Being Wise in Our Words
Psalm 2:10-11 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (KJV)
In May of this year, I attended the Fresh Start training program for pastors who were scheduled for fresh starts at new appointments in July. One of our speakers (who happens to be our very own district superintendent, Rev Bob Bushong) briefly mentioned that leaders need to be self-aware. He pointed out that sometimes President Trump was not aware or did not understood the impact his words and actions have on Americans and the people of the world.
Being a world leader is a big deal and being the president of United States is a really big deal! I did not take that as a judgement but rather an observation. I have now had many months to think about Bob’s words and I think he was right, the office of president is powerful and the President must be self-aware. If anything, many folks today, through social media, are not aware of the impact their words have on others. Our words do matter.
Since that revelation on “self-awareness” I have been paying attention to the actions of all leaders, including myself. Being self-aware and the impact of what we say (or do not say) has powerful implications in our society…like ripples in a lake. Last night at the Bishop’s town hall meeting in Jacksonville, Bishop Carter commented on the words and actions pastors might say or not say can be very important in the life of the church. New ministries can start with just one word. I knew that Cindy Fox and Daniel Vergara were interested in a mission trip to Cuba and it was important to this church. My words empowered and encouraged their ideas and actions to lead a mission encounter with our sister Cuban churches. With just a nod last Sunday, Dona Butler was inspired to become instrumental in a 5K run. I cannot help but wonder what other words of encouragement I can use to inspire God’s people to follow the path of Jesus?
I remember as a teenager, parents would remind us of “who we are.” In other words, guard your words/actions and honor of your family name. “Don’t embarrass us” they might have said. In the broader sense, I’m not just a Golden, I’m also an American and a Christian. I belong to my family name, my country and I’m a member of the household of faith. In all endeavors, we must remember who we are and who’s we are.
Our text uses the Hebrew word “melekh” to describe king. This word is loosely translated as king, but can also be used for local leader or ruler such as a mayor, governor, or president. Sometimes the “melekhs” of modern society are not as self-aware as leaders ought to be. When we accept the yoke of leadership, be it president, pastor, or the variety of lay leadership roles in the church, we should never lose sight that words matter, people matter, and unity coupled with compassion does not go out of style.
Pastors can either impede or embrace the “priesthood of all believers.” We have not grown in wisdom because we gained gray hair and many years. We gain wisdom because we are both self-awareness and we listened to the wise words of others including the Holy Spirit. We recognize that we have been entrusted with a small slice of time and only by God’s grace are we tools of empowerment.
Just the endorsement of a word or phrase can elevate an entire new movement. I specifically chose to use the King James Version of the Bible today because of the words used in verse 12 (as opposed to other more popular versions): “and ye perish from the way.” I cannot help but wonder how many folks “have perished from the way of Christ Jesus” in our society today? How many of us do not realize we are graced with “mentoring” words of encouragement that build others up instead of dividing and tearing down lives that have immeasurable worth? I must admit, I cannot fully comprehend the blessing of this church as we are inspired to follow the “way of Jesus.”
This morning I visited with Eva Jerome in the hospital. I asked her if she was doing okay? She said to me, “I’m okay as long as God wills it.” She then went on to reflect how wonderful life has been to her, but giving the credit fully and completely to God. I was on a pastoral call to encourage her, but her words were an amazing encouragement to me! I want to grow up to be just like Eva!
Be self-aware and use your words to encourage and build up others. Be wise and “follow the way” and may God abundantly bless you.