Staple it

I had this youth pastor for a period of time. I must have been about 13 or 14 years old; I was a high school freshman. I went to a big church in Tulsa and this youth pastor and his wife were young and just starting out in the ministry. They have their own mongo-church in Oklahoma City now and they are big time. But back then, they were just a sweet, young couple struggling to manage a room full of rowdy, hormonal teenagers.

So we would sit there wearing our Guess jeans rolled up just right, our K-Swiss tennis shoes, and our ponytails held in place with colorful scrunchies. Mr. Youth Pastor would come in and preach to us. It was the Mrs. Youth Pastor’s job to lead us in worship, make announcements, and generally keep the peace until her husband would come rescue her and take over the wild things. Her favorite thing to say to get us quiet was, “Staple it!”

Naturally, that became our mantra. Poor Mrs. Youth Pastor; half the kids in there thought she was crazy. Personally, I remember thinking she was beautiful and mature and cool and married, and all the things I wanted to be.

Looking back, the woman was right on target. In my humble opinion, there is nothing more important a teenager can do than be quiet. Don’t you remember thinking we knew everything? And don’t you know now, more than ever, that we didn’t? And this doesn’t just apply to teenagers, but anyone. Sometimes the best thing we can do is “Staple it.”

The Bible talks about bridling our tongues in the book of James, and how an unbridled tongue makes one’s religion useless. Well, the Juli translation of that is, “Staple it.” James goes on to encourage us to be swift to hear but slow to speak. Would you look at that? He’s telling us to “Staple it.” That James was on to something. And he wasn’t the only one. There are hundreds of scriptures that talk about the power of our words; power to give life, power to give death, power to bless and power to curse, power to bring us trouble, and power to bring us peace.

Sometimes we really need to let God do the talking for us, and just “Staple it.”

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11 thoughts on “Staple it

  1. friend says:

    My mother would like this one — she tried to hard to instill in me the saying, that “If you got nothing good to say about someone, then zip it!” Ah, I was such a disobedient child.

    Seriously, wonder if your youth pastors would invoke James 1 for “stapling it?” You do recognize that same chapter has guidance on how we speak…. the manner, tone, purpose, so as to be heard, not destructive, not dismissed. So when one “bridles” or “reigns” a horse, one doesn’t “muzzle” (or “staple”) it…. Maybe I misread you.

    Ecclesiastes 3:7 may be a help here…. or Pete Seeger & the Byrds if you like. (“to every season”) When the time arises for bold voices to speak, even knowing the cost…. may their spirits not be quenched….

    Keep writing/speaking Juli! – and let not your voice be stapled. ;-}

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    • friend says:

      I should probably just “put a sock in it,” yet with much respect, your post inspires so…. Juli, you opined that “there is nothing more important a teenager can do than be quiet.” Lord knows I do recognize your point… youthful blabber on empty heads, unmindful of elder wisdom, so often leads to awful choices made, regrets later. The perils of independence.

      That said, may I humbly suggest that the very last thing we need is another generation of gucci-teens who don’t speak, who don’t ask questions, who aren’t so burdened by the hurts of life, the pressures of paying an upside-down mortgage, that they stop envisioning a better future, of contemplating a world healed rather than permanently scarred.

      For those who dare to look, what’s driving the unrest all across the middle east is a fundamentally changed Arab street, where the youth — yes, the youth — have overwhelmingly, and often in the face of cold steel, dared to question the received wisdom from their “elders” at home — and their dictator loving “allies” and lobbyists abroad — to reject the “isms” of the past, in the forms of Nasser, Marx, Khomeini, the “brotherhood” or the dictator of the day…. to ask why they can’t have democracy too, and not at the barrel of a gun. In short, the Arab youth have become “un-stapled.” Jefferson would be impressed.

      Here’s to youthful courage and impudence, to idealism…. to freedom and the pursuit of truth & justice, not “fear” of the unknown. May such a spirit again fire the minds of youth, not just “there,” but here at home too…. in my humble opinion. ;-}

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