For some time now I have been bothered by the current state of communication among spiritual leaders. But I would actually expand that concern to the leadership climate in general-because every leader is responsible for what he or she says.
In particular, I am concerned with the use of vulgarities and profanities in Christian communication. On a daily basis I can find blog posts that throw obscene language around like its no big deal. I regularly hear Christian speakers use off color language to spice up their messages. I am even surprised by the careless words used in casual conversation. Often I hear the refrain that this is for the sake of relevancy. I hear its generational and I shouldn’t let it bother me. Or I hear its cultural and these words just don’t carry the same sense of offense they once did–it’s natural to communicate this way.
I’m not buying any of it.
It has nothing to do with being relevant, nor generational, nor cultural. My sense is that it has everything to do with the communicator and their perceived need to provoke, appear hip, or demonstrate power and authority over someone. I have never encountered someone inside the faith or outside the faith who could not endure my lack of foul language. Ever.
Words reflect the heart. A biblical understanding of heart goes beyond emotions. Our heart is our governing center. It is that part of us that chooses every day. It is core to who we are and how we relate to the world. It is the seat of worship. That which we worship shall be revealed by what readily flows from our lips.
The writer of Proverbs extolls virtue by personifying God’s wisdom. In chapter 4:20-24, the writer highlights the value we are to place on words.
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ears to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.
Paul, in the epistle to the Ephesians, amplifies how a true Christ follower is to live. When it comes to our speech he is clear.
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. (Eph. 4:29)
Paul also warns us against false speech, angry words, and slander. They are damaging inside the body and outside the body. They have no place within the Christian context. I think some of our language issues arise from a low view of the Word of God. When THE WORD no longer matters or stands over us, then our puny words become trite, tawdry, and offensive. The written and spoken word should be carefully considered and weighed. We must remain attractively different from culture. We will gain our hearing through our compassion, which needs no help from profanity or vulgarity.
Leadership is influence. The currency of leadership is our communication. Therefore, words have impact and words matter. Let us escape our idolatry and bring grace to all who will listen.
What are your thoughts?