A leader's words are powerful. Once a word is uttered by the “boss,” the pastor, the coach, the teacher, the husband, the parent, or the one in charge, it has been heard. Perhaps, a decision was made, an opinion adjusted, someone's feelings were hurt, or trust was damaged or lost. The word “word” remains a powerful four-letter word.
The last time we visited, we uncovered Proverbs 15:2, “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge (or, makes it acceptable), but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” (NIV) A leader's words are a dead giveaway of their identity.
Deceitful flattery is one way a leader's words can reveal a foolish heart. Flattery is nothing more than insincere compliments expressed with deceitful motives. It's an attempt to control a client, a governing board, an athlete, a church member, a staff person, a supervisor.
Angry words also reveal the heart of a foolish leader. Anger can include everything from mild irritation to uncontrollable fits of rage. What leader has not at some time blurted out angry criticism, unkind words, and false accusations because they “lost it.”
How insightful are Solomon's words in Proverbs 22:24, “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered.” The phrase “hot-tempered man” is literally, “a lord of anger” suggesting a pot of boiling poison. This kind of leader responds to virtually every negative experience with venom because he or she remains angry at virtually everyone and everything. Because anger begets anger, strife follows this leader like a dark cloud.” “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” (Proverbs 29:22)
Anger is a choice that easily becomes a habit” (Chuck Swindoll). One man describes his anger this way: “It is a learned reaction to frustration, in which you behave in ways that you would rather not. In fact, severe anger is a form of insanity. You are insane whenever you are not in control of your behavior. Therefore, when you are angry and out of control you are temporarily insane.” And that can gush forth in unending arguments, verbal striving, profanity, and comments. How wise are the leaders who have learned to control their words by controlling themselves?
“The fastest horse cannot catch a word spoken in anger.” - Chinese Proverb
Fred Campbell, President of Living Grace Ministries, leads a one-day servant leadership workshop for church leaders. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.livinggraceministries.com.