Communication is an awesome gift

Published 9:08pm Friday, January 27, 2012

I met him a few years ago at a conference. It was interesting since I’d just completed his book a few days before. I told Dr. John Howell who at the time taught at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City that I appreciated his book, and that one story in it moved me deeply.

Howell had a counselee who grew up “feeling worthless,” he wrote. He discovered the root of this was that her father’s most oft-spoken word to her as a child was “you are stupid.” The girl grew up believing her father.

I can’t imagine a father saying this to a child, but it’s true that words are powerful. Solomon long ago wrote, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

God has given us the ability to communicate, and it’s an awesome gift. This generation has seen great strides in the scope and speed of communication.

I’m an officer in a hobby club and our secretary called me this week and wanted a document. I promised to mail it to her in Ohio, which will take several days. Then I said, “Vivian, if you’d get a computer, you could have the document in about 30 seconds!”

Vivian is “old school” and won’t do this, but the speed of modern communication still amazes me since I remember cranking out documents on the old mimeograph machine!

As with God’s other gifts, speech can be used wisely or unwisely.

The essence of sin that separates us from God is taking his good gifts and using them in a wrong way, as the aforementioned father did.

That’s why we must be careful with our words. Sometimes we grow angry and lash out at others. And fairly quickly we regret what we’ve said and wish we could recall our words.

I’ve known pastors who have done this. From the security of the pulpit they give vent to angry tirades when the church is unfaithful or leaders aren’t cooperative. The English preacher Charles Spurgeon warned that the pulpit could become “coward’s castle” if this kind of thing happens.

Solomon insisted that wise words are like “apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). I confess I don’t understand his analogy, though it may refer to an item of jewelry. Whatever the picture, the king insisted that well-spoken words are among our most valuable possessions.

The current movie, “The Help,” has the wonderful actress Viola Davis, whom I first noticed in the “Jesse Stone” films, playing a maid in Mississippi. Every day she took her employer’s little girl in her arms and said, “You are kind. You are smart. You are important.”

These are words of life.

Editor's Picks