James: In Speech (The Power of Words)
“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark”
I almost failed Grade 5. I couldn’t seem to focus or concentrate—math in particular was very hard for me. Part of my struggle in school was that I was small for my age and the bigger kids frequently picked me on. This led to self-esteem issues and a total lack of confidence in my ability to learn anything at school.
In Grade 7, a new teacher arrived at my school; his name was Ralph Finch. He was from England and had an irreverent, quirky outlook on life. For music class, he played us Switched on Bach and Oliver the Musical. For gym, he taught us how to play cricket. Mr. Finch was cool; he made learning fun and the kids loved him. And for some reason, he took an interest in me. He would take time to encourage and help me with my assignments. He explained math in a way that I could understand. He gave me confidence that I could learn and excel. He would sometimes pick up my workbook and show the rest of the class: “Have a look at what Danny did” (they still call me Danny in my home town…). I began to enjoy learning and started to read voraciously. I became a very good student and went on to graduate from high school at the top of my class.
What was it that was so transformative in my life? Merely words. But they were encouraging words, correcting words, words of instruction, words of praise. They were life-changing words. Have you ever thought about the power of mere words to change a life? James asks us to consider how a very small spark can ignite an entire forest fire. Your words, spoken in haste or without consideration, can squelch the spirit and destroy hope. Your words, given in season, can fan into flame passion and latent ability. Your words of grace and forgiveness can heal wounds and restore relationships. Consider the power of your words.