Lately, I have been in rare form! I used to be very concerned about what I would say and how I would say it because I didn’t want to offend or hurt peoples’ feelings, but over the last couple of months all of that care and concern has gone out of the window! It came to a head this week at work. Monday, I told one of the engineers, “I don’t care if you’re not cold, the kids are; turn the heat on!” Tuesday, I told the programmer, “I am not going to go back and change my attendance. You detained these students; YOU go to the office and have their attendance fixed!” Then Wednesday, I said in a meeting, “The reading workshop should not be run by our English department given that the data shows that whatever you all are doing is not helping our students read better!” Of course one of the English teachers was extremely offended which changed the whole tone of the meeting. After the meeting, another teacher and my principal both had conversations with me about my tactless comment. My defense was, “Well it’s true!” I immediately felt convicted! My mother’s words instantly came back to me saying, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!”
My behavior over the last couple of months has been unacceptable! The more I have thought and prayed over it this week, God has revealed to me JUST HOW destructive my behavior has been. He reminded me of why He had placed me in this building– to be a light in darkness. “Ye are the light of the world…” (Matthew 5:14a KJV) My school is plagued by so many negative things: teen pregnancy, drug use, dysfunctional families, and not to mention our students’ academic struggles. My assignment is not only to teach but also to show God’s love and power to save, heal, and deliver. I had truly lost sight of that. My tactless comments and interactions with my colleagues were doing three things in particular:
1) Causing Hostility – “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
I was creating a hostile environment to the point that every time I got up to present, make an announcement or anything else, eyes rolled, lips smacked and what I was saying was tuned out because of the hostility and resentment I had caused.
2) Stunting improvement – “A brother offended is harder to be won over than a strong city…” (Proverbs 18:19 AMP)
Because I have offended some of my colleagues in the past, they fight against anything that they know has come from me. For example, last year my students got very high scores on the ACT writing test. Many of the kids attributed their success to how I taught them to write essays in history. Our principal implemented that strategy school-wide at the beginning of the year and it has been a non-stop fight. No one has said it is a bad strategy; the only reason has been, “We don’t want to do it like that!” I have inadvertently hurt the students’ by offending some of their other teachers.
3) Hurting my witness – “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35 NIV)
How can I profess to be a Christian and be so tactless and non-compassionate to other peoples’ feelings? God is never like that with me. Even when He is checking me, I know that it comes from a place of love and desire for me to be better. I’m sure the recipients of my comments do not feel the same way, and that I could not go to them and talk about Christ afterwards.
Paul explains how we are to interact with people in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men to that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.” (NIV) I must humble myself and watch how I say things in order to complete the assignment that God has for me.
Everyone always quotes Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (KJV); however, v.20 really impacted me when I sought the Lord about this issue. “From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.” NIV What kind of fruit is my mouth producing? How does it taste? Is it bitter? Is it sour or just plain rotten? What kind of harvest am I expecting in my life and what harvest am I going to get if I continue on the way I have been. In the future, I am definitely going to strive to keep these questions in mind and CHECK MY MOUTH!
Thank You for conviction! I also thank You for allowing me to see who I really am and take steps to change for the better. I pray that You continue to help me to talk to people as You would and temper my words with compassion and love. I ask that You move upon the hearts of those I have offended with my words so that they can forgive me and those relationships can be restored. Lord, please help me to watch my mouth! In Jesus Name’, Amen!
Today I EMPOWER you to show the love of Christ in everything, especially in how you speak to and interact with others. One way to do this is to EVALUATE, EVALUATE, EVALUATE!
- Evaluate the urgency of the comment! Does what you want to say really need to be said? If the answer is no, don’t say it!
- If the answer is yes, evaluate how it can be said in a Godly, tactful way that will actually facilitate a positive response.
- Once you have thought about how you’re going to say it, then evaluate what is the best timing. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom to know when to say it.
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Ms. Katrina Richard is an up and coming professional residing in Chicago, Illinois. She strives to incorporate knowledge and life-skills to teenagers in her profession as a high school history teacher. Katrina is very active in her church community where she serves in the prayer ministry as well as in the nursery. She has a passion for serving in the lesser known areas of ministry because she believes every facet of ministry is important to kingdom building and spiritual development of the believers. Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”