It will never cease to amaze me how one small word of encouragement can change someone.
I have spent a lot of time this summer at the ballpark. I'd like to say I've been shagging balls, hitting home runs or serving as the chaplain to a major league club. But no, I've been doing something much more important. I've been cheering my kids on.
We recently moved to a new community. In this new community the teams have kid pitch ball. We moved from a place where the kids this age were being pitched to by a machine. This is a new world that's created a lot of angst.
In the last inning of a recent game, my kid's team was down 10-0. A blowout. They were the home team, so they batted last. My child was up to bat. I could see great anxiety on the players' faces.
I went up to the fence -- and this was a powerful moment for me -- and motioned them over. I said, "You can do it. Go out there and swing." I could immediately see the anxiety and fear melting away.
The ball was hit. It wasn't a home run but a mad dash to first where a great play was made. Two outs later the game was over.
This moment humbled with the reminder of how important words are.
The New Testament book James reads, "A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything -- or destroy it!"
What we say and how we say it can be the difference between cheering someone on in faith or turning them cold against anything that has to do with God.
Most of us can look back across our lives and pinpoint a date and time when someone whom we looked up to, someone that we admired, said something to us that completely changed our outlook on who we are, how we understand who God is, and how we live today. Like the rudder, it's those small words that make a huge difference.
God has placed you in the relationships you are in to steer yourself and others to his grace.
Your words matter. Choose them well. God is counting on it.
Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at www.robhurtgen.wordpress.com.