Core scripture: “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4)
Message: I was teaching writing with voice last week. To prove the point that every kid’s voice was unique, I had them stand in a circle and face the outside wall, closing their eyes. One by one, I began tapping mystery students on the shoulder to come to the middle of the room and talk. The objective was to get people to recognize you.
One of my class clowns who loves to talk was begging me to let him get in the middle. I had the perfect tease to toss back at him, so I lightheartedly quipped back to him.
“You want to hear your voice? I am pretty sure the rest of the class hears your voice a LOT!”
I expected laughter from the class. What I got instead was a loud, “OOOOHHHH!” and quite a few chuckles.
“He roasted you!” one kid chortled.
I looked at my class clown. His head dropped. A shy smile was on his face, but you could tell he didn’t care to be called out in front of his friends. I had to pick up the pieces.
“I’m sorry, man. I was just trying to tease you a little. I shouldn’t have said that.”
But the damage was done. Not my finest moment. Nonetheless, I took that as a lesson learned and moved on. It was the only thing I could do.
Fast forward to yesterday. Different class. Different kid. This one was trying to perform for his friends. He was calling me “cuz” and saying “my bad” a lot. Way too informal for a teacher and student relationship. I tried a different tactic and crouched next to him so only he could hear me.
I redirected him quietly yet sternly. I let him know that the way he was speaking to me sounded disrespectful and that I wanted to get started on a more positive note. I finished by saying I believed in him and wanted what was best for him.
This was a totally different reaction than before. He complied with me, and he didn’t get embarrassed in front of his homies.
When I take a step back to reflect on this, I know the Lord is telling me to be more careful with my words. Sure, there can be friendly banter back and forth, but the moment a comment is taken the wrong way, a relationship is hurt.
Proverbs 26:18-19 says, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” We have to remember that sarcasm can be a deadly poison if it is not taken the right way. Lesson learned.
Be conscious of your words as you build relationships with your students. One on one private conversations tend to have more impact than calling out students in front of the entire class. It is always better to err on the safe side than to have to humble yourself and backtrack to make amends.
Challenge: Be careful with your words this week. Choose to reflect on any of the scriptures below and put them to memory.
- “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
- “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21)
- “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)
Prayer points: Lift up the following areas to the Lord …
- Pray that your words would reflect Christ this week.
- Pray that you can find the right moments to tease and the right moments to be serious.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me when my words get the best of me. Help me choose them carefully and to use them for thanksgiving and encouragement. Amen.