At church on Sunday, my pastor Jim Hatch gathered all the young kids for a children’s sermon. He asked them this: “How many of you have heard ‘sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you?’”
He went on to describe that it wasn’t really true. He reminded them that spoken words were very powerful indeed. He encouraged them to think twice about what they said and how they said it. He urged them to be a force for encouraging words.
At least, that’s what I think he said. I was on a bit of a mind trip while that was going on. First, I realized that I had been taught that phrase at an early age and accepted it as “truth.” But, as soon as he asked the question Sunday, I knew it wasn’t so.
Obviously, I am a guy who believes in the power of words both spoken and written. I wouldn’t take the time to write these messages every day if I wasn’t confident of it.
In my mind, encouragement is one of the very best ways that words can be used. I know that my life is better because of affirmations I have received. “You have talents.” “You are good with people.” “You can do this.” “I don’t think you recognize how good you are.” “Keep on trying.”
But, I also was reminded about a learning I received from Dr. Henry Cloud recently. He was talking about the importance of being constructive at the right time. He was acknowledging that constructive words can “sting.”
“There is a difference between harmful and hurting,” he describes. “When you go to a dentist and get an infected tooth pulled out, it hurts, right? But, after it is pulled the healing begins. Healing and hurting can be happening at the same time.”
Sometimes we hold back on the constructive words because we think they can hurt. That would be true. But, be wise enough to discern when hurt can lead to healing. Be courageous and caring enough to address the tough issues.