Living Well

March 16, 2010

Do your words cut like a knife?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 8:54 am
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The adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me” is a lie.  There is a commercial I see occasionally on television.  It never ceases to capture my attention and make my heart race.  The commercial shows only a mouth speaking phrases like, “You’re stupid;” “You’ll never amount to anything;” “I don’t know why I bother with you;” “I wish you were never born….”  Words, careless words do in fact injure and wound people just as sticks and stones do break bones.  The problem is you cannot see the broken “bones” of the spirit caused by this constant battering.  Cher’s pop song, “If I Could Turn Back Time,” blasts a melody that should remind us of our speech when she sings, “Words are like weapons, they wound some times.”  So while the bruises from sticks and stones may heal over a few weeks, careless and harsh words can cause a person to bleed internally for a lifetime.

The way we speak reveals a good deal about us personally.  While we may not talk or comment in the ways seen on the commercial I described, we may do just as much damage if we share in gossip, rumors, or regularly engage in conversations that continue stereotypes of gender, race or ethnicity.  The tone of one’s voice, clothed in sarcasm or mocking is like a weapon….it carries a barb that deeply pierces another person’s soul.

Jesus challenged a crowd that gathered near him by observing, “Out of the same mouth come both blessings and curses.  It should not be so.”  The Proverbs writer also instructs “reckless words pierce like a sword.”  The careless word is like an uncontrolled missile.  Its power is devastating, inflicting pain and suffering on everyone near its point of impact.

Jesus also said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”  What if you were on trial for your life solely on the basis of what you said to or about others?  How would you survive a trial for your life if it was based on your words alone, spoken to those around you or who are in relationship to you?  If we were on trial for our lives by what we said, I believe we would surely think before we open our mouths in hurt, gossip, rumor, or other ways that inflict pain on others. 

Today challenge yourself to think about how you normally respond to those closest to you, like colleagues, neighbors, friends, and loved family members.  Do you support them, encourage them, and give a healing word or are their encounters with you full of venom, sarcasm, and deflecting the weapons of hurtful words?

Blessings for you today…”May the words of your mouth be pleasing….” Grace and peace.

David Neidert


February 21, 2010

What Does Your Name Mean?

Filed under: character,Personal Leadership — dlneidert @ 7:23 pm
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What is in a name?  The ancient Egyptians believed that the name of a person carried their essence, the quality of their personality.  Wisdom literature tells us that names are important.  Choosing names for children still sells thousands of books a year.  Many people carefully determine a child’s name not just on the basis of how it sounds, but what it means or the legacy of someone they want to honor in this new life.

When my wife and I named our children, we were very specific about them.  Our oldest is Sarah, who is princess because she was a gift; a princess to us.  Our son is David Benjamin.  The Benjamin was more my doing than my wife’s decision.  She wanted Jonathan, but I was studying Hebrew at the time…David (the beloved) Benjamin (son of the right hand).  Since we would have two children then…a boy and girl…these were important names for us.  We wanted to name them not just out of the air, but with tags that would travel with them over a lifetime.

Names are important as identifiers, but they also precede us and carry identifying qualities.  Marketers know that brand names are important because most people will buy something without delving into comparative quality simply based on the name and the reputation that goes along with it.  Marketers are banking on that association of name and purchase. 

People of history are also summed up in their names.  Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and others carry their histories in their names.  Rosa Park, Martin Luther King, Jr., Florence Nightingale and JFK (initials only!) carry their histories, too.  We feel something about these names. These identifiers elicit emotion and a reaction just by uttering them.

So, what does your name convey?  What goes along with this identifier that is tagged to you?  The Hebrew word for name refers to our reputation. Our names reveal our reputation.  When people think of you and your name, what goes along with it?  Do their experiences with you bring delight, fond memories, laughter, a sense of character or trustworthiness when they hear your name?   Or does hearing your name cause people to roll their eyes, whisper to others behind cupped hands, or distrust whatever might be said by you?

Proverbs of the Old Testament says, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”  If we carry a good name, people will recall us—even in some distant time when we are no longer alive—with admiration and respect.  But if your name carries all that is unpleasant you will be labeled with distain regardless of what you thought about yourself (and it will last beyond your ability to make any changes to that perception).

“Your reputation precedes you” is a great movie line.  But it is a line that could be spoken every day when people met you.  What do you want to go ahead of you?  What do you want people to believe about you when they hear your name?  You can craft this in how you live every day.  If you want your name to be filled with integrity, character, delight, and a host of other identifiers you can choose to build that reputation by how you act in every encounter.

Silver and gold come and go; we know that in today’s economy.  Wealth is gained, lost, spent, and forgotten over generations.  But your name, your reputation, will be the record in someone’s memory of who you were and what you contributed to life.  What do you want your name to carry with it both now and into the future?  You can choose to create that legacy today; and it is a choice.

Blessings to you as you craft a reputation of joy, encouragement, and living well through the tag of your name.  Grace and peace.

David Neidert

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