This past Sunday, Rebekah and I headed into the city for church. The pastor told the story of a Major League Baseball player involved in jail ministry. One day, an inmate asked how he made the majors.

“When my dad played catch with me, he always said, ‘If you keep throwing like that, one day you’ll be in the majors!’” the ball player said. “And, ‘You’re a natural! If you keep catching like that, you’ll be in the majors!’ My dad encouraged me, and it turns out he was right.”

The inmate replied, “I understand. You see, my father always told me I was no good, that I was worthless and that I wouldn’t amount to anything. He said one day I’d end up in prison. And it turns out he was right.”

The sad truth is we live in a social-political climate today where communication seems saturated with discouraging, angry, negative, hateful, divisive, spiteful words. But we have the opportunity to reverse the tide of conflict and negativity.

Consider the following (from The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian, Derek Maul):

• The average working vocabulary has been estimated between 10,000 and 25,000 words. I wonder how many of those are words of grace?

• The English language includes upwards of a half-million words; there are certainly enough to choose from if we want to enrich our selections.

• If we use words of grace, expressions of life, phrases of encouragement and sayings of benevolence, our thoughts and ultimately our actions are lifted up.

• As Christians, we can make the decision to fill our hearts and minds with the powerful and healing words of God. We can cultivate a deliberate vocabulary of grace, words that possess the authority to transform us.

Words not only with the authority to transform us, but with the authority to transform the world around us too. Then Jesus said to the twelve followers, “Will you leave Me also?” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, who else can we go to? Only you have the words that give life…” (John 6:67-68).


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Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at