Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
It has been a challenging week for University of Iowa basketball fans. First, at the end of a loss, head coach Fran McCaffery was suspended a couple games for cursing out a referee, using vile language. Meanwhile, famed University of Iowa basketball play-by-play commentator, Gary Dolphin, was suspended for the rest of the year for comparing a basketball player to King Kong.
We are called to be responsible for what we say. Fran McCaffery is a grown man and should know better than to verbally attack a referee. Further, as a college coach, he has a special responsibility to set an example for others. Gary Dolphin has been at his chosen career for many years, and this is not the first time he has had to apologize for statements made. As a public figure, he should have been well aware of the implications of comparing someone to a huge ape.
Since the beginning of time, we human beings have suffered from our own words. As a friend’s song lyrics state, “the most dangerous organ on the human body is the tongue.” Ever wonder if you are mature or not – just consider what comes out of your mouth. The more we talk, the more vulnerable we become. Believe me, I pray almost daily that God will direct my words. When you speak publicly as much as I do, I am always concerned I will say something wrong or inappropriate by mistake.
A few months ago, a television news anchor was trying to say, “Martin Luther King, Jr.” His words ran together and he ended up accidentally saying something unfortunate. Even though he certainly didn’t mean to say it, he was fired and his life was turned upside down. This example is extreme, but it reminds us that we do need to be very careful and intentional about what comes out of our mouths. That is hard for someone like me, who thinks out loud.
Today, pray for God to give you and me the wisdom and clarity to use our words wisely. Help us learn to hold our tongue when we are angry, so we do not have a McCaffery moment. Help us learn to remain sensitive to what is respectful, so we do not make a Gary Dolphin type of mistake. Our words have power, whether we are a pastor, coach, sportscaster, or anyone else. Ask the Spirit to guide our words every minute of every day.