Monday, July 19, 2010

Turn the ship, cap'n! Turn the ship!

 By Niki Turner

One of the saddest tales of all is that of the Titanic. Why is it so tragic? Because there's every possibility disaster could have been prevented through improved communication between various individuals. We shake our heads over the series of human errors that resulted in such horror, yet every day we make the same kinds of communication errors. We delay taking action because it's inconvenient, because our pride gets in the way, or because we don't believe the messenger.

Think of your life as a ship. Depending on your mood and personality, it might be a Princess Cruise, or a sailing ship of old, or a fancy private yacht. (If the first boat that comes to mind is a leaky rowboat, please seek immediate assistance and/or chocolate.)

Ships are directed by rudders - flat plates attached to the ship which, when angled, deflect the flow of water and turn the ship. The helmsman, or governor, has a tiller or a wheel attached to the rudder that enables him to shift the rudder's position below the water. In our imaginary role play, you are the helmsman, and your tongue is the rudder. (Sorry, you Princess cruise people, you're not going to get to play shuffleboard on the Ledo deck for this exercise.)

Let's check out what James said about the tongue:  
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.
4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.
5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
(James 3:2-8 from New International Version)
Notice there in the fourth verse that it's not the size of the boat or the circumstances the boat is in that make the difference in the boat's direction. It's the rudder, and what the captain does with it. I love the King James version, "whithersoever the governor listeth." Literally, wherever the governor decides to go.

Your tongue can be used to create or to destroy, to bless or to curse. You can line what you say up with God's word and chart a course for joy, peace, love, and the abundant life. Or you can line your words up with your flesh, your circumstances, and the enemy of your soul and drive yourself (and everyone along for the ride with you) right smack into an iceberg.

Are you on course? Do you like the direction your life is headed?

If not, take this week with us of focusing on language - real words, fictional words, spoken words, all kinds of words - and listen, really listen, to what you say. Are the words coming out of your mouth in agreement with the words God says about you? If not, it's time to change course. Don't delay!
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  1. Oh, I LOVE this. Sigh. When I let the Holy Spirit "captain" the boat, there's a peace, even when I sail through rocky waters.

    Nikki, thanks for this reminder at the start of a very busy week!

  2. Good reminder today, Niki! Thank you!

  3. Great post, Niki. I've let my tongue run away with me too often for sure. It's amazing how far off track you can get just be letting it have its way.

  4. The longer the distance to your destination the more important it becomes to make sure your mouth is in order. Sometimes it's those little things that get ya... the "I'm tired" and "I'm irritated" and "I can't." I'm glad we're doing this theme. I need it, too!!!

  5. I've decided to lessen my dependance on adjectifying my frustrated speech with the word "freakin."

  6. Niki, that's the scripture that immediately popped into my head when I thought about this theme as well. Great job and very entertaining.

    So I'm going to be very honest for a moment. I find my problem is that when I keep speaking positive, no one knows when I'm hurting. I'm sure there must be some sort of balance, but I'm still working on finding it.

  7. Sometimes I wish the path from brain to tongue was a little longer.

    Nice post Niki. Maybe, like GroundHog Day the movie, we should just re run this message every day, because I know I need to hear it that often!

  8. My thoughts, as I read this, were on all those sentences I know I'm going to say before I say them... and then I say them anyway. Some are valid. Most don't need to be spoken. And even when I say, "Oh, I didn't mean it" it's a lie because really, I KNOW what I'm going to say before I say it. Not sure I like admitting that, but there ya go.

    Excellent analogy, Niki. Thanks.

  9. @Gina - LOL. I had to stop inserting "flippin'" in my sentences. About the time I told the kids to "get in the flippin' car I got rebuked.

    @Dina - I know exactly what you mean. I (thank God) have people in my life I can "vent" with who listen, have compassion instead of judgment, and then take hold together with me to speak the right words.

    @Deb - Yep. Me too.

    @Anita - I resemble your comment, m'dear. I bet we all do.

  10. It's always kind of an after effect thing--slamming hand to forehead in the classic, "WHAT DID I JUST SAY (DO)?!"

    I usually try to think before I speak, but once in a while, I get into that mood where I am as low as I can be and everything irritates me. Case in point--this week and last week. Ugh. When I get to heaven, I'd really like to give Eve what-for. She really ought not to have enticed Adam to eat that apple. Then, we wouldn't have a thing called HORMONES. LOL.

  11. Niki and All,
    Happy Monday!
    I returned to my day job today after an 8 week summer break. When I walked in the door of the college I thought, "Hope communication is good this semester." I'm sure you've all experienced work and or church situations where communication gets lost through a number of different people. It happens all the time and I'm guilty of it too. Sometimes, I think it would be nice if folks just left their computers and went to visit each other in the office.

    I hope to be an excellent communicator this semester. It makes all the difference.

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  13. @Nikole - I've definitely noticed the connection between hormone fluctuations and my mouth running amok! One time I felt led to fast speaking for three days during that week. I had SO much peace! And my kids loved it!

    @Jillian - You're right, dear lady, good communication makes ALL the difference, no matter what the relationship.

  14. LoL, Niki. The question is can I not speak for three days? Now THAT would shock my husband (as well as everyone else).

  15. Nikole - Try having to explain to your in-laws via notepads why you aren't speaking for 3 days! THAT was fun!
    Seriously, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but the results were amazing. When we hold our tongues, we can hold our peace!

  16. Ooooh..... I love James. So convicting. I really needed to hear that this morning. What a great thought to start my day with. Thanks!

  17. Thanks for stopping by, Bex! I love the book of James, too. Always something in there that'll getcha! Blessings!

  18. @Dina I am so totally there with you.I tend to put on the fake smile and try and do the fake it til you make it thing and then I am ready to expolode when someone asks me how I am? Do you really want to know the answer? Can you handle it? etc. So I am working on the balancing act myself.


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