The older I get the more I remember things from "way back when." This morning I woke with the old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." I did a search and found this reference:
The earliest citation of it that I can find is from an American periodical with a largely black audience, "The Christian Recorder", March 1862:
Remember the old adage, 'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me.' True courage consists in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of our companions.
While this is a powerful adage, it really isn't true, is it? Well, at least the beginning isn't true. We know that words have power and that words can hurt us deeply and for years after they have been spoken.
Pastors, as should all Christians, need to measure their words and consider the impact these words might have on another. We are called to be bearers of the Word, and therefore what comes from lips and our heart should be words that lift up the Word as well as build up the body of Christ.
Yes, there are times that tough words are required and to not speak them would be wrong and would worsen the situation. Still, how we speak those words makes all the difference in the understanding. Sometimes not speaking the words and letting silence speak is the wise response. It is difficult at times to know which is best.
I have always tried to choose that which I believe builds up the body of Christ and would honor Him. Oh, believe me, I have spoken before and wished to heaven to have those words back immediately, and at other times (few though they be) I have said the perfect thing and got the point across.
I must confess lots of praying occurs very quickly before I speak most days. I know the power of words and that they can hurt for I've been hurt and have hurt. I believe the power of the old adage is what we have dropped off of it. "True courage (speaking the truth in love / or being silent in love) consist in doing what is right, despite the jeers and sneers of companions." How we respond to the words makes a huge difference in how we allow these words to work on our heart and soul.
I pray courage for you as you preach the Word and speak the word of love to others. I pray when the word is harsh against you that your remember whose Word carries more weight. I pray for your strength in tough days and the power to keep your eyes on Jesus the author and pioneer of our faith.
Thinking, praying and then maybe speaking,