While vacationing with members of my extended family we took turns expressing what we most appreciated about one another. This is not as easy as it sounds because emotions can sometimes make choosing the right words and the delivery of them a bit difficult. Nevertheless, over the course of three consecutive lunches together we huddled around a table choosing words that would affirm a trait, a behavior, a positive change, an act of service, or an accomplishment that we saw, felt, or appreciated in one another. And those words hit their mark stirring our souls and making our hearts glad. Words are containers; containers hold things.
Yes, timely, well placed words have a way of unlocking doors and stepping into rooms of the heart that have been vacated through years of neglect. Timely, well placed words are inviting, inspiring, motivating, and fill us with life."A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver." Proverbs 25:11
We enjoy sitting down with these kinds of words, chewing on them, digesting them and savoring their aftertaste. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
The Bible mentions the word “tongue” 129 times, the word “words” over 500 times, the word “lips” over 100 times and the word “mouth” over 400 times. Had a former football coach of mine once say that if you could control your tongue you could control the rest of your body. Another former coach of mine once told me to shut my mouth because he was tired of hearing what was coming out of it when it came to making excuses for not performing as instructed. And he was right in doing so.
“Catch ‘em when they’re good” is a saying used in education circles intended to affirm good behavior in others when it is seen. All it takes is a second or two using a word or two. I can still feel the effect of Dad’s words on me as a boy when he said, “good job son”, “I’m proud of you, my son.” I felt those words warm their way up my spine making me feel tall, respected, love, and appreciated. How few parents and partners and supervisors and managers and CEO’s and others in leadership roles today put into play, “catch ‘em when they’re good.” Words are containers; containers hold things.
Perhaps its time for a crucial conversation about the words we use in our conversations with others. And the essential question is this: what kind of aftertaste do they leave?