You see, if we’re not really careful, we’re all Yankees fans. The humorous clip below is from the Jimmy Fallon show. I’ll warn my readers that there are some beeped out profanities on this clip. While I am not approving the language used, no video could better illustrate my point. Watch how quickly a person’s speech changes when confronted with a real person.
The video is both funny and pointed. What we see played out on the street in New York happens countless times every day online as we post and send emails and texts to each other. What we would never say to each other face to face we type without as much as pausing to consider our words. Why? Because screens reduce all of us to cardboard cutouts, they remove our humanity. But as soon as we are face to face, something deep in our souls reminds us that each of us carry the image of God - something to be treasured and respected.
Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. Proverbs 11:11
The power of words is obvious in this verse. And I believe the city the writer was referring to works as a fine example for our school community.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
James reminds us that our words are at the heart of our faith, something we need to take seriously.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24
Our words don’t have to be destructive, in fact they can bring health.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,
slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
In this way, we model the loving communication of our Heavenly father (see Psalm 103:8)
For the BCS community, this is a missional issue. Here’s our mission statement again: Berks Christian School partners with families to create a community of learning that educates the whole student and cultivates Christ-centered lives. Family partnership and a community of learning create the foundation that all of our teaching and discipling is built. Healthy words build up and grow this foundation, unhealthy words tear it down. How we use our words with each other plays a central part in the success of our mission.
So Berks Christian Community, can I encourage us to enter into an agreement? For the sake of our students, and for the Glory of our Father, let’s work towards healthy words with each other both in type and speech. Let’s agree to always acknowledge the image of God in each other every time we communicate. Let’s agree to have the hard conversations face to face (or at least voice to voice) rather than screen to screen. Let’s agree to pause and be slow to respond in anger or frustration, and quick to listen to each other - especially when we are typing.
I have to admit, this is a hard thing to do. I have many times sent an email out of anger, even to some of you reading this. For that I ask for forgiveness and grace. I have sent words of complaining to a colleague or forwarded a communication that should really be qualified as gossip. So when I am asking to agree not to type our complaints, our gossip, or anger or frustration, I am the first that will need to work hard on this commitment.
To further illustrate, we need to consider in what contexts typed communication (especially email) functions best.
Goals in which email is a good tool to utilize:
- communicating announcements and reminders
- sharing a quick thought or resource
- straight forward Q & A
Goals in which email is a poor tool to utilize:
- building trust and relationships
- fostering healthy and graceful communication in a community
- hearing someone’s tone or non-verbal communication
- sharing your heart
- resolving conflict
Next time I have the urge to post a facebook rant, a youtube comment, a snappy text, or an angry email, I’m going to first stop, pray and wait. Then I’m going to set up a time to meet or talk to that person directly. Will you join me?
Next post, I’m going to explore two more implications of this concept: how it affects what we teach our kids and how it contributes to bullying.
Grace and Peace to you and friends! (thanks for hanging with me on the really long post)
I look forward to continuing to build our community face to face.
And now here are some of my recommendations for new reading and viewing.
(see more recommendations for teachers, parents, and students on my rec reading pages.)
Here are three new recommendations:
- Generous Justice by Tim Keller. This is an incredibly challenging book to all Christians to explore the complex interplay of grace and justice in the life of a believer and in the world. Your life will be challenged by this book.
- The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. Kate DiCamillo is one of the world’s most recognized children’s lit writers. This is one of her most famous, and a worthwhile story to enjoy with your children.
- Ravi Zacharias Video - Ravi at Princeton. Ravi Zacharias is one of the best living apologists for the Christian faith. His lecture (in two parts) at Princeton will challenge your thinking and encourage your faith. Very much worth the time.
- part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6aDoOzYN-U&noredirect=1
- part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8XSa79sU0M
- Ravi’s organization: http://www.rzim.org/