“You’ll probably end up in jail one day!”
I’ve taught classes in our local jail for 3 years now. I ask every class, approximately 70 men at a time, how many heard the above statement as a child. Every time 33%+ raise their hands. Unscientific. But if we could have added positive words of affirmation and/or Gospel centeredness to these lives, would things have gone differently before now. Can’t help but ask that.
- “I’m proud of you!”
- “God’s going to use you!”
- “I love you!”
- “You’re doing great!”
- “Jesus, loves you!”
- “I’m praying for you.”
These are words that shaped my mind and heart as a boy and I still love to hear them today. Trying to say them as many times as I can to my boys at home, to my new friends at our local jail, and to young boys that we’re hoping to get started in a mentoring program at local multi-housing complexes and to anyone else that will listen.
I also remember other words as well. In the 4th grade I tried out for basketball and didn’t make the team. I still remember the smell in the room, the sounds around me, and everything about that moment when the coach said, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH THIS YEAR!” She was right. And it inspired me to start practicing and better my game before try outs the next year. But HARSH and CARING words can both stick with us and shape our futures.
Proverbs 21:18 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”
What words have shaped you? Are you passing them on to others? Are you passing on death or life to those around you with your words?