This week I started taking Asher to skating lessons. He did well…and by well I mean at one point he was flopping around on the ice like a fish out of water. But he did stand and skate on his own having a great time.
As I was waiting for him to come off, I heard a parent immediately share with their child how they can improve, what they need to do better, and how they can try harder. They were kind and quiet but still affirming all the work to be done.
Asher came off and immediately said – loudly and proudly – “Daddy I great at skating. I great skater”
Now objectively this is utterly false unless great skating means lying on the ice for 5 minutes. But I realized I had a chance to affirm the good in him or his lack. He was skating on his own which was new, learning to stand up from falling on his own, and he was trying hard (hence the tired lying on the ice). Was he gliding around the ice doing pirouettes…no of course not.
So the point though is this: so often we have chances and choices to affirm the good in people or their lack. We can affirm how they are growing, doing well, or where they are lacking. And I think we often choose to affirm the growth areas rather than the good already present. And I think that affirming the good in people is a little difference, that can make a huge difference.
And this is actually what God does so often as well.
He affirms the good in us rather than our lack: you are holy (Colossians 1:22), you have a new nature (Colossians 2:10), you are God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). And if God does that, I just think we should too. We should affirm the good we see in others. We should celebrate the imperfect steps people are taking towards good goals. We should be people who affirm the good rather than the lack.
So of course I said to Asher, “You did Great Asher – you’re a great skater”
On Sunday we looked at James 3. This is a very famous passage on the power of the tongue. How our words can destroy like fire, or how a little piece of our bodies can control our destiny. James wants us to control our tongues so we can gain control over every other area of our lives. James puts it this way, “We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way”. And that’s very true, as we gain self-control in this area of our lives, it spills over into all areas of our lives.
And to help us gain control, James wants us to envision a life without a wasted word. Can you imagine how much better your relationships, your friendships, or your family would be if you never said a word or phrase you regretted. James realizes that learning to control your words will bring a huge benefit to you and to the entire world.
So we landed on a really obvious main idea: Control your tongue. Not a new idea but a necessary and needed idea. All of our lives, careers, and relationships would be better if we could actually learn to control our tongues.
So we spent the majority of our time on some practical ways to gain mastery over this one area that causes so much difficulty.
The first point was to slow or stop our words. So often we speak without thinking, our thoughts simply flow out without any checks or balances. Very rarely have I ever regretted not saying something, often have I regretted saying something. So the first step is to stop or slow our words if we want to control our tongues. The truth is more than likely we can always go back and say things that were left unsaid, but never unsay something that was said. So that was the first step.
The second step was to actually choose our words. So often we don’t’ think through “will this help”, “will this change anything”, “is this the right time to share”. Instead, we respond to our feelings and reactions and rather than choosing our words carefully, regret our words frequently. So the second little step was to choose our words carefully when speaking. We do this in every important interaction in our lives, but forget it in our everyday lives. We choose our words carefully at job interviews, at important meetings, or in presentations – and then forget to choose them carefully with our spouses, friends, and kids. This is what needs to change.
Lastly, we looked at an amazing little video by Pixar called “For the Birds”. This video shows really well the danger of groupthink and how communication is more than words. I reminded us that in groups it is particularly important to be wary of what we say. Because it is so easy to slide into peer pressure and scapegoating others. We also need to be wary that communication is bigger than words, and that we need to watch not only our words but our actions as well.
With all of this we ended with a simple and clear challenge: to review how we spoke once a day. I challenged everyone to put a reminder into their phones to go off once a day for them to review how we are doing with controlling our tongues. As long as we remain unaware we will remain unchanged. So my challenge was this: slow your words, and choose your words. And this will make not only your world better, but the world around you too!
We love sharing everything about ourselves but have trouble editing what we say.
When you gain self-control in one major area It spills over into every other area of your life.
Control your tongue.
Rarely have a I regretted something not said.
Slow or stop your words before speaking.
Choose your words before sharing.
Groups can bring out our worst, so be wary.
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? What did you like about the movie? When have you regretted saying something? Why do you think it’s hard to control your words? What are some good reasons to actually put effort into this? What relationships might be changed quickly if you really worked at this? Who can help you work at this?
Discussion Questions for Young Families
Today simply watch your words with your kids. Did you know that kids on average receive 7 words of criticism for each word of affirmation. Flip that today, and focus on affirming, and see how that changes things!
Challenge for the Week: Slow your words, and choose your words.
On Sunday we are looking at a really well known passage in James. It’s all about the tongue and its power. This is something we all know, but so often we don’t actually do anything about. We know that our words can give life, or steal life. We all know that once something is said it’s impossible to get back. We all have moments where we wished we had said less.
So James is really not relaying anything new. But just because something isn’t new, doesn’t mean it’s not needed. Because I believe in our day and age, with instant communication, public comments on Twitter or Facebook – learning to control our tongues might just be the biggest relational skill necessary to survive in today’s day and age.
So that’s where we are going on Sunday, but to prep, why not watch this awesome short Pixar movie called “The Birds” because we are going to jump off it on Sunday.
So as we were driving to church one day, just Hudson and me, I said to him. “Hudson, Daddy loves you”. And Hudson had this funny little response, “He said Daaadddy (in that long drawn out way) you always say that!” And I said, “I know that buddy, I just don’t ever want you to forget that or doubt that.”
And he said, “Don’t worry Daddy, I know you love me because you wrestle with me, read with me, play Lego with me, we sit together and watch TV, you ride my bike with me, and play with me. I know you love me because we do all that together all the time”.
And that just made my day.
But I wanted to share it for a specific reason, what Hudson’s response reminded me of. And it’s this: Actions confirm words.
And here’s what that means for me. It is important to say I love you, but it is so much more important to say it and show it.
For Hudson, he doesn’t doubt that he is loved, because he hears it and sees it. The consistency of Krista and I saying it and trying to show it as best we can, gives him security and confidence that he is loved.
And this is my larger point in writing this today. Are there people that you need to show love to today? Are there actions that you need to take to confirm what’s in your heart?
Hudson’s response actually made me think about those closest to me. Would Krista be able to rhyme off a list like that right away? What about Asher, or my neighbors, or my mom or whomever?
My point is: are there people that we love, that we need to confirm it with our actions? Because love isn’t love unless it’s acting, moving, and being put into practice. So today put love into practice and confirm at least for someone, that they are loved.
While out for lunch with someone the other day, I simply shared a few thoughts about where they were at. I was trying to simply understand their space, and maybe give some words to what they were feeling. When this happened it was like an understanding or world opened up for them. They said, “that’s it exactly”. It’s as if words opened up space for understanding, acceptance, and new meaning.
I’ve often pondered over Genesis 1. God creates with words. I’ve often wondered how his words have so much power, or how he could create something through speech. I no longer wonder about this.
Words have power. And when you listen, share, and speak something into someone else’s life it can breathe life – literally. Words have the power to create, to open up new understanding, new worlds, and new life. Sitting at a table drinking coffee and talking a few days ago confirmed that to me. The simple act of sharing deep conversation opened up new possibilities. In the Bible James teaches us about the tongue and how words can be used to hurt, and harm. But the flipside is true too. Words can be used to create hope and health.
So the question then is what are your words doing? Creating life, heath, and hope? Because words have power.
So today listen, and share deeply. Use your words to create, give life, and in this way follow the model of God in Genesis 1. Speak new life into being for someone today, and see what happens…