Over the many years I have played and coached sports, it's become clearer and clearer that coaches have an amazing opportunity and access to make, break, encourage, etc. the trajectory and course of their players' lives.
I've played for countless coaches, having played sports basically my entire life. Some of them encouraged me and made me feel invincible. Some of them broke me to the core of my being, at least that's what it felt like. Some of them told me I wouldn't make it, that I would never be good enough.
The words, "You won't survive the next level," rang in my ears for many years. They had the power to motivate me, as I worked to prove that coach wrong, and the power to cripple me, as I came into agreement with them.
Well where does all of this power come from? There's an old saying that says "Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Well I call that a flat out lie. Words matter. There's life and death in the power of the tongue [Proverbs 18:21]. Like I mentioned earlier, the words, "You won't survive at the next level," are what stuck with, motivated, and crippled me. It wasn't whether or not I got enough playing time, but what was spoken.
Think about what people have spoken over you in your life and how that has shaped and impacted what you've done or how you've thought about yourself or others around you. Have they influenced you?
Go with me on this... Wars don't just happen, right? They are declared.
Declare [v.] - say something in a solemn and emphatic manner.
You could say that's extreme but holocausts don't just happen. Slavery doesn't just happen. Divorce. Bad reputations. And so on. All of these things don't just magically happen one day. There are ideas planted by statements made from people voicing or declaring their opinions. With our words we have the power to define perceived worth.
Why do I say all of this?
In our day in age and with everything that's going on in the world, in America, and the social media age, it seems like we could all stand to take a step back and take inventory of the words we're using and what we're saying.
Words seem to find themselves just these images on a page that we can throw around without consequences now that we all have access to our own personal platforms via social media. When we don't have to look at the reaction on people's faces, it gets a lot easier to say whatever we want.
What I mostly want to challenge us with today is these two questions:
- Are we speaking life or are we speaking death?
- Do we know our influence?
We all have influence whether we think we do or not. I pray we take inventory of this influence and commit, to the best of our abilities, to only bring positive influence and speak life in all that we do.