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Words can keep people in bondage, Elliff warns at ministers’ luncheon


ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Words can inflict wounds that keep people in bondage for years, Tom Elliff told more than 1,100 persons attending the Wounded Ministers-LeaderCare luncheon June 12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., said wounds caused by words “may be something that was said years or miles away … and try as you may to overcome it, you’ve been dragging it around like a ball and chain.”

LeaderCare, a ministry for ministers and their families conducted by LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC, merged in 1999 with the Wounded Heroes ministry. The luncheon was sponsored by LifeWay.

Elliff based his message, “The Curse of Words,” on the third chapter of the New Testament Book of James.

Elliff cited the example of a woman who told him her husband had not sung aloud since the third grade. During a class musical, a teacher had asked him not to sing because she thought he was off-key. After this experience, he thought it would be best if he never sang again. For 40 years, remembering the pain of the teacher’s words, he had not sung a note.

Elliff recounted relaying his thoughts on the curse of words to a friend, who said, “I have one of those, too. It’s about to kill me.”

His friend went on to tell of a conversation he’d heard as a young associate pastor. The senior pastor spent a lot of time traveling and two secretaries, who were unaware the young pastor could overhear, were having a conversation concerning both the senior pastor and the associate pastor. They’d said the associate pastor “didn’t know much about preaching but at least he’s here.”

The minister went on to believe his only service was to be there for everything, even if it killed him. As a result, he’d spent years doing everything he could just to be at the church for everything.

Elliff, a former missionary and Southern Baptist Convention president, asked the group at the luncheon to believe in the power of words to control the conduct of their lives. He also said to beware because the tongue cannot be tamed. The inconsistency of the tongue can both bless God and curse men, he said.

People are impacted negatively by words that are not necessarily meant to inflict pain or wounds, Elliff added.

To break the bondage of hurtful words, Elliff said people should use three weapons: “the blood of the lamb, the Word of God and the name of Jesus.”

They can use these weapons by asking and applying three questions to spoken words: “Did these words escape the atonement (does the blood of Christ cover this sin)? Does the Bible say this is true of me? Is this consistent with the character of Christ?”

LeaderCare officials reported that a network of more than 1,000 counselors is available through state conventions and 90 clergy care organizations to assist ministers and their families.

Also, LeaderCare provides retreats and conferences and offers help for ministers dealing with a number of problems, including termination, marital stress and conflict mediation. A video testimony of couples who have benefited from the Wounded Ministers’ program also was presented.

LeaderCare’s toll-free number for ministers and their families is 1-888-789-1911. All calls are confidential. More information on LeaderCare and Wounded Ministers can be requested from leadercare@lifeway.com, woundedministers@lifeway.com or (615) 251-5618.

    About the Author

  • Hilary Palmer