Pleasant Words

Diane Bloem

READ : Proverbs 15:1-8

Gold stars, smile faces, “good job” stickers and words of commendation ensure a school paper’s safe arrival on the kitchen table. Encouragement builds confidence. Harsh criticism discourages students.

As we noted earlier this month, Solomon did not promote unearned boosts to self-esteem. When he writes, “Pleasant words promote instruction” (Prov. 16:21), he is teaching educational psychology. Tense students who fear failure are likely to “tune out.” Students who are warmly welcomed, whose interest is aroused, who are encouraged to keep trying, and whose efforts are recognized are likely to learn.

But what if a teacher or parent is dealing with personal problems that cause tension? It is difficult to keep these feelings out of the teaching situation. They show up in sharp answers or reprimands, poor preparation, lack of enthusiasm. The learning atmosphere becomes negative. Instruction is not promoted.

Burdened teachers need to bring their problems to the Lord. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you” (Ps. 55:22). When love is in short supply, God will restock your heart (1 John 4:7). When colleagues or disruptive students seem to be ruining your best efforts, use God’s power to dispense a gentle answer, patient listening, understanding smiles and pleasant words. God will bless your efforts.


Dear God, strengthen our spirits. Put pleasant words on our tongues so that relationships may be healed. Amen.