The Belittling Tongue (#13)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21

Ah, the tongue is like a hammer – it can be used for demolition or for construction – to destroy, tear down, and pull apart or to build, strengthen and reshape.  How do you use your words usually?  Is it to build and encourage?  Or to destroy and tear down?

Do people feel better about themselves after spending time with you?

There are two main reasons people belittle or denigrate (good word!) others.  First, those who are insecure often feel better about themselves when they have brought someone else down.  The second reason is trickier – those who have high expectations of others often focus on their shortcomings and failures, instead of seeing their value and the things they are doing correctly.

I belong to the second category.  I will be remembered as a mother that had high expectations and did not tolerate failure.  My daughter does many amazing, fantastic, even hard things well.  But I some days I see only her messy room and her negligence of small things, like practicing the piano or being ready to depart on time.  I guess I really do expect her to be perfect.

Today’s challenge for me – and you – is to become an encourager, to act like a cheerleader and coach for our family members, employees, coworkers, and friends.  We need to:

  • Build up others
  • Offer positive affirmation, express appreciation, applaud accomplishments
  • Notice what people do right and praise them for it
  • Express faith in the ability of others
  • Offer more compliments and encouragement than criticism
  • Be empathetic, hold their hand, communicate with love and kindness
  • Not make negative remarks about someone in the presence of others
  • Resist the temptation to constantly “fix” something about them

After all, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.  Right?!

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” Ephesians 4:29

Stop right now.  Think of two people in your life who need more encouragement.  Your husband, kids, coworker?  Who have you been hard on lately?  Take the time this week to appreciate and encourage them.  Have a positive impact on their lives, build them up.

“A wise woman builds her house, a foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” Proverbs 14:1

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues