We begin every day with the possibility of making a positive difference in someone's life. On the other hand, we need to also remember that what we say might be remembered by another. And--it might be remembered because it was so negative, discouraging, etc.
In the last few weeks, I have had conversations with a number of people who have experienced some kind of disappointment or discouragement. It is amazing how much of this is connected with what other people have said. Words that were used. A tone of voice. A choice of language.
An engaged young woman spoke about her disappointment in relatives who communicated to her that marriage was foolish, silly, etc. (Their own marriages had ended in divorce).
A young man sat through a congregational meeting at his church. The church leaders presented some thoughts. Then church members were permitted to make comments or ask questions. This young man was amazed by the sarcasm, the fear, and the negativity expressed by a number of church members. Immediately after it was over, he went home and called his dad, a long time minister in another state. He asked him, "Dad, what in the world was that?" (His dad is a good friend of mine).
One evening, a woman was laughing, talking and just enjoying herself with a few friends at a gathering. One man, with a smirk on his face, asked her if she was taking her medication. (This was a public place and was asked in front of other people). I saw the look on her face when he said that. (She had taken a lot of medication through the years for a variety of reasons). I suspect she still remembers that evening.
Sometimes, we just don't think about what we are saying. We don't think about the damage that we might be doing because of what we are saying.
I don't want to be the one who discourages a young person who wants to get married to a good Christian young man. I don't want to be the one who discourages a young man by my comments in a church meeting. I don't want to be the one who says something flippant about someones medication and embarrasses her.
A few years ago, I was at a seminar. A young man walked in late and sat down in one of the very few empty seats left. The session was about to begin. The young man turned to his right and said hello to the person sitting next to him. Then he turned to his left. The man sitting to his left was actually a part of the school conducting this seminar. The young man said, "How are you this evening?" The man glanced at him and curtly said, "fine" and looked off in another direction. A few minutes later, this same man abruptly gathered his notebook, pen, etc. and moved to the other side of the room. The young man watched the guy as he moved away from him. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
My talk, my words, my behavior can make a lasting impression on people. I want to make sure that I think about what I am saying today and the impression I may be leaving with people.
Meanwhile, I am so thankful for people who are having a positive, encouraging impact on other people because of their words. May their numbers increase. And--may I be a part of their tribe.