What words do you use?
I am at a writer’s retreat this week working with fellow writers I admire and respect. Every day I work on writing so readers will want to read.
An author uses words to create and “paint” their stories and adventures for their readers, much as a painter uses paints to produce visual scenes of life. A reader can be enlightened, informed, motivated, encouraged or just entertained from words. Fiction writers take you into new worlds as well as enlarging the world we live in. Non fiction writers can open the doors to a better understanding of themselves, their world and God.
The author goes on to say in the same chapter of James, “A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that [set off a forest fire]. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke. . . “
As a psychology teacher and therapist, I am acutely aware of the damage words can have on the lives of individuals. When children hear words of condemnation and constant reprimands, they learn that they are worthless. When discipline is simply punishment without understanding of appropriate behavior and consequences, they learn anger, distrust and dishonesty instead of accountability and responsibility. Adults with deep childhood scars come through the therapy doors every day – it doesn’t matter how far advanced they are in their careers.
The divorce rate continues to rise – in fact, people believe it is easier to live together instead of getting married partly because they believe it is easier to get out of the relationship. It isn’t getting married that causes a high divorce rate – it is choosing a partner with whom you can build a committed relationship. We do not know how to communicate our needs, respect our differences or negotiate our wants.
Words. You do not need to be an author to think about the words you use. Every day the words we use have the ability to destroy people or lift them up and encourage them.
Words can build a relationship or destroy it. They can encourage children to become responsible individuals or become devious and dishonest. They can motivate a person down and out to try again and believe in their God-given talents or skills, or they can tear down and destroy incentive. Honest critique is not the same as destructive criticism with no saving grace.
I am challenged every time I put the pencil to paper or type words on my computer. I challenge you to be as careful in the choice of words you speak to the people in your lives.