Most youth ministries struggle with one thing more than any other: sins of the mouth. Be it gossip, or lies, or swear words, people get hurt when we lose control over our tongues. Here’s an idea to illustrate the twofold problem of sinning with your mouth.
Ask the group finish this statement: “Sticks and stones may break bones, but….”
Ask them if that’s really true. Most students will say that it is NOT true at all. Most students will have felt the pain of someone’s words.
Say, “There are really two problems when it comes to hurtful words. First, somebody gets hurt when we lose control of our mouths. Secondly, no matter how hard we try, or how “sincere” we may be, we CANNOT take back what was said.”
Maybe this image will help you understand what I mean. (Pull out a tube of toothpaste.) Say, “Let’s say this toothpaste tube is our mouths and the toothpaste inside is a hurtful word, or a lie, or a piece of gossip.”
Then, squeeze the tube really hard, shooting toothpaste out of the tube. Point to the toothpaste on the floor or on the table and say, “See that mess; it’s a lot like the mess we get into when we lose control of our mouths. That’s a big problem. But, there’s another really big problem: no matter how hard you try, you CANNOT put the toothpaste back in the tube. The same thing is true with our words: you cannot put them back in your mouth. Hurtful words can’t be taken back. We need to be really careful about what we say.”
James 3:1-12 is a good passage of Scripture to study in relation to this topic.
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.