“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3: 2,8, NIV

James offers a pretty strong warning about the destructive power of the tongue. No doubt, our words carry an almost indescribable force to tear down or build up. When I consider the power of words as described by James, I tend to think of my mouth as a “tool.” O.K. confession time – as soon as I start talking about tools I am way out of my area of expertise. Kick me out of the “man club” but I am just not a tool guy. My attempts at home improvements make Tim “the tool man” look smooth and Home Depot gives me the hives. But, even I know before you use an unfamiliar tool, and especially a power tool, it is a good idea to read the “safe usage instructions.” I found the following safety rules in the printed instruction manual for an electric drill at church. As you read these, notice how applicable the precautions are as you rev up your mouth and begin to use the power tool of words.

For use of this tool (my mouth):

  • Use special care in the presence of by-standers, visitors and children.
  • Stay Alert, watch what you are doing, and use common sense when operating a power tool, (my mouth). Do not use tool while tired or under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication.
  • Keep Safety Guards in Place
  • Do Not Overreach
  • Do not use this power tool (my mouth) in explosive atmosphere.

    And my favorite…..

  • Avoid accidental starting!

I am probably not the first guy to think about such a comparison. But if you are like me and have a high horse-power mouth, you would do well to consider these safety rules before you put these powerful words in gear.

QUESTION: How can you begin today to use your powerful words more positively and productively?