Ok, so I have a self-diagnosed condition that I like to call “oral dyslexia.” I find that often I am literally without a filter. It’s like that e card that people posted on Facebook awhile back that said something like, “I don’t like to think before I speak b/c I want to be just as surprised as everyone else at what comes out.” Welcome to my life. In most cases this kind of thing would be awesome; it makes you seem witty or clever…the fun one to listen to…but in my profession that is the furthest from the truth.
I’m a Minister. I talk for a living. I use words. I use the most important words ever spoken – The Bible. The Word of God. A filter then, would be pretty handy, I would think. However, just to show that God has a sense of humor…here I am! Now, because I have this new condition called “oral dyslexia” I usually write my entire sermon out word for word – usually because if NOT…horrible, heinous things happen…mixing up words, getting this backwards, completely taking the English language back like five hundred years. So i rely heavily on God’s provision to help me stick to the notes…but sometimes I kind of pull the training wheels off mid-teaching…and I get the bright idea to elaborate and then I ad-lib. Sometimes what comes out is nonsense…sometimes its a joke that I am the only one laughing at out of 300 people…but other times…it comes out as something that makes me say, “Did I really mean to say that?”
Now this goes way beyond the funny realm here. As a guy called to be the mouthpiece of the Almighty (and I don’t say that in a pompous, arrogant, or self-righteous way, but rather out of sheer terror) I am often forced to say things that will hurt. It’s like the movie “Liar, Liar” where Jim Carrey’s character tries every which way to get around actually telling the truth, but no matter what…it comes out…and it’s raw. It’s something that comes out of me that does not originate in my mind. It’s one of those things where you’re two or three steps ahead in your mind of where you’re going next and you get the initial thought and almost stop mid-talk and say, “Do you really want me to say that? I mean really?” And so you try and strategize around it, you try and sugar-coat whatever is about to come screaming out of your mouth…and then comes the moment. You throw it out there…and there it is. It’s like the leg lamp from A Christmas Story – everybody is starting at it in a mixture of awe and nausea. But its out now…and it can’t go back.
These are what preachers often call “stepping on the toes” of people, but a lot of times…mine goes off to more like snapping somebody’s femur. And so as I was teaching Bible class last night I had one of those moments. I said something and immediately winced. I knew the magnitude of what I just said and that there were listeners who wouldn’t be too happy (in fact I got several cold stares)…but I continued.
However, on the way home I kept trying to convince myself that I shouldn’t have said it…I should have been “softer” or less “thunder-punchy.” And so I was talking to God and just asking, “God did I insert that there or was that you? Because it didn’t seem like anyone else was willing to stand up on that?” I wrestled with it all the way home and asked God to give me some kind of confirmation that I should chill or repent. As I pulled in the garage the song I had been listening to (without listening to it) came through loud and clear and it said, “When nobody stands, stand on your own.” That was God’s answer. I stood on Him and I can stand firm knowing that I truly meant to say that.
A lot of times words get thrown around like confetti…we say things and don’t realize that once its out there it cannot ever be taken back (like those awkward college photos you shared on Myspace or Xanga). However, that should embolden us and at the same time frighten us. Words have the power to change things – that’s why God reveals Himself as the LOGOS. That’s why he “Spoke” the universe into existence. That’s why he “commanded” and “thus saith’ed” and used poetry, satire, and historical documentation to unveil His story. Words are powerful.
So if you are like me, you don’t have a filter, and you have to say something very, very, very difficult, know this: If it is the truth, it will stand. If your words are God’s words, than you will build up people, tear down lies, and move mountains. Don’t be afraid to speak. Speak life. Speak love. Speak freedom. Speak often. Say what you mean because nine times out of ten, you really mean what you really said. Use your words.