When I was a kid I tried to never miss an episode of “The Simpsons”, I loved Bart Simpson. I had a t-shirt with him on it that said “Underachiever”, my grandmother hated that shirt because she said I was NOT an underachiever! Part of Bart’s underachiever persona was that he seemed to always be packing a sling shot…
I had to have one!
So somehow I convinced my grandparents to let me have a slingshot… looking back I have no clue how that happened. One day I was over at a friends house and we were shooting our slingshots in the back yard. He had these really cool metal balls that were made specifically for sling shots… so we were shooting those, breaking stuff, hitting targets… you know good clean American boy fun. After a while we ran out of those cool metal balls and so we went searching in the house for some new ammunition… all we could find was Tums. We went back out side and started trying to shoot our new acid-fighting ammunition and quickly found that flat discs are not all that accurate with a slingshot… they were flying all over the place but never coming near anything I was aiming at.
Suddenly a bird flew down onto the fence about thirty feet away.
I figured… “No harm in shooting at it… there’s no way in the world I could possibly hit it!”
I figured wrong.
I pull back that slingshot loaded with a stomach-saving remedy and let it fly… It shot off with deadly accuracy and speed… hit that bird square in the side of his head… and he dropped… dead as a door knob. Assassination by antacid.
Now, you can imagine right here a scene right out of a TV sitcom where two kids are standing motionless over a dead bird trying to contemplate the ramifications of what just happened… and what the consequences might be… so we did what any other good upstanding young men would do. Buried the evidence!
I started thinking about that story awhile ago when I was thinking about the power that words can have in people’s lives. For me personally I started realizing the effect that my words have on my wife, my kids, friends, or people that I lead in ministry…
I have grown to firmly believe that the old saying about sticks and stones is an absolute lie… words can devastate, destroy, and damage people. I talk with people all the time that are struggling in life because of words that were spoken to them years, or even decades, ago. They can never seem to get past those labels that were slapped on them… those lies that were placed on them… those feelings that they could never measure up. I still remember vividly being told by a kid named Robbie in kindergarten that my ears looked big when I had a buzz cut… to this day 25 years later if I think about cutting off my hair in the summer, my first thought is… “but… my ears will look big!”
I think this is a lesson that we all need to learn, and I think that in the Church we especially need to learn that even words that were meant for good can be fired off in a dangerous way… like medicine from a slingshot, and end up causing even more damage. People can have all the right intentions as they share their feelings or thoughts on how things should be… but often, they leave a trail of destruction behind them. There is even a book called Well Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. You know if someone wrote a book about it… it’s an issue!
These are lessons that I am still very much learning on a daily basis… I have, what I like to call, the spiritual gift of sarcasm… and unchecked, it can be just like that slingshot… I fire it off, never thinking that its going to come close to doing damage, but sometimes it smacks people right upside the head. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to backtrack and try to make right something I said in jest. I am (hopefully) growing in discernment.
One of the primary calls upon people in the Church is to encourage, exhort, and love on each other… but the truth is that many people feel that they have been far more wounded inside the community than anywhere else. We are people… we fail… we blow it… we say things we shouldn’t… but hopefully what sets us apart will be that we own our mistakes and make them right… that we will come together as the bride of Christ… and that we would learn day by day to be more edifying to one another.
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:23-25, NLT
Great for an upset stomach… or Murdering Birds.