Parable #38: What Did You Say?

    A Parable by Donald Lee

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    (This week is the 41stinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about keeping your words positive and encouraging. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)

    You can change your world by changing yourwords . . . Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)JOEL OSTEEN(American pastor, televangelist, author)

    “What did you say?” I was astonished. “Amina, I can’t believe I heard you correctly.”

    Amina blushed and squirmed.

    “I know,” she said. “My swearing has gotten pretty bad since last year.”

    Amina was the last person from whom I expected to hear foul language. She was one of my star pupils. In grade eight, she was already the best trombone player in the school. Not surprisingly, she was also a top academic student. Amina came from a Moslem family and had a strict upbringing.

    “The words we use, like most things we do, are largely habit, Amina. Don’t let yourself fall into bad habits of speaking. You didn’t talk like this last year. What does your father think of this kind of language?” I knew what the answer would be.

    “Oh, I’m careful not to talk like that when he’s around,” Amina admitted with a grin.

    “The problem is, Amina, that you’ll get into a habit of speaking, and you’ll speak without thinking. Sooner or later you’re going to use foul language around your dad—or around someone you want to impress. What is inside you comes out.

    I’ve noticed that you started wearing a headscarf. That’s an outward sign of faith. But the scarf cannot cover up foulness in your mind. That will come out of your mouth. Improve your thoughts and your words. Purity exists inside you, or it doesn’t exist at all. It’s not something you can wrap around yourself. Think purely, speak purely, and act purely. These are the three ways we create ourselves.”


    The ancients understood the power of words. It is expressed in the Greek concept of “logos,” although they likely learned it from others since the concept appears in all ancient civilizations.In Greek, it means not simply “word” but also “reason” and “logic.” More generally, it is the active, rational, and spiritual principle that permeates the universe—what we would call God. That’s why St. John, writing for a Greek audience, identified Jesus as the “Word of God,” the second “person” of the creation trinity. Greek readers understood exactly what he meant.

    In the Old Testament, we find many references to the power of the word. From the burning bush, God tells Moses “I Am that I Am,” (Ex 3:14). This means both that Jehovah is the one god who truly is God, but it’s also a pithy summary of creation. I am _____. You fill in the blank. We become what we say. Just as God created the universe by “speaking” it into existence (“Let there be light”, Gn 1:3), we create ourselves by speaking what we are.

    Thoughts are things, mind is the builder, and our words crystallize our thoughts into materiality. Jesus said it is not what goes into our body that defiles it but what comes out of our body, (Mt 15:11). Our words have the power to raise us up or tear us down—to create ourselves in the image of what we speak. As the famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said, “There is power in words. What you say is what you get.”

    We create ourselves and our lives by our thoughts, words, and deeds—this is the creation trinity, the three steps of creation. We must be careful not to hold thoughts in our minds, images in our imagination, or let words pass our lips that we do not want to manifest in our experience. It will hinder, not help, our performance of who we really are and who we want to become.

    We want a mantra like this:

    I am the kind of person who has pure thoughts, not gutter thoughts;

    Who sees the best in people, not the worst in them;

    Who speaks the Love, Joy, and Peace of Life,

    Not the fear, despair, and anger of it.

    Life contains all of this, but I choose to feed the good wolf.

    We are what we speak. We create ourselves and our experience with our thoughts, words, and actions. Let us always speak our best and highest truth about who we want to become.

    Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website:, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook

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