“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever said this had no idea what they were talking about! Words can hurt us, and they can help us. Yesterday I was thinking about the impact of my mother on my life. One of the things I could be sure about with my mother was that she would be honest with me about whatever it was I was doing. I can remember when I began to play my trumpet in public, many people would come and tell me how great I had done. I would smile and thank them, but I was waiting to hear from my mother. She would offer constructive criticism each time, but it was always tempered by her absolute belief in me.
There was never a day that I left home wondering if my father and mother were behind me, pulling for me to do well. They always told me that I could do whatever it was I was facing. I will tell you honestly that this belief in myself has never come from my own confidence, or belief in myself. I have always (and still have) felt that I was inadequate for the job in front of me. God blessed me with parents, a wife, and children who have believed in me. Their words of confidence in me has often led me into things that were far too big for me.
Today I read, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). As I read this verse, I could not help but think of the power of the words that have been spoken to me. I thought also of the words I speak to others. As a father, grandfather, preacher, teacher, and coach, I have often had opportunities to either encourage or destroy the confidence of others. I have always tried to tell our children that I believed in them … because I do believe that the good work God has begun will be perfected in them.
I look back on my life and realize that there were pivotal times in my life when an encouraging word pushed me forward when everything inside me was pulling me back. I then watched God do work through my life that I knew was not from my abilities or strength, but totally the work of God. If others invested in my life in this way, it is now my responsibility to invest in the lives of those around me. I have also had people tell me that I would never amount to anything, and sadly, sometimes I believed them and did not step forward. Realize today that the words you speak to others today will matter in their lives. Will you sow seeds of encouragement, or will you sow seeds of discouragement. The choice is yours, but remember that words really do matter! Fill someone’s sail today and be a blessing!