Athlete, You Need a New Mouth


Athlete, You Need a New Mouth

Phillip Kelley

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Mrs. Cram was my second grade teacher. She said something to me that forever changed the trajectory of my life. It was a pivotal time in my life. My mom had just divorced my abusive and alcoholic father. We had moved, and we were starting over. I was the “man” of the house with two older sisters. I was seven.

One fall morning, Mrs. Cram dismissed all of the other students to recess and pulled me back. She knelt down, looked in my eyes and said, “Phillip, you are a natural leader! You’re going to do great things in this world!” That one-way conversation lasted less than 15 seconds. But the ripple effect impacts me to this day.

Conversely, prior to my parent’s divorce, I remember calling my older sister a “f*ing bit**!” No lie. At seven.

When my mom found out, she grabbed me by the shoulders and in tears said, “Why would you call your sister that awful name?”

My only response was an honest one. “That’s what Daddy calls you, Mom.”

My mom dropped to her knees and bawled.

Two vivid memories. Two dramatically different outcomes.

Athlete, your words are extraordinarily powerful. They can be used to build up or tear down. They can encourage or discourage. You’ll never know how your words can impact someone else’s life.

Choose today to speak life and not death. Make it a point that people smile when you are walking toward them and never when you are walking away from them.

The apostle Paul says emphatically, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

As we conclude this five-part series on our need for a new heart, mind, eyes, ears and mouth, let me ask you some questions.

Whom can you encourage today? Whom can you comfort today? Who can receive the blessing of your words today?

You never know; one 15-second word of encouragement that you give to someone today might be the thing that alters the course of his or her life forever!

Speak life.


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