Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
My dad and I used to canoe quite a bit when I was a kid. I loved our time on the water paddling around. I was always so amazed at how easily my dad could steer us from the rear of the canoe with just a slight change in the position of his paddle. It didn’t take much effort on his part to completely alter the direction we were headed.
The same can be said for the words we speak. We don’t always think about the fact that our words can have a profound effect on both the listener and the speaker, but they can. They have the power to quickly and completely change the direction of a conversation, a relationship, even a life. Hurtful or unkind words can leave some of the deepest wounds, driving apart friendships and families. Words spoken without much thought as to how the hearer may internalize them have great power too. They may create expectations, values, or standards we never intended to set.
But if we can master the art of the careful navigation of what we say, what joy, encouragement, wisdom, and leadership our words can bring about!