Words create worlds. Yes, your words. Much like God, who created everything with words, you also have the power to create with yours. Your world, in fact, is a by-product of the words you tell yourself and the ones others tell you. Of course, only one physical world exists. But not everyone sees the same world. The world Jesus saw was radically different than the Pharisees, for example. Hitler’s world was radically different than Martin Luther King’s.
The same is true for you and me. We have the power to create the world we see with our words. We have the power to create the world other people see as well.
Words frame spaces.
Last weekend, Tiffani and I enjoyed a night without the kids. We enjoyed some high-end grub and returned home to watch a movie. Somewhere between the front door and the movie, Tiffani pulled up a video on her phone, one of the kids doing something funny. In this moment, I’m thankful for the two million photos piled on her phone.
One video wasn’t enough. We watched dozens, reminiscing on times forgotten. A fabulous time.
Like a great video or picture, your words frame your world. The same can be said of the words you allow into your heart and mind.
As a parent, I think about the world I frame for my kids. Is it one of hope and love? What about the picture I frame of God? Are my words communicating that God is for them, that he loves them not because of what they do but who they are? Because if you’re a parent, you can be sure of this. Your children are listening. Even when you think they aren’t.
You have the power to frame where you are right now. That meeting, the one you dread every week, you could choose not to listen to Debbie Downer (or stop being her), and instead, frame it a different way. That awful situation, terrible chronic illness or cancer, you can choose how you frame it. You can fill your mind with negative, self-defeating words. Or you could fill your mind with positive ones.
When circumstances appear hopeless, you can paint a picture of hope.
Words reveal character.
Jesus says your words flow from your heart. Your words reveal your character.
When I look back on different seasons in my life, the proof is in the pudding (whatever that means). In my early-to-mid 20s, most of my conversations were about sports and climbing the ladder. Vanity, that’s what they were.
Then, I encountered Christ, and my conversations changed. I still struggled with success and image and stuff, but as a whole, my words were different. I talked about Jesus more. I spoke more life-giving words, to myself and other. I was also more intentional about the words I allowed in as well.
When the desire of my heart changed, so did my words.
This is hard, I know. Jesus’ words are direct, and somewhat offensive. I feel the resistance. If you need some alone time, I’ll be here when you get back.
What do your words reveal about you? The ones you speak to your friends. The one you tell yourself. The ones you allow into your heart and mind. If you took all the words you’ve spoken in the last month and threw the totality of them into a word cloud or something, what themes would emerge? What would your previous month’s words reveal about the condition of your heart?
If you took inventory of your words, what would they say is most important in your life?
Quality always trumps quantity with words
So, if words are powerful, then more words equals more impact, right? This is silliness, of course. People who have a lot to say usually aren’t saying anything.
This is almost everything on social media, by the way. Social media isn’t all bad. But it’s essentially a place where people post their opinions about the President or the pastor’s sermon, but rarely is anyone actually saying anything.
A loose, busy tongue is a mark of immaturity.
You won’t find a good leader who talks a lot. You just won’t. You might find someone with loose lips who’s in charge, but not a leader. To influence people, you must listen and understand the power of silence, among other things. And great leadership is about influence, after all.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says this, “Do not be quick with your mouth…God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
Here’s a question.
When you pray, how much do you talk?
Do you ever listen or approach God with an Ecclesiastes perspective, one that’s more ears than mouth? I don’t like silence, I confess. But I also know that even a few minutes of silence changes me. Calms my heart. Quiets my mind. Stills my soul. I want to challenge you to sit in silence with God. No words. See what happens.
The power of words increases with proximity.
The closer you are to someone, the more impact your words have. My wife has the power to destroy me with her words. Fortunately, she respects me and loves the Lord. So, she chooses life when she speaks. I wouldn’t be where I am without her encouragement. She creates a world of hope and love in our home.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” If you’re married, if you have children, if you have friends you need to understand your words are shaping their world. Are you building up or tearing down?
Some words are better left unsaid (How often are people wounded by reactionary, emotion-driven words). Other times, words need to be spoken, particularly when those words are ones of encouragement.
When your spouse does something well, don’t assume she knows you’re thankful. Tell your kids you’re proud of them. Build them up. But don’t stop there. Think about someone you know who could use a word of encouragement. Don’t allow those words to die on the altar of good intentions. You never know, your kind words might create a new world for someone.
Too many encouraging, life-giving words die on the altar of good intentions.
Words are powerful. Use them to build up, inspire, encourage, challenge, and, if necessary, rebuke. But, don’t use them carelessly. Words create worlds.
Grace and peace, friends.
Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.