Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Power of Blessing

Words don't simply communicate information.  They often go to the deepest part of us, for good or ill.  Use them wisely.

The old saying of sticks and stones breaking bones but words never hurting is a lie.  Of course words hurt, sometimes with longer and deeper ramifications than a physical wound. But they can also bless and edify.  In fact, the Greek word for bless is eulogizo, which when broken down means a good (eu) word (logos).  You don't have to work very hard to see eulogy and eulogize in there.  So there is inherent power in words.

I had a coach in high school who coached me two years.  He was my favorite high school faculty member. This coach was italian in descent, so he had plenty of fire.  But he was also the guy who would laugh along with you.  As a basketball coach, when you screwed up, he would grab you by the jersey and get right up in your face and let you have it while turning the air blue around you.  He'd sling you toward the end of the bench and stare you down.  Then, about 2 minutes later, he'd grab you again and tell you to watch the backdoor cut and be sure and give help on the pick and roll and then swat you on the butt and tell you to go get 'em.  I loved him.  Still do.  In fact, I got to do his daughter's wedding about a year ago.

It was May of 1994 and I was headed out to do ministry on the east coast with Crosspoint, a Christian sports camp sponsored by the Southern Baptist Convention.  It ended up being a tough summer, but that's another story.  My mom and dad threw a send-off party for me, grilling hamburgers, etc. at our house.  As Coach was leaving, I walked him out and he grabbed me as he had so many times before.  I didn't think I had turned the ball over or had been beat by my man, so the familiar feeling was in a strange context.  He looked me in the eyes and said, "If I ever had a son, I sure hope he'd turn out to be like you."

I have never forgotten that.  It was a blessing in the truest sense - a good word spoken that goes into the soul of a young man.  It said to me that I had what it takes, the question every man asks.  It spoke powerfully and has shaped me in many ways, not the least of which is I really don't get nervous in front of crowds when I preach.  And yes, I absolutely think the confidence he inspired in me then and the confidence I have to stand and herald are intimately tied.

Words have power.  They can wound or heal, tear down or build up, reveal foolishness or impart wisdom.  And they often go deeper than we know.  Use them wisely.

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