Benjamin Franklin once said that "the pen is mightier than the sword" and I might add that so is the tongue. I'm sure you have heard that quote at some point in your life but do you ever stop to listen to what you are really saying? The other day as I was walking in the door to my home I heard one of my children yell to another, "I hate you!" Just writing those words makes me cringe let alone hearing them come out of my child's mouth and targeting them toward a sibling. Those words hurt. My mom, like many of our moms, I'm sure, use to tell me that sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. Now, I won't call my mom a liar but I'm not so sure I agree with that little "proverb". So, when I heard those words, I confronted the offense by explaining to my child that you can't say you love God and then say you hate your brother because that makes you a liar (1 John 4:20). And then in my self-righteous, indignant spirit I begin to think, "Where does this child learn this?". They must be hearing it from the kids in school or on TV or…me. And then I realized, I say it all the time. Not that I hate my brother but that I hate this or that. I hate it when… And on I go, hate, hate, hate, hate. I don't mean anything by it. I don't mean to offend. In my mind it is an expression but none the less, for my children, it has turned into a weapon. My own mouth has provided the license for my children to justify in their own minds another way to hurt and tear down another. Whether I like it or not I am my children's greatest teacher and I am accountable for the reality which Jesus spoke in Luke 6:45… "The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart." Once again, I am reminded that my words are powerful. They can tear down or they can build up. My family hears what I say even if I think they are not around. They inherit my words of blessing or words of cursing. They learn from me more than anyone else and do accordingly . Just a last thought… maybe you don't have kid's but you likely have some other leadership role maybe as a husband, elder, Sunday School teacher, business owner, etc. people listen to you and they will become like you in their speech. Maybe in only subtle ways but they will pick up on what you say and say what you say. When you listen to those whom you lead, do you like what you hear? Before you pass judgment upon them, first stop and listen to yourself .