Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit - you choose. Proverbs 18:21

For the last couple months, I’ve been the assistant coach for a Rookie League ball team, helping a group of 1st graders learn the fundamentals of baseball. My role on the team is Field Coach, which means I’m out in the field with the players whenever they’re on defense. In theory, I’m helping them learn where to stand, how to cut-off a throw from the outfield, and what it means to cover a base. But let’s be real - mostly I’m just trying to keep them awake out there. Being a Field Coach in Rookie League is like playing a game of “Whac-A-Mole.” Just as soon as I’ve finished encouraging the right fielder to stop picking daises, I’m running to the infield to check on my napping third baseman, only to realize that the shortstop has vacated the field entirely to visit a nearby port-a-potty.

And after a few innings of running in circles on a dusty field under the hot sun, I can start to become frayed. And I can begin to become more of an exasperated babysitter than a patient coach. After all, shouting is easier than running. Lecturing is easier than mentoring. Irritation is easier than encouragement. And careless words come easier than careful ones.

That’s when I have to remember that I have a choice.

When it’s all said and done, none of those kids will remember the specifics of a Tuesday night ball game when they were 7 years old. But they will all remember how the experience of playing baseball made them think and feel about themselves. The identity that was spoken over them while they were swinging a bat or wearing a glove. And they’ll carry that view of themselves into whatever they do next.

That’s the power of words. And it’s a power we all wield. Our words can be poison. Our words can be fruit. It’s up to us to decide.

Every time I run onto the field with those kids now, I remind myself that my most important job isn’t teaching them how to catch or throw or scoop a grounder. My most important job is to speak life into their bones. And that’s something I can apply more places than just the baseball diamond.

Peter Holmes
BCC Families Pastor