Be careful with your words…

September 14, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”  (Unknown)

Also today’s quote of the day from a site that I get a daily feed from had this quote –  “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.” (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

Both contain great advice about watching what you say, or at least being more aware and careful about it.

Freed went on to write about his Swedish Uncle John admonishing a then sassy child to  “Tyst med du!” which meant, “Be quiet!”, in Swedish.

Sáenz related a story that he had written about a child named Ari who’s father came back from the View Nam war a changed man, seemingly uncommunicative and very careful with his words. Ari came to appreciate his father’s careful choice of words when he did speak.

We should all be more careful about what we say, instead of just blurting out the first things that comes to mind. Maybe that is why we need the Lord to keep his hand over our mouths. Invariably, when I stifle the urge to blurt something out in reaction to an event or person, I quickly realize how inappropriate, or maybe even hurtful, it would have been to let that thought fly out of my mouth. Does that ever happen to you?

I have noticed the trait in some people to give thoughtful consideration to what they are about to say and the words that they will use. President Barack Obama was one of those people. If you watched him closely, you could actually see that he was considering the words to use when answering a question or making a statement. I suspect that some of that was his legal background.

Being careful about what you say, and about the words that you chose to say it, requires the discipline to stop and think before using your mouth. People may think of you as being deliberate and that is a good thing. Spontaneity is a good thing if you are cheering for a great play in sports; however, it can be a dangerous thing if you engage your mouth before engaging your brain in response to someone’s question or statement.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a rich source for advice about our words –

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”

Start your day by adding the line from Jack’s Winning Words to your prayer and imagine throughout the day that the Lord has his hand on your mouth. Take time to think before you speak, and the Lord will remove his hand. Bring satisfaction from the words that you let slip during the day.


Is it compassion or coercion? Speak up!

September 3, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote from Jane Goodall – “The least I can do is speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.”

Jane_Goodall_2015Of course, Goodall was speaking about her life-long work with chimpanzees. Over time Goodall became recognized as the “voice of the chimpanzees”, speaking on their behalf to try to get them protections and better treatment.

Many pet owners (myself included) become the voice of their pets, sometimes carrying on conversations with them by asking and answering questions of them or expressing what we believe to be their feelings at the time. I know that my two dogs Saddie and Skippy have different and distinct voices as I speak for them.

Here is also a tendency on the part of some to try to talk on behalf of others who do have the ability to speak, but who chose to remain silent. These representations of the thoughts and will of others often start with the phrase “Everybody says or everybodydebaters knows…” In those cases, the speaker has actually usurped and perhaps distorted the thoughts and opinions of other.  That happens a loty in politics these days as various speakers loudly proclaim toe be “speaking for all of us”.

In the case of Jane Goodall it was compassion for the inability of her beloved chimpanzees to actually speak in order to communicate their needs and thoughts. In the case of many loud and outspoken people these days it is a form of coercion that drives them to speak on others behalf. They believe that they can take advantage of the silence of others to further their own causes.

So whenever you hear sentences starting with “Nobody wants…” or “Everybody knows…” or maybe “The majority of us believe…”, immediately question the speaker about who gave them the authority to speak on your behalf, or for anyone else for that arrogantmatter. Ask them what statistics they have (and from what source) to back up their assertion that their statement represents the sentiments of some portion (large or small) of the sentiments of the general population. Don’t accept the “I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true” defense of the stupid statements that you may hear. Recent news has shown that unscrupulous actors trying to influence you towards some belief may plant much of what you may see on the Internet there. Certainly almost nothing on the Internet has been subjected to verification of any level of rigor.

So, are you letting someone else speak for you? You might as well be one of Goodall’s chimpanzees. Take the time to think about things, research things and form your own opinion about things. Don’t let others coerce you into allowing them to speak for you. It’s OK to belong to one political party or another, but try to be more like John McCain was,John_McCain-1 have your own opinion, based upon your own moral values and don’t just go along with the party line when it doesn’t fit those values.

McCain was called a maverick for his independent streak; but, in reality, he just decided long ago not to let someone else speak for him. He did not toe the party line when it didn’t feel right to him. We also see stories in the papers about Democrats (mostly new one or those running to replace retiring members of congress) who have stated that they will defy their party line and support someone other than Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker, if their party prevails in the fall elections. They are the John  McCain’s of their party seeking to speak for themselves and that’s a good thing. 

chimpanzeeSo, resolve to speak for yourself and not to let others usurp that role. If you don’t, you might as well sit over in the corner and eat your banana.


Change your world today…

January 11, 2017

“You can change your world by changing your words.”  (Joel Osteen) – from some time ago on my favorite source of inspiration, the Jack’s Winning Words blog. 

I don’t recall what Jack said about this little quote at the time, but I knew that I wanted to save it and write something about it later. I’ve posted here a few times about attitude and how having a positive attitude can change things in your life. The words that one chooses to use can both spring from that attitude and impact it at the same time.

It may seem to you to be a simplistic view of life that your words matter so much; however,different beliefs if you choose to use upbeat and positive words to describe the things and people around you it will reinforce your positive attitude about life. If your words are harsh or critical, things will look a lot darker around you. People might start avoiding you, because they don’t want to be dragged down by your words or they may approach you in an argumentative way, because they find your words to be offensive or hurtful.

It may take a conscientious effort to choose to use positive and upbeat words, rather than just throw out the first words that come to mind; but, after a while, you will notice that the words of encouragement and thanks and praise come more naturally. It also requires more thought about the way the words that you use are received and perceived by those with whom you are speaking. I was recent sent a link to an article on the use of words in business for use as an educational topic at an upcoming referral network group meeting. The article was entitled Phrases Smart People Refuse To Use In Conversation by Dr. Travis Bradberry. One example from this article demonstrates how the words you use about the same topic can be taken by the listener as either hurtful or positive.

Bradbury wrote this about the words not to use with someone who has lost weight –

“Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.

Instead say: “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.

You can see how even an innocent comment that is meant as a compliment can be taken the wrong way by the listener. So, it’s not just positive vs. negative words that one needs to be concerned about, but rather how all of the words that we use to try to communicate will be received.

obamhaUsing the right words requires attention and concentration. One of the aspects that I most admired about outgoing President Barrack Obama is his very measured, thoughtful and precise use of the language. You can tell by watching him speak that he is carefully choosing the words that he uses to make sure that they get his points across in an unambiguous manner. Let’s all hope that the incoming Tweeter-in-Chief can indeed “act Presidential” as he claimed during his campaign and do a better job of communicating his thoughts when he has to use more than 140 characters.

So, resolve to take the time and make the effort to choose your words more wisely and to use positive and upbeat words wherever you can today. See if that doesn’t have a positive impact on you and the people around you. Your words can paint a picture of you as EeyoreSnoopy joy the sad donkey in Winnie the Pooh or as the happy, dancing Snoopy in the Peanuts comic. Which would you rather be perceived to be?

Speak happy, be happy!  Change your world today.