Whoever said “words can never hurt me” was an idiot.

Words hurt. In fact, they can destroy a person. Just ask any player or coach at any level. Perhaps the words that hurt the most are the ones spoken behind the back. The coach who runs down players or parents but won’t say anything directly to them. The player who makes fun of the coach but acts like all is good to his face. The parent who gossips and spreads dissension but is too much of a coward to speak publicly about anything. When those feelings and words come to light, the pain is real and lasting for the targeted person.

Proverbs 18:8 speaks to it. “The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.”

I pray that you are the type of person who recognizes how hurtful your words can be, even the words you don’t think will ever be repeated.

Here’s some advice to be sure your words don’t destroy someone else.

1. Say only what you wouldn’t mind to have repeated or posted on social media.

2. Man up and own what you say. Then apologize and ask for the Lord’s help to ensure it doesn’t become a habit.

3. Just shut up.

4. Get as far away from “whisperers” as possible. Avoid them at the ballpark, ufriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter. Whatever you have to do, do it. It’s worth it.

5. If you have a problem, handle it directly and privately. Like a man.

Lord Jesus, remind me of this. Make me the kind of player, coach, or parent who doesn’t have to hide what I say. Give me a heart of love, compassion, and forgiveness toward my players, my coaches, and my parents. Fill my heart and my mouth with what pleases you.