The Power Of The Tongue
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, The Message Bible says it this way:
Words kill, words give life.
The words we say to each other are so important. A quick look around the internet shows that there are thousands of quotes on the power of words. Here are a few I selected:
"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs."
- Pearl Strachan Hurd
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
- Mother Teresa
"The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words."
"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever."
- Jessamyn West
I remember so clearly an experience that took place more than 15 years ago. I was invited to play trumpet at a conference in South Australia which was a huge honour as the conference was a highly regarded annual event with thousands of people attending from all over Australia and beyond. The evening came and I played a jazz version of Jesus Loves Me accompanied by the full band. It was moving, the atmosphere was tangible – many people were crying as I played this classic song. Once I was done the delegates applauded enthusiastically and the conference director took the microphone and spoke so well of me and that ‘moment’ in the conference.
After that evening session I was together with other invited guests in the VIP lounge when the music director of the conference came in and made his was towards me. He was a highly-regarded person and I was excited to have the opportunity to chat to him. What happened next is as real today as 15+ years ago. He said: “You know Steve, you’re not a very good trumpet player. You are a very anointed guy, but it is not in playing the trumpet.”
I was devastated and in disbelief.
I had played trumpet all through school, I was the first trumpeter for the school orchestra and big band, I had competed in Jazz competitions, played as a guest with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and performed overseas. Sure there were plenty of other trumpeters better than me, but I could certainly hold my own; but now there I stood facing a man I looked up to, a ‘heavy weight in the church world’ telling me that I was no good.
One of my love languages is words of affirmation. I need people around me to say I am good, I am ok, everything will work out, keep going, you’re a champion etc…. it’s how I am wired. That man’s words, that pastor’s words, that day, wounded me as an early 30’s up-and-coming minister. His words were careless and full of death. I am sure he told his friends and colleagues that he was honest with Steve and told him the truth…but you see
Truth without love is brutality.
I have not played trumpet again publically or even privately since that day.
Our words are so important. When people are in a time of loss and grief our words need to be guarded and always full of compassion and sympathy.
In only a few days we celebrate Mothers Day which for many is such a sad and difficult time. Let us remember kindness, words full of compassion and hope.
Let our words bring life everywhere we go!
By Steve Morrison
P.S. Whenever I tell this story people tell me to play again and that I will be ok – Thank you for those who would say that to me now, but truly I am ok and happy to be a piano and bass guitar player.