Gina-McClainMany of us grew up with the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

I used to believe the person that coined the phrase was an idiot.

Words can hurt—sometimes worse than broken bones.

But the longer I lead in ministry, the more I realize there is truth to this well-known phrase.

One of my spiritual goals for this year is to purposefully not pick up an offense.

Though there are plenty of opportunities to be offended, I don’t actually have to be offended unless I allow it. That’s an interesting truth. If I never pick up the offense, then my heart doesn’t suffer from the effects of it.

Easier said than done.

Recently I heard some words spoken about me that hurt—really hurt. And for a few hours, I allowed them to continue to hurt. At some point, God reminded me of my commitment—the choice to pick up an offense or not. Then I realized what I’d done.

It took some time to reconcile within myself, but at the end of the day, I could see the event for what it was: a ploy of the enemy to create divisiveness and disrupt the work God is doing. I don’t want to take part in that.

So even though sticks and stones can break my bones, words don’t have to hurt me … unless I allow them to.

As leaders, we lead well when we choose not to pick up offenses. We lead well when we give others the benefit of the doubt and walk in grace. We rise above the drama and see situations for what they truly are: distractions from the goal.

And as leaders, we can’t afford to be distracted.

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children’s ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tenn. For the original article, visit

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