Words Matter

Rich Mason (Flickr)

Rich Mason (Flickr)

Did you happen to hear Brett Favre’s induction speech for the Pro Football Hall of Fame? I’m a sports fan so I tuned in for the entire speech. Though, one part stood out to me more than the rest (and, the rest was really good). Brett told a story he says he’s never shared with anyone else, including his wife and mom, until that night. The story involved a conversation he overheard his dad and other coaches involved in one evening while sitting outside the coach’s office.

“I overheard my father talking to three other coaches, and I heard him – and I assume I didn’t play as well the previous week only because of what he said, and he said: I can assure you one thing about my son, he will play better. He will redeem himself. I know my son. He has it in him” (www.packersnews.com, 2016).

He goes on, with a great deal of emotion, to explain what the compliment meant to him coming from a loving but short on praise father. Essentially, as Brett describes it, he spent the rest of his career trying to live up to that one fleeting comment. He played a certain way through college and all those years of Pro Football, as he says, “trying to redeem himself.” What a powerful admission. To think something his father said would have influenced him so deeply and stuck with him for so long is remarkable. Or, is it?

Hearing this made me think deeply about the power of our words. In fact, I spent several hours (which I should have been sleeping that night), thinking of words, phrases, and moments in time, where statements made by those important to me may have impacted me as much. We’ve all heard and remember certain scripture regarding the power of words. A few I recall quickly are, “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person” (Matthew 15:18, ESV). And, “the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do” (James 3:5, TLB).

However, I challenge you to spend some quiet time and think back to a situation like the one described by Brett above. We have all experienced this at some point. Perhaps it didn’t stick so deeply that it drove us for years to come, but it’s happened for sure. What was said to you, or about you, that changed you? Who was the person that had such incredible influence in your life that it stuck?

As for one experience of my own, I had just returned home from Florida State baseball camp as a high school freshman. Since I was gone for a week I parked my truck across the street at my grandfather’s house. While I was away he went to move my truck and found something under the driver seat that should never had been there. I’ll never forget what happened next. My grandfather was not one to verbally say, “I love you.” However, he didn’t have to. There was never a question, ever, of how much my grandfather cared for me. But, that day, he placed his arm around my neck and said, “I found what was under your seat and I threw it away. I can’t believe you would have that….it’s disappointing. But, I love you and you’re better than that.”
Those words, coming from that man, hit home hard. I felt terrible and embarrassed. I never forgot the interaction as I grew older and made other decisions. It wasn’t that I made the right decisions in every future case, just that those words, and his face, were in front of me each time.

Words are powerful, especially from those who have great influence over you. What can you recall?

Call to Action:

1. Spend some time and reflect on your past. Was there someone who made comments, or a statement, that has influenced your decisions over the years? Who was it and what did they say?
2. Post back so others can share and learn from your experience.

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