The Power of the Tongue
Over the years, I have come to settle on one word that I believe defines leadership well, that word is - influence. Influencing is what a leader does, but the method and way in which they influence also comes down to one word, communication.
Now, when I use the word communication, I'm including everything, not just verbal communication. Did you know that communication is 38% tone, 55% body language, and 7% verbal (subject matter)!?!
That's why texting is such an awful form of communication, it depends on that 7% to accurately convey an intended meaning.
I once did a session on communication and we read through numerous Bible passages that referred to speech and the tongue. Needless to say, reading through so many at one time, with the same message reiterated again and again, was convicting!
Here are a few that I need to constantly remember...
“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37)
“With it [the tongue], we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:9-10)
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
“Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God” (1 Peter 4:11a)
I don't think we remember nearly often enough just how powerful the tongue is...James likens it to fire that can set a forest aflame. We all know the destruction that can come from a forest fire, do we know how much destruction can come from our tongue?
Because leadership is essentially the act of communication, we need to be even more diligent with our words and whether they build up or tear down those that are following us.
There are often times in ministry when God asks us to communicate things that are challenging, or outside of our comfort zone. I think of Moses who was told to go to Pharaoh with God's message.
“Then Moses said to the LORD, 'Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue'”
(I'm sure he was taught how to speak well while in Pharaoh's household)
“The LORD said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind” Is it not I, the LORD? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say”. (Exodus 4:10-12)
How often do we give God this same excuse? Do we ever allow Him to prove His faithfulness when we feel called to speak, or do we just choose to disregard the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I know I have been guilty of that a few times and I still remember the specific instances to this day.
In the same way God promised Jeremiah and Ezekiel the words to say. Even Christ Himself said to his disciples, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” (Matthew 10:19-20).
We are truly blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit! Do we allow Him to speak when He is supposed to, or do we fear to trust Him?
The other aspect of our communication which is absolutely vital to it being received by the listener is love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1, likens the most eloquent of speech devoid of love to that of a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. Certainly not something someone would choose to listen to for very long.
Again he challenges us in 1 Corinthians 16:14, to “Let all you do be done in love”. I need this as a daily reminder, how about you?
When I was a child, my mom made us all memorize Psalm 19:14. Each morning after breakfast we would pray together and then recite this verse together. At the time I didn't fully appreciate the exercise, but now can see the value in it.
David said, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.”
May that be the prayer of our heart each day!
*Originally posted on The Eddy Blog 2016