Summary: Getting a grip on what I say, so I can be a positive influence for Christ.

Power Under Control

(Christian Survivor Series; Living Godly In a Godless World)

James 3.1-12 February 25, 2001

Nancy Stoffregen¡¦s grade school daughter, Emily, fidgeted nonstop during the new pastor¡¦s first sermon. After 20 minutes of sighing and wiggling, she turned to her mother and whispered, "Mom, does this guy get paid to do this?" Mom smiled and nodded her head. Ten more minutes passed and his sermon still wasn¡¦t close to conclusion. Again, Emily tugged at my arm and in a low voice said, "How much?" (Nancy Stoffregen Depa, Geneva, IL. "Heart to Heart," Today¡¦s Christian Woman.)

The power of words¡K

21Death and life are in the power of the tongue: Proverbs 18:21a (KJV)

One web site allows us to measure ourselves by the words of others. You can find out how attractive you are by sending your picture to The Internet audience will rate you on a scale of 1 to 10. If this is too intimidating, you can simply choose to rate other people. Since opening on October 9, 2000, 163,000 people have submitted photos and the site gets 10 million page views a day.

James called the tongue a raging fire, totally unable to be tamed. In his opening statement of the chapter he cautions believers to not enter a ministry of teaching lightly. The tongue is a dangerous weapon, and there are lives at stake.

James tells us the tongue is like the rudder on a big ship, or a bit in the horse¡¦s mouth. It is a small thing, behind the scenes, yet the most powerful muscle in the body. It should be used for the highest of purposes!

Use your words to TEACH

George Lucas is Star Wars¡¦ creator. He was given a lifetime achievement trophy at the Academy Award ceremonies in 1992. In accepting he said, I¡¦ve always tried to be aware of what I say in my films because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices.

(Jeffrey Arthurs, Portland, Oregon; source: Newsweek, (12-18-00), p. 16)

A man once wrote, I overheard my mother passing along to my father a newsy tidbit, concerning a neighbor. "You know you shouldn¡¦t repeat stories about others," I said with mock seriousness. "That makes you a gossip." "I¡¦m not a gossip!" she snapped back. "I¡¦m a news analyst."

(James J. Saunders in Reader¡¦s Digest)

We are all teachers, and we are teaching all the time. Jesus said you shall be my witnesses (Acts 1.8). When I attended New York Institute of Technology, I had a creative writing teacher who encouraged me greatly. I turned in a bad essay ¡V it was full of big words to impress my teacher. It was poorly conceived, badly composed, and grammatically a stench in the nostrils of all my English teachers combined. She handed it back to me without a grade. What she did say was, How about choosing a subject about which you know something? Write it plain, so I¡¦ll understand it.

My teacher wasn¡¦t interested in my vast vocabulary ¡V she wanted to help me grow as a writer. So I went back to the drawing board. I turned in a story about our church youth camping trip. It was ok ¡V even a bit sappy. But her words, written in red on that paper are forever an encouragement:

Russell ¡V this is more like it!

This is good ¡V you should really do something with your writing ¡V submit it to a publisher.

I don¡¦t know how I ever got the courage to submit anything to a publisher ¡V but the mere fact that I ever did is attributable to a teacher whose name I can¡¦t even remember. Her words taught me to try.

Use your words to LEAD

As in teaching, leading is always happening too. Leading, good or bad, is a matter of the example we set by our response to the world around us.

After three years of researching gossip, Indiana University sociologist Donna Eder has identified an important dynamic involved in gossip. Eder discovered that the initial negative statement was not the starting point for gossip. The critical turning point was found in the response to the initial negative statement. "She¡¦s a real snob," is not the start of gossip. It¡¦s when someone else agrees that the gossip fest begins.

Eder found that the key is whether or not a negative statement is "seconded". If a second is provided, gossip ensues. If not, the conversation changes direction. "No one ever challenged an evaluation that had been seconded. Conversely, no matter how cutting the remark, an immediate quibble from a listener could send talk into a less critical direction."

The moral, you can abort gossip bound conversations by quickly affirming the person being targeted for negative comments.

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