Michael Sedler, the author, grew up in a Jewish home, but is now an ordained minister. He has counseled in many different schools and organizations, which gives him a wide range of experience in communication problems. One of these he saw throughout his career was the hurtful impact of negative words. When he wasn't speaking them himself, others spoke them in his hearing. While visiting a church in southern Idaho, he heard a minister give a sermon that turned the light bulb on. This minister spoke about the damage of hearing negative words, not only the damage of speaking them. Sedler found out later that much of his material was taken from the "Seminar in Basic Youth Conflicts" put out by IBLP. This started Sedler on further researches in the topic, and brought about the end result of Speaking Words That Hurt.
-What is meant by an 'evil or negative report' and how do I recognize it?
-Is it ever possible to talk about someone without indulging in a negative report?
-Is it still an evil report if those who are speaking do not mean to injure another person?
-What if I just listen without comment? Is that not okay?
-Can I learn to respond in a biblical way to people who gossip and murmur?
-How can I be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually cleansed from the violation that occurs when I listen to these reports?
~Chapter One, Stopping Words That Hurt
Sedler presents the above questions in his first chapter as he lays the groundwork for his book. If these are questions that you have, then you'll want to read Stopping Words That Hurt to find out the answers. The book divides into three key aspects, though these sections aren't official; they're merely ones I've made up myself.
There are three things we need to identify to stop words that hurt. The first thing is the words themselves. Do you know hurtful words when you hear them? The second is our attitude in listening to evil reports. Sometimes we listen because we are confused, sometimes we listen because we are foolish, but every evil report we listen is a contamination. Third, we need to identify the type of person giving the evil report. Sedler gives 7 types of people who speak negative words, and how the Bible views them.
So what do you do when someone comes up to you and starts gossiping? Well, certainly listening politely isn't an option! When we listen to an evil report, we're not only participating; we're also allowing ourselves to be polluted and damaged, and needless hurt is far from the kind of sacrifice God intends Christians to make. Discerning the motives of the speaker, refusing to make judgments based on their report, and polite ways to refuse participation in the conversation are all included throughout Stopping Words That Hurt.
If we're the one giving reports, we need to turn from our hurtful words. If we're the one receiving them, we need to have an attitude of restoration, and not cut off the people who have been hurting us. Repentance is the key to healing, and reaching out to those who have hurt us will help us avoid making the same mistake.
Michael Sedler's book is written in an easy-to-read style, and he organizes his thoughts very logically with clear headings. He also takes great care to define his terms, writing definitions for what he means by terms such as 'evil report', 'confusion', 'contamination', and 'foolishness'. Every attitude he speaks out against, he makes sure to explain his meaning for, and this is very helpful in persuasive writing. Though it took me a while to read this book since I had several unexpected events this summer, I think during a normal workload it would be a pretty fast read, since Sedler takes the time to summarize and explain everything so clearly.
This book is definitely both convicting and instructive. Convicting in the sense that I realized just how many negative comments I spoke without realizing it, and instructive in that I now have a better idea how to identify and graciously resist negative words when others speak them to me. Sedler hits pretty hard on the gossip, and after reading those sections, it's shocking to see just what gossip is--it's far more prevalent then women's church suppers. (No offense to those, of course.) You'll find it in chat rooms, friends going out for coffee, families chatting in the car, church attendees sitting in the pew before the service: basically everywhere.
Stopping Words That Hurt does not address verbal abuse. It focuses heavily on gossip and negativity, which are valuable areas to be addressed. However, if you're looking for help on figuring out whether or not someone is verbally abusing you and how to seek help, this won't be the best resource for that. It's designed to address different needs.
This is the type of book that not only helps you identify a problem, but also equips you to rise out of the pit of negative words, whether you're the one giving them or receiving them. We all face negativity, and I highly recommend this clear, concise, and helpful book for any bibliophile looking how to deal with this issue.
**This book was given to me for free by Bethany House in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to give a favorable opinion, and all thoughts expressed in this article are my own.**
*Stopping Words That Hurt was originally published as Stairway to Deception in 1999, and Stop the Runaway Conversation in 2001.