Summary: #11 in the Book of James Series begins a discourse on controlling the tongue.
11 The Tongue Can Make or Break You
Book of James Series
By Pastor Jim May
There’s one little part of the body that all of us have a hard time controlling and that’s the tongue. That one little muscle is responsible for much grief in the world, and it has been the culprit behind many failed marriages, split churches and even caused wars to be fought where many people lost their lives. If we could only learn to control the tongue, we would be far better off.
Christians are no different from the world when it comes to how we use our tongues. In fact some of the worst tongue lashings that I have ever received came from the tongues of Christians in moments of anger. Such a small member but it causes such huge problems.
And the problems don’t end when you step into a place of leadership either; in fact, our ability, or inability, to control the tongue is magnified when we step into leadership positions.
If you desire to be a leader in the church, or a boss on the job, then controlling your tongue is an absolute must.
James 3:1, "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation."
You can often fall into the crowd and keep a low profile and your words may not always be heard. Sometimes you can get away with a little comment that out of place and people will just overlook what you say. But that’s not the case when you are in a place of leadership.
When you stick your head above the crowd, you can rest assured that someone is going to try to throw a rock at you. Maybe it’s not a stone that will bruise your head, but throwing a slur, or a tale of gossip will wound your heart and spirit. Every word you speak as a leader is going to be scrutinized and examined closely, and people will let you know very quickly if you’ve said something wrong. That’s just the way it is, and rightly so.
If you are in the position of a leader, or a master, then you are in a position where you have the lives of other people in your hands, at least to some degree. Every word you say and everything you do will effect each of them either positively or negatively.
If you say and do the right thing then nothing much will be said most of the time, but if you fail, then get ready for the criticism to come.
Those who take on the position of a master often bring much grief upon themselves because they let leadership go their head. Many people, even pastors, believe that when they are given that position that it gives them the right to rule and reign over those in the congregation. That’s just not the way it works.
A pastor is a servant, but not just a servant, but the greatest servant in the church. We are not bosses. We are not rulers. We are servants.
Jesus said in Matthew 23:11, "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." A servant commands no one. A servant only develops followers because they like the way he serves and nothing else. A servant has no power or control, only influence that comes from the heart.
General Eisenhower would demonstrate the art of leadership with a piece of string. He’d put it on a table and say: "PULL it and it will follow wherever you wish. PUSH it and it will go nowhere at all. It’s just that way when it comes to leading people. They need to follow a person who is leading by example."
At another time he said, "You do not lead by hitting people over the head--that’s assault, not leadership."
Another of our nation’s great leaders knew these lessons too and demonstrated them during his lifetime.
During the American Revolution a man in civilian clothes rode past a group of soldiers repairing a small defensive barrier. Their leader was shouting instructions, but making no attempt to help them. Asked why by the rider, he retorted with great dignity, “Sir, I am a corporal!” The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers. The job done, he turned to the corporal and said, “Corporal, next time you have a job like this and not enough men to do it, go to your commander-in-chief, and I will come and help you again.” With that George Washington got back on horse and rode off.
Another thing about being a master is this. James is also talking about being a teacher, especially of the Word of God.
When we act in that office, or calling, we have the very eternal souls of people in our hands and there is no greater responsibility. One word can save a soul if it inspired of the Holy Ghost, but one word can also cause a soul to be lost too.