Have you ever received a “tongue lashing” from someone – a really harsh scolding? Maybe you got a tongue lashing for being a misbehaved child. Maybe you were scolded at work for a project that went south. The tongue is such a strong instrument of power. It wields the power to lift up and unite and create joy. It also wields the power to cause pain and suffering.
Do you build people up or do you tear them down with your words? There is a very old book that says, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” It’s true. Have you ever wanted to take something back right after you said it? Have you ever thoughtlessly judged or antagonized someone only to feel worse yourself? Have you ever spread gossip only to feel guilty for doing it, or worse, have it come back to bite you? Have you ever used harsh language only to find your child repeat it later on?
Can you recall a time when you were hurt by someone’s words? Maybe you’ve forgiven them by now, yet you can still recall the feeling of pain it caused you. Words can be forgiven but they can also be scarring, so be careful how you use that tongue of yours. What you say may not so quickly be forgotten, even if it’s forgiven.
Use your words to build people up, build confidence in people. Use your words to heal someone’s heart. Use your words to show love and encouragement. Instead of criticism, give constructive feedback. Sometimes it’s just how you present the information to someone that makes all the difference.
How will you use that powerful tool between your teeth? Next time you find yourself rushed to anger, take a breath and choose your words wisely. I have a hard time with this, and I often speak before I think, but it’s something I’m working on all the time. Hopefully you’ll join me in this effort. Just a thought.