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Talk It Up

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Talk It Up

Written by Dean Clark

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

Communications, many times is the key to success in life, hockey is no different. How many times have you gotten rid of the puck at the right time because a teammate says "man on!" and you make a timely pass? How many times have you heard "boards" or "pass" or "shoot" or maybe from your coach "get off the ice!"? What you communicate to your teammates shows what kind of player you are too. Are you encouraging to fellow teammates or do you bring them down? Do you listen to the wisdom of your coaches to help you become a better player or do you disparage the coach behind his back?

When I flew F-16s in the U.S. Air Force, communicating with my fellow wingmen was not only imperative, it was life saving. When fighting air-to-air or air-to-ground, pilots would need to communicate to others their intentions, threats and situations. The word "bingo" told everyone that I am almost out of fuel. "Break right!" would tell someone there is an imminent threat about to shoot a missile at them. "Blow through" meant not to engage a threat because our primary objective was to drop our bombs on a specific target. After every mission, we debriefed to discuss our effectiveness. One of the major objectives was effective communications. Did the flight communicate effectively or could we have improved? Did the wingmen follow the flight lead's instructions or did we do our own thing?

What about our communications within our Christian walk and the witness it portrays?

Do you claim Christianity yet have a tongue that is unbridled? What does that even mean? Have you ever ridden a horse? Have you ever ridden a horse without a bridle, the device used control the horse that allows the rider to control 1500 lbs. of muscle. James is telling his readers, and ultimately us, that if you claim to be a follower of Jesus yet you can't control your tongue, do you really have faith in Jesus? All Christians have moments when we fall back into our old sinful ways and our tongue becomes "unbridled", but we must ask for forgiveness. James is talking about a consistent pattern of someone's speech being used to hurt others or say inappropriate things. The discipline of taming the tongue is so important that James dedicates a large portion of his writing to it in James 3:1-12. Jesus says in Matthew 12:33-37 that ultimately the words we speak are from the abundance of our hearts. So what is filling your heart? Good stuff (bible reading, prayer, confession of sins) or bad stuff (cussing, condemning, hiding of sins). Your speech will show the condition of your heart.

Being a Christian on a hockey team means adhering to a different standard than the rest of the team. Being a Christian on a hockey team means not allowing your speech to conform to that of other teammates. Being a Christian on a hockey team means not speaking ill of your coach, at all! Being a Christian on a hockey team means praising your teammates when they do something good and encouraging them when they make a mistake. Being a Christian on a hockey team means we strive to bridle our tongue to promote the love of Jesus to those who do not know Him and when given the opportunity, share the free gift of salvation that Jesus has given to you.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you feel when someone cuts you down?
  2. What are you putting in your heart and your mind?
  3. Whose standards are you living by, the worlds (yours) standards or God's standards?
  4. How do others perceive you in regards to your speech?
  5. Who do you have to keep you accountable in the way you speak to others? In the way you conduct your life?

Additional Reading

  1. Romans 12:2
  2. Galatians 5:22-26
  3. Ephesians 4:29-32
  4. Ephesians 5:1-6

About the Author

Dean Clark lives in Louisville, KY and is a member of the FCA Hockey Board of Directors. Dean and his wife Raina have two married daughters who skated, one in figure skating and the other hockey. Outside of the hockey world, Dean makes a living as an airline pilot for a large brown freight company. He has been an avid fan of hockey but only started playing 6 years ago and loves the competitive nature of the sport!

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