J. B. Phillips once said, “If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.” The right words placed strategically in the right place can have profound and long lasting influence. The wrong words, placed haphazardly in the wrong place… well, you know the end of that story. It is uncertain who wrote these words, but they are very true. “Be careful of the words you say, Keep them short and sweet. You never know, from day to day, which ones you’ll have to eat.”
Recently when I just happen to have a Saturday at home with my family, it is a rare occasion. Add to that rarity, an Ohio State men’s basketball on TV… even better! I can’t quite remember the score, though I’m sure we were winning, but I can remember that there was a bad defensive play on our part and I shouted at the large screen TV on the wall. I had been animated throughout the first half, so beginning the second half of the game it was no surprise that raised decibels moved briskly throughout the living room. What was a surprise was the response of my Grandson Spencer to a critique I leveled at a Buckeye Guard who foolishly fouled an opposing player. I believe I said something to the effect, “Boy that was a stupid move!”
I didn’t catch it at first, but Spencer immediately and quickly approached his mommy saying, “Mommy, Papaw said Stupid!” Stephanie quickly responded by telling my little buddy to raise papaws level of awareness, to which he did. With all the dignity and confidence of an NCAA referee Spencer strode to the edge of my leather recliner and with hands outstretched for effect loudly proclaimed… “Papaw, we never say stupid!” Well, he’s right! That is a word that I would not want to hear from him and though I was referring to the play and not the player, I should have chosen another word. Word’s do have meaning you know.
I will only have a short few years to shape this little guys worldview. He is blessed with the best parents in the world and a wonderful church, however there are forces constantly at work with their main goal being the shaping of America’s young minds. You see, I want this precious little boy and his sweet sister to have a Biblical Worldview. For that to happen in the life of every little boy and girl in America, it will take the concerted and committed effort of every parent, guardian and church in America.
You may ask, why does your worldview matter? Your worldview is the intellectual, emotional and spiritual filter through which you see and respond to the world. It’s how you make sense of the world. According to my friend George Barna, it matters because you do what you believe! Therefore, embracing a biblical worldview is your best attempt to think like Jesus so that you can act like Jesus.
According to George, an Americans’ worldview develops between 15-18 months and 13 years of age. So, by age 13 you develop lifelong characteristics: moral foundations, theological foundations, faith commitments and priorities and habits. Hold on to your hat here… he then states, with a few exceptions and modifications… you will die believing what you believed at age 13. Understanding that you cannot give what you do not have, consider this challenge. Only 5% of the parents of children 5-13 years of age in the United States has a Biblical Worldview!
Charles Colson writes in his book, How Shall We Live, “We must begin by understanding what it means to live by Christian worldview principles in our own behavior and choices. Unless we do, we will interpret the biblical commands according to the spirit of the age and will therefore be conformed to the world rather than to God’s Word” Christ followers have an amazing opportunity in an amazing time to have lasting influence.
Words that are measured and geared to convey only what was important have lasting impact. Joshua’s words for example… “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
It was Blaise Pascal who aptly said, “Words differently arranged have a different meaning, and meanings differently arranged have different effects.” I desire to speak and bless those I have the stewardship to influence with words of life, wisdom and meaning. I want the words I say to match the life I live. May we all remember that the fruit of our lives grows on the trees of others. So, with that in mind, our words must be words of wisdom.
Tim Throckmorton is the Midwest Regional Director for Church Ministries 740-935-1406