I once heard about a famous celebrity, who was rather egotistical — can't remember his name, only his comment. He talked on and on about himself in glowing terms. He bragged about all of his fan mail. However, he once received an uncomplimentary piece of mail. He said that he had become so obsessed with that one piece of negative mail that he had forgotten about the hundreds of nice letters he had received.
I remember a question that my father asked me when I was younger: "What's a third, and a half of a third, of ten?" I tried in vain to figure it out. After giving up, he said that the correct answer was five. To this day, I still don't get it, but I remember the question.
Years ago at work, my boss made a comment that stayed with me. He said, "There are three important things in life: your family, your church, and your job — in that order."
On another occasion, a fellow employee stated, "When you have a job, it doesn't matter where you went to college, and when you're in college, it doesn't matter where you went to high school." She was one of the company's most-successful sales representatives. She told me about a conversation that she had with the Vice-President of sales. He asked her to explain her phenomenal sales ability to him. He wanted to know if it was a special technique that she used.
She thoughtfully answered back, "I have no technique, I just do it." He told her that she had given the correct answer. In his opinion, any sales representative who had given him a technique wasn't very good, because it didn't come naturally.
Don't ask me why I remember that conversation — or any of the others ones for that matter — it just stuck with me. Our words have amazing staying power!
On a more personal level, I remember certain comments that people have made to me that were quite unexpected. I consider those remarks — especially those that were complimentary and encouraging — to be great blessings.
An elderly man recently called me long distance. He said that he had remembered the family and me from 1970 when he had lived in our area. He gave his name, but I unfortunately had no idea who he was. He mentioned a mutual friend and his recollection of something else unique about me. I was convinced that he did indeed know me, but I was embarrassed that I still didn't recall him. He realized that I probably didn't remember him at all, but he said that was okay. He emphasized that the purpose of his call was two-fold.
First, he wanted me to know that he had regularly been reading the articles that I had written for a certain publication and how much he appreciated my efforts. Of course I was elated that he had taken the time to contact me.
His other reason for calling was to tell me that he had cancer and was dying. He was in the process of telephoning several people to express his personal appreciation to them for touching his life. He was, in essence, calling people to say "goodbye." I barely knew what to say to this man — someone I didn't know and yet had blessed me so deeply with his call. What an impact he had on me. After our conversation, I cried, but in a blessed way. Sometimes blessings come to us quite unexpectedly — right out of the blue!
So what's the point of all of this? Well, that's really pretty simple.
Second, our words can sometimes stick with others for a very long time. Let's not just try to be cautious with our words, let's also be strategic in how we use them to bless others. Let's offer kind words that bring encouragement, comfort, and hope to others.
Of course, God told us these things many years ago through the words of His wise and devoted servants:
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11 NIV).May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14 NIV).