As someone who speaks publicly I am very aware that I am always close to a slip up. I think I should start every sermon with the following disclaimer:
The words of the speaker do not necessarily reflect the original words planned by the speaker nor do they imply that the speaker is under the influence of a mind altering drug or that the water bottle he is drinking from contains any form of intoxicating beverage.
I should know better but I still do it.
Everyone has one or more words that must be avoided at all costs when in the company of others. On Sunday I tried to use the word “specific” in my sermon; it entered my brain and came out my mouth so fast that I didn’t have time to stop it. I know I shouldn’t have used this word but it entered my brain sounding right, too bad it left my mouth sounding totally wrong.
The night before I preach, I do a few run-throughs of my sermon. I preach to the not so attentive or potentially judgemental furniture in my office. I don’t use a script when I preach but rather point form notes, notes that I should have altered before Sunday morning.
My notes said that “some people in Corinth were aligning themselves with specific apostles.” My mouth said “splific apostles,” followed by “spifific apostles,” and many other mispronounced forms of this word including a reference to an ocean on the west side of North America. If that happens in front of my desk, bookcase and a few pieces of office equipment, it’s not a big deal but a live audience… I should have changed my notes.
There are other words I have learned not to use publicly.
During announcements one Sunday I explained that we would be setting up a bunch of booths in the parking lot for our fun fair. I could not for the life of me figure out why a bunch of booths in a parking lot were so funny. It appears that my tongue, my lips and my teeth conspired together with my vocal cords to make the word booths sound like booze. Needless to say the church made it clear that the fun in fun fair was not going to be the result of alcohol and I made it clear that I will never again make an announcement that includes the word booths.
There are words I have learned to alter when I speak publicly.
I am a keyboard player. I call myself a keyboard player. I call all other electronic piano type instrument players, keyboard players. While that works for most, there are just some people who play classical piano that cannot be referred to as keyboard players. The proper name for them is pianists. Again my tongue, my lips and my teeth conspired together with my vocal cords to make the word pianist sound like a part of the male anatomy that is rarely mentioned in church or in everyday conversation, for that matter. To avoid getting laughed at and possibly slapped I now pronounce the word pee-an-ist.
There are words I have said that are difficult for a small child to repeat.
Most of us know that asking a child to say fire-truck or dump-truck will most likely lead to the child replacing the “tr” with an “f” and no one wants their child using that word. The truck mispronunciation is well known but mispronouncing hassle was unheard of, at least for me and my wife, until my son told me to “stop being a hassle.” Hassle is the word he meant, King James donkey hole (my way of being polite) is what he said and not just with me and my wife in the room, he said it in front of my mother.
There are words I have said to my wife that are best not repeated by a small child.
We were sitting in the living room of my parent’s house. My mother and my wife were sitting on chairs, I was sitting on the radiator (boy I miss sitting on a radiator in the middle of winter) and my son, the one who couldn’t say “hassle,” was sitting on my wife’s lap. He looked up into her eyes as she was talking and interrupted with this important announcement, “mommy you’re a sexy babe.” My mother was taken aback by this rather interesting statement and tried not to laugh so as not to encourage this type of inappropriate talk. My wife is still a sexy babe but you won’t hear me say that out loud ever again!
I need to always think about what I say before I say it.
I may think about the words I use to avoid embarrassing mispronunciations and the things I say to avoid little ears hearing and repeating, but I must admit when it really counts I am less discerning with the words I choose.
If only I would find it embarrassing when I mispronounced judgement on others actions.
If only I would avoid saying things that others should not hear and might repeat.
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:7-10 (NIV)