N.E.E.Dful Words

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-7 ESV

“Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 NRSV

I led session three of The Healthy Family series during our mid-week worship gathering last night. We focused on affirmation. I went from that experience to lead a college gathering. We are studying the book of James and last night’s session focused on James 3. I thought about the power of the tongue all day yesterday. It’s something we all need to work on because the tongue is a life and death matter. I want so share a little nugget that I did not share in either gathering last night. Here goes -

R.T. Kendall is an interesting figure. I almost always read his books because they’ll treat you like a Stretch Armstrong toy and I need theological stretching from time to time. They are also filled with some big time pastoral wisdom. His book, Controlling the Tongue: Mastering the What, When, and Why of the Words We Speak, is a good example of both.

Here is an example of his pastoral guidance at work, “There are basically two kinds of people: energizers and drainers. Some people energize me! I love to be around people like that. They have a way of affirming you, dignifying you, making you feel esteemed and important, and leaving you with fresh energy. There are also those who-sadly, even when you see them coming-give you a heavy feeling. You know they will be critical, say something that is negative, point out what is wrong, and leave you drained and in need of a rest!” We can choose the kind of person we are.

Kendall introduced an acronym to Westminster Chapel that I think is very helpful. He asked the congregation to be particular with their words and ask a series of questions when deciding what to say. Here is the acronym.

N – Is it necessary?
E – Does it emancipate?
E – Does it energize?
D – Does it dignify?

Think through these questions. Buy the book. Steal it from me. I think they are useful. Meet someone’s N.E.E.D today!

Kendall, R.T. Controlling the Tongue: Mastering The What, When, and Why Of The Words You Speak. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2007.

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