No. 13


My good friend, the late Doyle Burke from Newport, Arkansas, always had several funny stories to share with me each time I saw him, but some time back I saw him when he was almost speechless. It was at the Convention Center in Little Rock on the day he received a plaque to mark his retirement from the education profession. He was asked to say a few words before 600 of his peers. He simply stated, "it's better to remain silent and have people assume you are a fool than to speak and no longer have them assume it."

The ability to speak is a wonderful gift that God has given us and for those who can develop it to a high degree of proficiency, it can bring all sorts of rewards. If I were to ask you to state in one word the most powerful part of the human body as it relates to speaking and communication, what would be your answer? If you said the little six letter word, called a T-O-N-G-U-E, you would be right.

The reason I believe this is true is because I've seen the tongue lift the spirits and motivate a 260 pound man to action, and I've also seen the tongue slash another person to shreds. Yes, the tongue is a very powerful thing and learning to control it is a goal worthy for any person. The tongue is like a two-edged sword: one side is good and the other side is bad. It's how we choose to use it that makes the difference. It's only when we learn to control our tongue and use it for good that we can rightfully expect good things to happen in our lives. In my own experience I have found many people have Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personalities in respect to their tongues.

When they're in public or "on stage", so to speak, they use their tongues one way, but when they are "off stage" you would never know they were the same people. The Bible says in Matthew 15:18, "But those things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart and they defile the man." So there you have it -- it's really the heart of a man or woman that determines the kind of speech that comes out of his or her mouth. The tongue, on the other hand, is just a protrusile, freely moving organ that in human beings serves as an organ of taste and speech. I believe if you will give this some serious thought, you will see that it is not the smart or intelligent people or even those who are gifted with unusual skills, that learn to control their tongues wisely. It's the people whose hearts are right who exercise self-control and learn to speak only those things which serve to build lasting relationships.
If you have a problem controlling your tongue and you want to do something about it, a good place to start is to examine your heart. When you get your heart right with God and with others, it will be easier to control your tongue. I always admire the soft spoken, gentle person who speaks the truth and is always positive when talking about others. There just seems to be an inner strength that says it's not necessary to tear others down to build themselves up.

Until next time, when it comes to our tongue and the words it produces, here is something to keep in mind; automobiles run and airplanes fly, but human beings literally talk themselves forward. A medicore idea well expressed is often more effective than a better idea poorly expressed. Words are the most powerful success tools available to human beings. As I said in the beginning, it's all a matter of how we use that thing we call a T-O-N-G-U-E. (EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034.)