In Liverpool, England, on the eve of the 2006 Open Championship (which folks in the States call “The British Open”), professional golfer Graeme McDowell knew his game was in trouble, and that he was going into the tournament clueless about what was causing his struggles on the course. While out for the evening, McDowell got a surprise. A stranger, who was an avid golf fan, recognized McDowell and commented that he had noticed a flaw in Graeme’s swing. The next day, Graeme tested that advice on the driving range, and to his great shock discovered that the anonymous helper had been correct. Satisfied with the value of the change, McDowell implemented the suggestion and finished day one of the British Open in first place! All because a stranger took time to speak a word of help.
Words are like that. They are powerful instruments for good or for ill and demand that we use them carefully. We can use words in destructive ways, or we can use words to build and encourage. This must be what Solomon had in mind when he said, “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23 NASB). In a world where words are often wielded as weapons, we can learn to use our words as tools to build the hearts and lives of others.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain