Imagine that it is a couple of weeks leading up to the first day of the semester. As a teacher, I have either been prepping during the summer or during Christmas break to ensure the semester starts on a strong note. I am moving quickly to review lesson plans, brainstorming new ideas to captivate my students, and I am praying that God uses my class to bring my students closer to Him. When the first day finally arrives and my students enter my class, I see fear written out on their faces. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld says it best, “…people would prefer to be the one in the casket at a funeral rather than the one reciting the eulogy at a funeral.” According to Psychology Today, “public speaking has been the number one fear for many Americans with death being the second greatest fear.”
Due to the fear and insecurities that come along with a speech class, students quickly ask me, “Coach Groves, is speech really important?” Wow. After all of the preparation, it always stings to hear that my students do not believe that my course has value. While my students often ask that simple question, it always serves as a great reminder to reflect on why speech is important.
I immediately start to ponder two points that are highlighted in the book of James.
Our words can bless or curse
“…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
Speaking should never be taken lightly because blessing or cursing comes with eternal and impacting consequences that we cannot escape or ignore. When I encourage students to speak in front of their peers, I desire for them to know they should be concerned with what they say inside and outside of the classroom. Keep it simple, are you cursing someone or blessing someone with your words? Through the power of the Spirit, let’s choose to bless others!
Listening is vital
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak…”
We live in a time where everyone has a platform to speak, but we do not promote the power of listening. Whether it is matters of race, politics, or even theology we often lack the excitement to listen to others. Listening is not only necessary for effective communication, it can help humble us as we engage with others. Are you listening to comprehend others or are you simply “listening” in order to respond? Through the power of the Spirit, let’s choose to listen for comprehension!
So, when this semester ends and a new one begins, I am actually looking forward to hearing the famous question that I will probably hear until I retire. The next time I hear, “Coach Groves, is speech really important?” I will pause, smile, and say with great certainty “Yes, speech is very important.”