Saturday, May 23, 2009

Being Careful With Our Words

“Fridley High School is a better place because of the energy and attitude of Dakota Warner.” The recommendation that concluded with that sentence strongly affirmed the difference you make where you live and work--Fridley, MN.

Of course I’m proud of it; he’s my grandson! I have coveted him for Christian service since he was an infant. I can get a little misty-eyed when I remember how proudly I lugged him all over the city of Anderson, IN during our annual Church Convention following his birth. He is the grandson I thought I would never have. He and I rocked many a mile in those wooden rockers at Cracker Barrel that year.

I confess it is easy for me to complain about the music of the young, the loud beat, the way they drive their cars through neighborhoods with their sound systems leaving everything not nailed down dancing to the tune of destructive decibels. But, I ask myself, “is the place where I live ‘a better place’ because of my “energy and attitude?”

We are in short supply of civility today. We rush about pell mell, wired, but isolated. We communicate from our isolation, emailing, blogging, texting, twittering, and whatever is newest. The news reported a mother called into court recently for emailing harsh words that allegedly drove a young girl to suicide.

Someone emailed me about “my Christian president,” after I defended him on a controversial issue. The text of the email was polite enough, but the subject line suggested more of a snipe at him than a conversation with me.

Questioning the hateful words of certain bloggers, Dan Wooding, founder of Assist News, wondered “what kind of lives these attackers lead and why they are so hateful in their words, which he described as the ‘Wild Wild West of the Blogosphere.’” Do they, he asked, have any joy in their lives or do their personal attacks make them feel superior to those they go after?

With Wooding, I recognize that not all blogging is negative. On the other hand, I challenge the value of making one‘s living with such acidic penmanship. Online conversations contain so much that is full of poison and vulgarity, making Wooding wonder “what non-Christians make of the so-called Christian blog sites that are often so vicious in their attacks against other believers.”

I don’t like living in a world with terrorists, but neither do I applaud the belittling and derogatory verbal terrorism we see and hear all about us. I have observed “Christian” online communities (listserv’s) simply collapse because of domination, arrogance (insensitivity), and incivility. In this communication age, we do well to think in ways that allow us to act more in keeping with Jesus. He teaches His followers that it is out of our hearts that come the issues of life. On one occasion, He said “as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31,NKJV).

Another time He announced, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34.35, NKJV)

Such teachings caused Paul to conclude, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Whether emailing, blogging, texting, twittering, or just conversing, we do well--especially Christ-followers--to avoid injecting more hateful words than already exist in the vocabulary of this hate-filled world. This is especially true in the political arena, where words become divisive, disagreeable and sometimes daubed with venom.

There is room for disagreement in many arenas, but never let our words to each other bring the words of Jesus into disrepute. Let our communication--thought, word, and deed--express more of what Wooding calls “Love Central” and less of “Hate Central.”

Thank you Kody, for modeling a positive role. Thank you for making a difference in other people’s lives. You exhibit that most essential ingredient in the recipe of good leadership--a quality which we often find ourselves in short supply.
Wayne, from Warner’s World

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