Book Club Discussion: Chapter One: The Weight of Your Words, by Joseph M. Stowell
In Chapter One, Stowell sets the stage for understanding the power of our words to build up or destroy when he re-tells the poignant true story of a high school student who really wants to sing in the school musical but is convinced he can't hold a candle to the other kids. His music teacher, Mrs. Wilson, sensitive to the need to encourage her student, convinces him to try out and then rewards his efforts with a resounding affirmation of his talent, telling him “You are JUST RIGHT for the part!”
Unfortunately, as the student grows and begins to believe in himself, the following year, Mrs. Wilson is replaced. The newly confident student, beginning to believe in his talent after a year of affirmation from Mrs. Wilson, tries out for another singing part in front of 150 of his peers. The new teacher speaks only six words to his student, following his audition. “Who told you, you can sing?”
The student, now a grown man, recounts this story with the pain of that memory still in tact. The insensitive words of this teacher destroyed the boy's self-confidence and set him up for years of self-rejection as he replayed the tape of those words over and over again in his head. By the student's own re-counting of this experience, it took him eight years before he would even try to sing again...
Can you relate?! Do you remember some unkind, even cruel, words that somebody felt free to spew in your direction as a child or teenager? Maybe a nickname that you were saddled with that makes you flinch even as an adult? Sticks and stones can break our bones, and words can deeply hurt us!
The thought of having a stick of dynamite in our mouths is unpleasant, but that is exactly how Dr. Stowell describes the power of the tongue. Amen! He concludes with five principles for taming the tongue, found in the book of James. Basically, they boil down to these:
- Spiritual maturity requires us to control our tongue! (requires!)
- The tongue is small, but mighty (loose lips sink ships)
- Our words are potentially combustible (so don't flip the switch)
- The tongue is like a wild beast! (ever ride a tiger?)
- The tongue tends to promote a double standard (do not speak with forked tongue)
Stowell gets right in our faces when he talks about our tendency to excuse our tongues from the call to spiritual maturity. He makes his case citing our lame rationalizations such as 'we need to pray about this' or 'my sources are reliable or I wouldn't say anything'! Darn. I think he knows us too well!
I found Chapter One of this book to be extremely convicting! Not sure I want to read any more! But, in the end, I went on and read Chapter Two. I'm still recovering! It definitely deserves a place of its own! If you haven't read it yet, that gives you another week to jump in and join us. If you dare!
Definitely, not for the faint of heart. Looking in the mirror, sans makeup, can be very scary, indeed!
Questions: Ever been on the receiving end of a cutting tongue? How did it affect you?
Ever been involved in a christian group that excused unkind or out of control speech?
Ever struggled with a damaged self-image as a result of careless words?
Note: This discussion is a part of the “Even My Dog Likes to Read” Book Club series. You can find all book reviews by clicking on either label at the bottom of the page, right side. Hope you join us next week!