Proverbs is a biblical book of wisdom that helps a leader live his/her life with skill. When the wise leader faces chaos, instability and immaturity, when they have to respond to fools, scoffers, people with little or no moral values, liars and thieves, the leader can walk through life with beauty and skill. Wisdom is practical, down-to-earth, day-to-day, and realistic. It's the way path to leading and living life well.
We're being challenged by the wisdom of Proverbs 18: 21, “The tongue has the power of life and death. . .” That's a verse you might post in different places where you'll see it throughout the day. Life-giving words can ease someone's burden, motivate, encourage someone on to a goal, or express appreciation. Death-killing words are lethal. Some people carry indelible emotional scars because of a simple, careless comment made by a leader. Some marriages are often characterized by verbal abuse, yelling and screaming, verbal put downs, even profanity.
Proverbs mentions deceitful flattery, gossip, rumors, and words spoken with uncontrollable anger as examples of destructive words. SLANDER is another example. One writer defines slander as “the open, intentional sharing of damaging information where one person shares with another person information about an absent third person.” (Joe Stowell, The Weight of your Words) You wouldn't say these words if the third person were in the room. It's information that damages the person's character or reputation. That's slander.
“Whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18) The verse speaks for itself. How good for a leader to ask, “Am I a fool in what I say?” “Have I been foolish in things that I have said that either are not true or is true, but are malicious and designed to pull down a person's reputation?”
The story is told of a sea captain and the first mate. They were not good friends, but enemies. The first mate was known for occasionally taking a drink while at sea. One night the captain wrote in the ship's log book, “First mate was drunk today.” The first mate said, “Don't say that. If the owners see that I'll lose my position. It only happened once.” The captain responded, “Truth is truth. I had to enter it into the book.” The next day the first mate was in charge and had control of the log book. He wrote, “The captain was sober today.” The captain protested that when the owners see that entry it would say much about him that wasn't true.” The first mate responded, “Truth is truth. I have to write it.” Slander can use truth destructively.
Proverbs 16:27 tell us, “An ungodly man (or leader) digs up evil, and it is on his (or her) lips like a burning fire.” Slander is incendiary; it burns like fire and blazes out of control.
James agrees: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body,” (2:6)