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We Are the Champions
The heart of the wise instructs his mouth and adds persuasiveness to his lips. PROVERBS 16:23
I told you yesterday about a schoolteacher whose exasperated words left a permanent mark on my young spirit. How true it is that our words—especially those spoken in anger or under pressure—have the power to wound deeply and linger long in our memories.
But I also remember the words of another teacher—my sixth-grade basketball coach—who planted some positive thoughts in my mind. Funny, I don’t even remember his name, but I’ll never forget how he started each day’s practice. He would walk into the gym and shout, “What’s the good word, guys?”
We would stop our warm-ups and roar back in unison, “State champs 1966!”
Remember that we were only 12 years old. But he already had us looking forward 6 years down the road when we’d be seniors in high school, trying to win a state basketball championship. Even during breaks between drills, when we stopped for a breather and waited for his next instructions, he’d ask, “What’s the good word, guys?”
“State champs 1966!”
I wish I could report that we won the state title in 1966. Unfortunately, we lost in the first round. But we did become much better players than anyone thought we would—all because of a sixth-grade coach who had a vision and who planted a goal in the minds of young basketball hopefuls who couldn’t dribble their way out of a wet paper bag.
In the same way, the words you speak to your spouse and children have a deep and lasting effect. Your tongue can be either a verbal ice pick that chips away self-esteem, or a paintbrush that adds splashes of vibrant color to it by your affirmation and encouragement. What’ll it be?
When are the times you’re most likely to say hurtful, damaging things? How could you prevent that? What kinds of words could take their place?
Pray that the Holy Spirit, who lives in you, will be the guardian of your lips and give you the courage to plant encouragement in the hearts of others.