Every once in a while I’m reminded of how important words are. There’s a popular rhyme we all know, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. I’m not sure the origin of this little saying but let’s face it, it’s a lie.
Words, positive and negative, have incredible power. We have the potential with our words to lift the spirits of a person or add anxiety, to bring a person joy or create discouragement.
Proverbs has much to say about our words and how powerful they are. Here’s just one example.
A word fitly spoken
is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
Just last week I was reminded of how an encouraging statement can make all the difference. I was struggling with a little discouragement when I received this text from my dad. It’s as if he and God knew exactly what I needed.
It made so much difference in how I was thinking and feeling.
Students are especially susceptible to words. They’re already feeling insecure and bad about how they look and behave. A kind / encouraging word can act as a beacon in a world where they’re constantly hearing how insignificant they are.
When relating to others, my wife, kids, staff, students, I want to be intentional about using words to encourage and strengthen. The power we have to influence those around us with words is huge.
As I’m thinking through growing in this area here are a few thoughts.
Be a truth teller
Don’t try to make something up just to encourage someone. There’s nothing worse than someone trying to blow sunshine up your skirt. It feels cheap, manipulative and confusing. As you observe others look for ways God uniquely uses them. They may not see it unless you tell them.
“You’re great” isn’t as good as “I love the way you served little Johnny other night”. Specificity can help others see how God has uniquely wired them and is using them. The depth of encouragement is proportionate to how specific you are.
Most people (especially students) already feel they don’t measure up. They are told over and over that they’re not good enough and will never amount to anything. As we create a culture of positive words it can act as a rhythm that balances out the lies they are hearing.
So today as you’re interacting with those around you look for opportunities to use your words to build. As you use words to encourage you will be lifting the souls of those around you, and that's a good thing.
To make an apt answer is a joy to a man,
and a word in season, how good it is!