We are quick to complain about the chaos the world is in. Everybody is talking about the corruption, the fact that you can trust nobody anymore, the crime, the violence, the lying, the cheating and how rude people are.
We blame politicians and corrupt businessmen, and we even go to the extent to ask why God allows all this. But have you ever paid attention to your words? Yes, the words you speak every day have a far greater effect than what you might realize.
Nugget #37 in John L. Mason’s book An Enemy Called Average is about “ten truisms that aren’t true”. A few weeks ago I’ve discussed 20 attributes of a leader and I repeated them as they are in his book. I mentioned that there is not much to discuss about facts, as they are what they are.
Today I want to stay with the norm which I have followed from the beginning of this series though. John Mason is highlighting ten specific truisms, but you will have to read about those in his book.
As I have done every week so far, I will refer to his nugget, but then do a discussion which is completely my own opinion. So for today’s discussion I will choose other sayings and focus on those. These are things we tend to say before we think about what we are saying.
Words Have Power.
Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) says “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. Yet, we still don’t pay attention to what we say.
What I fail to understand (and I hear this often) is when people say “I love working with John. We can have a huge argument about work and I can even swear at him, but it’s only business. An hour later we can have coffee together and there are no hard feelings”.
What am I missing here? What you are saying is that you can treat me like a piece of dirt the one moment, and the very next moment I must be your buddy. That’s like expecting of me to have some kind of ‘switch’ somewhere that I just flip over depending on your mood or opinion. When you want to be rude to me, I must just accept it and when you want to be buddies again the next moment; I should be grateful and smile.
Forgive me, but I fail to understand the logic in that reasoning. I do not say that we should always agree about everything. But then we can have a civilized conversation, showing mutual respect until we can come to some form of an agreement. There is no need to insult one another. As an example; how could you tell someone to his face that he is plain stupid and that he doesn’t know what he is doing; and an hour later you want to have a friendly conversation over a cup of coffee and expect that same person to act as though he thinks you respect his intelligence?
And then we wonder why so many people battle today with low self-esteem. Why do people battle with an identity crisis? At the same time people can’t understand why no-one takes them seriously. Yet, they would tell someone they don’t want anything to do with them, but tomorrow morning they sit down and have coffee together as if nothing has happened.
According to Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12 we shouldn’t need to make promises or oaths to convince somebody when we say something. What we say should be so trustworthy that we simply need to say “yes” or “no”.
The study notes in the Life Application Bible (KJV) for James 5:12 say the following: “A person with a reputation for exaggeration or lying often can’t get anyone to believe him on his word alone. Christians should never become like that. Always be honest so that others will believe your simple yes or no. By avoiding lies, half-truths and omissions of the truth, you will become known as a trustworthy person.
This does not mean that you need to become a “sour grape” and you are never allowed to joke with someone. But when you are known for your “yes” meaning “yes” and your “no” meaning “no”, people will take you serious when you say something. That also means that when you have a difference of opinion with someone else about some business or work matter, you are not going to say something without thinking. You do not have to get involved in a screaming session or an argument. You can voice your opinion, and that settles it. Both parties can still respect one another for their opinions, and that cup of coffee afterwards can be enjoyed by both parties.
Six Examples of What We Say Without Thinking:
- “If it was me I would have punched him” or sometimes people really get into it and it becomes “If I was there I would have shot him” or “If that happens to me I’ll shoot him”.
- No you wouldn’t. Firstly, you weren’t there, how can you say for a fact what you would have done?
- Secondly, nine times out ten, people who are quick to make these kind of statements, respond totally to the opposite when they do find themselves in that situation.
- Thirdly, it’s not as simple as just drawing a firearm and shooting someone. Have you ever thought about the consequences? Do you even know what it feels like to point a firearm at someone?
- “Everything in life comes at a price”.
- No, if you work hard and you achieve success, that work was an investment. I wouldn’t exactly call that a price. (Unless you didn’t maintain the balance and you lost your family in the process. That is paying a price.)
- “It’s either win or lose”.
- I have recently heard a nice one to replace that statement with: “It’s either win or learn”.
- We often hear parents calling their children stupid. “Why did you do that, are your stupid?”……Or they take some task away from the child while making the comment “I’ll rather do it myself, you’ll never be able to do it”.
- These remarks are causing so much damage. That child eventually starts believing that he / she is useless and can’t do anything right.
- “That will never work”.
- You can only say that once you have stopped trying.
- “This is just my luck”, or “I always have bad luck”, or “with my luck I’ll always end up with a problem which can’t be solved”.
- That’s because you have decided before-hand that you cannot solve the problem. Your mind responds to what you are saying continually, so you start believing what you are saying. By this time, it doesn’t matter what problem ends up on your desk, it will look difficult to you, because that is what you expect. You’ve already made up your mind about how bad it’s going to be. It’s got nothing to do with ‘luck’. Once again, it’s not about what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.
There are many more of these, but maybe it’s time to start paying more attention to what we say.
Earlier this month there was a discussion on the Believers Voice of Victory Broadcast between Kenneth Copeland and Keith Moore. The discussion was on the topic of how God can clearly be seen. But during this discussion Keith Moore also mentioned some great examples of how our words have an influence on our thinking. He also illustrates an excellent example of how it affects our children through the way we respond to them and what we say to them.
There is one other saying that we also often use, and while we might think it’s just an expression, this one holds more truth than what you may think. We would sometimes refer to someone by saying that person “is sharp with the tongue”, or “wow, she has a sharp tongue”. That is normally referring to someone who seems to be good at saying something hurtful (often sarcastically), and those words really penetrate and hurts deeply.
This alone should already be ample proof of the power of the tongue and of the effect of the words you speak.
Create By Speaking
Have you ever had the experience of being in a room where everybody is relaxed and just having a good time? Until one other individual enters the room. This person is really stressed out and angry. He starts barking out orders and is rude to everybody in the room. Have you ever experienced that? To the extent where you use the expression “the whole atmosphere in the room changed. The atmosphere got so thick and tense that you could feel it”.
For that same reason, why don’t we start creating a pleasant atmosphere wherever we go? Create an atmosphere that everybody wants to be in. We can do that by paying attention to what we say and how we say it.
What is your experience with words? Do you think before you speak, or do you sometimes find yourself thinking that you shouldn’t have said that? Are people taking you serious when you speak? Have you ever realized the effect that your words have on how you feel? Have you ever been hurt by someone else’s words?
Let’s talk about it in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from you.