The Power Of The Tongue

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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."
- Unknown

"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 way towards me. He was a highly-regarded person and I was excited to have the opportunity to chat with 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 ‘heavyweight 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.

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.