When working with inmates, I’d occasionally ask what profession they’d like to practice if they weren’t into criminal activity. Here’s the top three: Lawyers, Police Officers and Preachers! Do you notice anything unusual about those choices? They’re all positions of power and use speech to affect or influence people.
A few weeks ago, I heard a preacher talk about what he’d say to people who’d like to be professional or lay counselors. Now that’s getting a little close, but here’s what he said. “Before anyone considers being a counselor, they have to ask themselves whether they want to control people or not.” Ouch, but the guy was right!
Hey, whether it’s about criminals working in a responsible world or about anyone being in the counseling community, a couple of things are for certain. Do a gut-check on motives for being in those professions and use the tongue for healing, instead of indulging in speech for personal power trips.
In James’ letter to believers, he has already addressed the use of the tongue 4 times (1:19, 26; 2:12, 16). He mentioned we should be swift to hear and slow to speak and that our religion is vain, if we’re not disciplining the tongue. Now, he writes concerning would-be teachers who’ll have high visibility roles in the church and expounds on the subject of what a healthy tongue or speech looks like.
I am reminded of what a preacher said of another young man who had just started out in the ministry. When someone pointed out his prideful attitude, the preacher said of the young man, “Yes, he thinks he is the fourth person of the Trinity.” There are times when I study the Bible that my ignorance is revealed more than my knowledge of it. I’ve got a long way to go but I don’t ever want anyone to imply that I think I’m the fourth person of the Trinity.
So, I’m starting out the new-year with one of the most important discussions I think we can look at, and it’s about diagnosing tongue disorders. Look where James starts with this.
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1 NIV
It’s so easy for a preacher or teacher to become proud (High Profile Positions). Within the text, James’ reference is to would-be teachers, but what he has to say about speech is for every believer.
Truthfully, I don’t know of anything as powerful as the tongue. In the Bible, God marks this as a premium issue and in fact, “bugs” or puts a listening device on our speech. There isn’t a word that doesn’t go unrecorded nor that He’s unaware of. The right use of speech is very important to God for our modus operandi.
I’m curious, do you have any thoughts about James’ starting out this discussion by focusing on would-be teachers?