Faith on the Frontstretch: When Life Gets Wicked Loose, "Choose Your Words"

Earnhardt Jr. & crew chief Steve Letarte celebrating in Victory Lane at Pocono, Aug. 3, 2014.  
“ ... and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

In the post-race press conference at Pocono on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shared how he’s changed the way he talks to his team on the radio. He illustrated with an anecdote from the Go Bowling 400.

During the race, Junior mentioned to crew chief Steve Letarte that his car was a tick tight on long runs, but said he didn’t actually ask his team to change anything. After a pit stop, the car was way too loose, so he knew Steve had called for an adjustment. He said in years past, he might have handled the situation badly.

“I think ten years ago I would have screamed, ‘What the hell are you doing? You loosened me up too much ... quit making such big adjustments!’”

But today he is intentional about being more patient. He reminds himself that his team is just trying to help him and trying to make the car better.

“When you’re in the car and it’s not working, you just carry a lot of frustration and you just bite your tongue ... trying not to be a fool on the radio,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Everybody in the pits and on the box is trying to help you and they’re the only ones that really you can complain to, so you really have to choose your words.”

Choose your words. That’s really good advice.

Words are powerful. Some might say they’re more powerful than a 900-horsepower engine, because words can change a person’s life for the better or crush someone’s spirit. Words, whether spoken or posted on social media, can either build others up or tear them down.

James 3:3-12 talks about taming the tongue. It illustrates how the tongue is a minor part of the body, like a rudder on a big ship or a tiny spark from a fire. But whoever is steering that wee rudder determines the direction of the massive ship. And the smallest flame, left unchecked, can burn down an entire forest. Likewise, James says our little tongues can utter praises to God or spew poison.

When life gets wicked loose, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and feel the need to lash out. But according to Earnhardt Jr., when his car was way too free after adjustments during the Pocono race, he chose to not to overreact.

“In that moment you got to stop and say, you know, you just got to drive it,” he said. “Maybe we went a little too far (on adjustments.) We can take it back out. Be patient.”

If Dale Earnhardt Jr. can make a conscious effort to choose his words – while shifting, checking his gauges and watching the rearview mirror as he maneuvers through high-speed traffic – surely you and I can stop and think before we speak.

When you feel frustrated or irritated, what words will you choose?

The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. ~ Proverbs 17:27

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

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Faith on the Frontstretch: When Life Gets Wicked Loose, "Choose Your Words" Faith on the Frontstretch: When Life Gets Wicked Loose, "Choose Your Words" Reviewed by Beth Reinke on Wednesday, August 06, 2014 Rating: 5