Your Tiny, Mighty Rudder


“Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member…” (James 3:4-5, NKJV).

What does this Scripture mean by comparing the tongue to the rudder of a large ship? Look closely at the language. “They are turned… wherever the pilot desires.” Think about it. Who is the one controlling the rudder? The pilot. Who is the one controlling your tongue? You. This Scripture is telling you that you can turn your life in whatever direction you desire, by using your tongue.

I believe Holy Spirit is inviting us to reflect on the use of our life’s rudder. I hear Him gently asking us to think about this question: What have we been allowing to come out of our mouths?

  • “He’s a lazy mooch, just like his father!” When we use the power of our tongues to label people in negative ways, we are setting into motion a spiritual law. Believe me, we are not simply “making an observation.” Our tongues loose life, or death, into the world around us. We will live to see the fruit of whichever way we harness this innate capacity. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21, NET).
  • “I’m such a klutz!” So many times, we even use one of the most powerful instruments God has given us – our tongue – to speak curses over own selves. These negative pronouncements become self-fulfilling prophecies. What kind of tongue-fruit do we want to eat in our future?

One more thing about our Scripture for the day. The picture it gives us is of a “large ship.” Why is the detail of “bigness” important here? Because your destiny is huge. Your future is a matter of immense importance to God. He cares so much more than even you do about where He wants to take you.

It may feel like “fierce winds” are blowing against you and me today, as we try to travel towards our destiny. No matter what we are facing, He is with us. He has given us everything that we need for navigating these waters successfully. Do we want to steer our lives in the direction of hope, growth, and flourishing that He has for us? Let’s partner with Him, using the tools He has provided. Let’s ask for Holy Spirit’s help in the operation of this tiny, mighty rudder. Let’s make the determination that only words of life will flow from these mouths of ours.


Has an encouraging word from someone else changed the course of your life? What words of life from others have helped shape you into who you are today?

27 thoughts on “Your Tiny, Mighty Rudder

  1. This is so true, and it is a good thing to remind teachers and parents. Sometimes we say things that seem insignificant to us, but those words hurt those around us. Thank you for encouraging us to use positive words and build each other up by our choice of comments.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you. A wonderful and significant reminder of the power of the tongue. One teacher from long ago gave me a word of encouragement about the possibilities he saw in me. His words when I was perhaps only 8 have stayed with me through the decades.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Jennifer, this is so inspirational. I glad I read it early. I will think about it the rest of the day. The tongue is a powerful weapon. It can destroy but it can also build. Words turn into thoughts which definitely steer our ship. Thank you for sharing. Stay safe.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Powerful.. One of my mentors said to me, ” take people’s opinions like sugarcane, squueze out the juice(the good part).Then throw away the pulp(the negative) it was more than 10yrs ago and i still value it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now that is some good advice. A perfect example of how just one small comment stayed written on your heart for so long — that mentor used their tongue for lifegiving! How wonderful 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing it here!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is why I pray out loud – so I hear myself saying the words. Most of my prayers are praise, thanksgiving, and quoting God’s Word. It gets my day off to a good start. (I know this, because I’ve seen how my day goes when I neglect to do it. :/ )

    Liked by 2 people

  6. When I was a rookie teacher back in the fall of 1978, I was blessed with a few mentors who helped guide me along during those early teaching days and weeks. I was fortunate to begin teaching in a small, caring community.

    Liked by 2 people

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