“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 it.”
– Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Words are powerful! Words can build up and they can also tear down. As coaches, the words we use to communicate with others reveal a great deal about our character. Steve Alford, head basketball coach at the University of Nevada, played for the legendary Bobby Knight at Indiana University. He had this to say about Knight’s style of coaching which included abusive language. “The worst part was the profanity. I knew the words, but had never heard them in such abundance and with so much fury behind them. It was like a punch in the stomach.” On the other end of the spectrum is John Wooden, undeniably one of the most loved and respected coaches of all time. While fans talk about his championships, former players talk about his love. Jamaal Wilkes says, “What he taught us transcended basketball and related to life. It stuck with all of us. The things he said were simple, yet profound.”
We decide the type of words we will use! The words we use and allow others to use will become part of the culture we create for our team and our program. Bobby Knight’s players could only guess when the next tirade would take place. That had to create a great deal of tension and anxiety both on the court and in the locker room. Our tongues can be like swords, slashing away at others, cutting and causing great pain. We do not honor God when we use profanity, brag and talk without thinking first. I believe John Wooden tried his best to live Ephesians 4:29. As a Christian he knew that his words should build up (edify); be suitable for the occasion (appropriate); and give grace (gracious). If our words are not encouraging and lifting others up, some changes need to be made. Ask God for forgiveness and commit to using words that are pleasant, healing and soaked with love. You will like the difference and others will too.
Heavenly Father, teach me the power of my words and thoughts. May they always be pleasing to You and honor You in every way. In Jesus name, Amen.