My husband, Joe, and I have been raising pet ducks for many years, and we’ve had our male duck, Larry, for 10 of those years. Every molting season, Larry loses all of his brightly-colored, iridescent feathers, and for a time, he looks woefully scraggly. He hangs his head low, and he not only loses his feathers, but his confidence, boldness, and dignity. The older Larry has gotten, the harder the molting process has been on his health and morale. Seeing our little man so depressed prompted me to ask the Lord what we could do to ease Larry’s pain and discouragement. That’s when the Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance Proverbs 18:21 (NIV): “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Suddenly, I knew exactly what we needed to do. I told my husband that we were going to be very careful about how we spoke around Larry while he was looking so shabby. Instead of saying, “Wow, Larry, you really look ratty!” we were going to say, “What beautiful new feathers you’re getting, Larry!” We replaced all of our negative speech around Larry with compliments and affirmations, and we kept encouraging him and reassuring him. No doubt, Larry could tell by just the inflections in our voices that we were speaking highly of him, instead of commenting on his dreadful appearance.
Larry is almost done with his molting process as I write this, and what a difference our attitudes and words have made this year! His head has not been hanging low, and he has been walking just as proudly as when he has his full, beautifully-colored plumage the rest of the year. This experiment has taught my husband and me a memorable lesson about the power of our words, and we’ve been thinking about the importance of our speech, and how it can profoundly affect others, as well as ourselves.
Imagine the difference you and I could make in the lives of our spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, coworkers, neighbors, and others, if we would simply be more aware of our words, and more considerate with our speech. Who is it that you know who could benefit from your positive speech today?