Each of us has been given the power to bless or to curse. But because we haven’t explored that power, we very often harm or wound people without even knowing it. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21 (NAB).
A quick survey of the creation story in Genesis chapter 1 reveals the words “God said” eight different times. He said: let there be light, a dome, water, vegetation, lights in the dome of the sky, abundance of living creatures — and finally — human beings. In short, God created the universe with words. He spoke it into existence. Now whether you believe the creation story in Genesis is literally explained or metaphorically described, either way, we can meditate endlessly on the power and dynamism of the words we say.
Consider this scripture: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV).
Do you ever feel stressed at work? Have you ever let that stress dominate your words? You know, you say something to a co-worker that you quickly regret. Or you make sure your customer knows they are wrong and you are right — only to realize later how rude your remarks sounded.
Briefly think of a time when someone spoke words to you that pierced like a sword, that wounded you deeply. Think about the pain, the emotional trauma, and your response to it all.
Now, put those thoughts away forever, and think about a time when someone spoke encouraging and supporting words to you. Think about someone telling you how much you mean to them, how you inspire them. How did those words make you feel? How much healing and comfort did they bring? And, what was your response to those positive and loving words?
A short exercise like that helps us understand how the writer of Proverbs could say: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
Our words literally can cause terrible suffering. They can snuff out someone else’s energy. They can destroy a person’s attitude and suck the life out of many of their plans. It brings a different understanding to the fifth commandment: You shall not kill. Have I ever killed someone’s dreams or destroyed their hope by the words I’ve spoken?
How can we leverage the power of our tongue in our work lives to only bless and affirm others?
- Think every word through before speaking. Whether your are speaking to the person in the next cubicle, your customer on the phone, or your boss who may be more stressed out than you, let your mind filter your words before you let them loose. It’s very counter to today’s culture, but it is also very helpful to our passion to be Christ-like.
“Everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak” James 1:19 (NAB).
- Listen with interest and compassion. All of the people you work with are children of God. They have feelings, passions, and their own issues to deal with. It is difficult to say something hurtful when our hearts are full of compassion.
“Put on then, heartfelt compassion” Colossians 3:12 (NAB).
- Make sure every word you say benefits someone, or don’t say them at all. Foster a deep desire to benefit everyone around you — whether it is your customer, co-worker, vendor, boss or even a competitor. Use words of encouragement and love in every situation.
“No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such that it may impart grace to those who hear” Ephesians 4:29 (NAB).
We have a responsibility to bless and not to curse.
We have stewardship over our bodies, including our tongues. None of us wants to injure anyone. Yet, we all have said words we would love to take back; I know I have! Let’s transform our lives today by making sure the words we speak create life just like the words God spoke when he created the universe.
About Mike Van Vranken
Mike Van Vranken, a lifelong Catholic, is a writer, speaker, retreat leader, and teacher. Following forty years of leading, coaching, and developing business owners, Mike founded Mike Van Vranken Ministries to fulfill his passion to bring Jesus to the world around him. He brings his experiences as a mentor, leader, speaker, coach, and entrepreneur to provide teaching and spiritual leadership to all who are interested. His dream is to deliver the teachings of Jesus to women and men, old and young, poor and rich, people of every background and diversity — to the entire body of Christ.
Mike is co-author of the brand new book: Faith Positive in a Negative World. In paperback and on Kindle now at amazon.com. He and Barbara, his wife of 42 years, live in Shreveport, LA. Discover more about Mike at www.mikevanvrankenministries.org as well as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google.