Words can harm you and others
By the Rev. Dr. Rick Vance
When I was growing up, I remember my parents telling me “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you.”
As a child, when I was in the normal disagreements with my brother or other friends, I found comfort in those words. Now as an adult, I have seen just how wrong that statement can be.
Proverbs 18:21a reminds us; “the tongue has the power of life and death.”
Over the last year, in public discourse and in church conversations, I have seen how words can and have been used intentionally to cause harm to entire groups of people.
This is particularly troubling in the church.
In speaking with younger men who are not regular participants in their parents’ church, their biggest “red flag” about the church is when they see people not doing what they say they believe. In short, they hear how we speak to and about each other and want no part of it.
Ephesians 4:29 says; “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Men’s ministry is about modeling how to support and build up people; it is not about modeling how to tear people down.
While most people would never think about speaking harm to someone in the church, we are evaluated by what we say both inside and outside the church.
I challenge you to embrace the words of Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Will you be instruments of God’s grace and use your words to build up and not tear down?
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but and words will never also harm you and others.”
Your brother on the journey,
The Rev. Dr. Rick Vance, director of the Center for Men’s Ministries
General Commission on UM Men