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Using Words Carefully

February 09, 2023
By Tammy McIlvoy

With little idea of what I was jumping into, I began my teaching career at the old age of 24. My original college degree was in journalism and this, along with speech, was what I now found myself teaching at a  public high school in Southeast, TX. My husband had begun his broadcasting career in Beaumont two years prior and after our marriage, teaching is where I ultimately landed. As you may imagine, journalism was important to us. I wanted my students to embrace what, at the time, were the rules, ethics and motivators of every great journalist. Journalism was not meant to be about entertainment and ratings, but about the transmission of facts and stories that readers or viewers needed for their betterment and the betterment of society. When I transitioned from public school to private Christian education, I was able to show students biblically that the way we use our words is of great interest to the Lord. This is true whether we are communicating to large audiences, or simply one on one. We are called to be good stewards of our speech.

According to Google, there are 126 Bible passages about the tongue. One of my favorites can be found in Ephesians. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) While this verse specifically mentions the words that come out of our mouths, the lesson should be extended to words that we communicate in any format, including through text and social media. According to the Word of God, the words of our life should be helpful to those who listen. They should build others up, never tearing down. I believe that this was God’s primary objective when giving us the gift of communication. We are to use our words according to the needs of those that listen, not according to the desires of our own hearts that can so easily deceive.

Several weeks ago, I introduced a new policy, first in the parent bulletin and secondly with the secondary students in a family meeting. While it promotes the same principle as previously existing policies dealing with respect, kindness, purity, and compassion, this policy speaks specifically to offensive discourse and discriminatory speech. Offensive discourse is basically rude or insulting speech. It causes someone to feel hurt, upset, or angry. It is never acceptable but becomes discriminatory when it targets a group or individual based on gender, race, disability, color, denomination, and national or ethnic origin. Judging or targeting others based on these factors is against the heart of God and has no place at Logos Prep. We want to teach our students to treat one another with love and respect. As adults, it is important that we both teach and model this behavior. The teaching includes helping our students determine the impact their words are having on others. Impact always outweighs intent. At every age, three simple questions can help us choose words that will benefit our listener and have a positive impact:
Is it kind?
Is it true?
Is it necessary?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the words need not be spoken.

Thank you for partnering with us in teaching our Logos Prep Lions how to be good stewards of the gift of communication, using their words to benefit others that they may make an impact for Christ.

Logos Prep Discriminatory Speech Policy
“Logos Preparatory Academy denounces the use of offensive discourse targeting a group or an individual based on gender, race, disability, color, denomination, and national and ethnic origin. ‘Discriminatory speech’ or any form of expression through which speakers vilify, humiliate, or incite hatred intentionally or unintentionally on the aforementioned bases is contrary to the vision, mission statement, guiding principles, and core values of Logos Prep. Violations of our policy against discriminatory speech may be subject to Section 9.2 of the Logos Preparatory Academy Parent/Student Handbook.”

Tammy McIlvoy
Head of School
Logos Preparatory Academy