James writes, “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” (James 3:2)
Jesus says, “… for the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45)
I have been pondering these passages of Scripture in light of a couple verbal interchanges I experienced over the last week or so.
Let me explain:
I have been teaching on Sunday mornings at Orchard Hill Church for 15 years. Because of recent retirement and staff changes, I am now one of the senior teachers at our church. I suppose you could even call me a teaching pastor. And don’t forget, I happen to be a woman.
Despite this seniority, I still find people (mainly men) who speak to me in ways that are not meant to be demeaning, but that, in actuality, are demeaning.
One man, on a Sunday morning before I was to teach, approached me and said, “I’ll be in there evaluating you this morning!”
Another man approached me during the week and said - (and I fully believe he hoped this would be complimentary) - “I told our senior leader after your last few teachings …. ‘I think we should keep her!’”
Now listen, I am a joker. I love a little light banter; am unoffended by casual sarcasm. I don’t consider myself overly sensitive. I don't walk around demanding respect or privilege in any way.
But I wonder about these kinds of comments.
I wonder what is underneath them.
I wonder about my own words to others. How careful am I with what I say? Do I ever use my words – intentionally or unintentionally – to “keep people in their place” or to demonstrate power?
And I wonder, in the church, when I feel diminished by words from a brother or a sister, what would be an appropriate response?