“Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse” (Job 4:4, The Message)
I’ve heard Joe Stowell speak many times. In his book, “The Weight of Your Words,” Stowell tells the following story: “My junior high school had scheduled its annual theater production which included some opera-style songs. Talented students were quick to try out for the various parts. I was not so certain of my abilities and had decided that singing in an opera wasn’t really for me. Then Mrs. Wilson, my music teacher, asked me to try out. It was not a coveted role, but it did have three solos. I am certain that my audition was only mediocre. But Mrs. Wilson reacted as if she had just heard a choir of heavenly angels. “Oh, that was just beautiful. It was perfect. You are just right for the role. You will do it, won’t you?” I accepted. When the time came for the next year’s opera performance, most of the students who had played the leads the year before had graduated. And Mrs. Wilson had transferred to another school. In her place was a rather imposing figure who had an excellent singing voice and a sound knowledge of music theory. As tryouts began, I was ready. I felt confident that my talent was just what our school’s operetta needed. With approximately 150 of my peers assembled, I knew everything would go well. But if I live for an eternity I will never forget the words spoken on that day. When my audition was completed, the teacher asked, “Who told you that you could sing?” I felt totally destroyed. Harsh words are bad enough under any circumstances. To a young idealistic boy, they can be devastating. From the time those seven words were stated, it took eight years and coaxing from my fiancée before my voice was raised in song again.”
The words we speak are not just simply sounds caused by air passing through our larynx. Our spoken words have amazing power—words either destroy people or build up people. When the Old Testament man who suffered much, Job, sought wisdom for his problems, one of his friends, Eliphaz, said to Job: “Your words have put stumbling people on their feet, put fresh hope in people about to collapse” (Job 4:4, The Message. Job knew how to use his spoken words well.
For many years I have tried to let the teaching of a Bible verse, Ephesians 4:29 guide my speech: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” The word foul in the verse refers to rotting fruits and vegetables. We should not heap those kinds of words on anyone.
Audrey Marlene, a life coach, suggests a variety of ways we might use our spoken words to encourage others, just as Ephesians 4:29 tells us to do.
- Pay a genuine compliment or a kind word to someone who crosses your path.
- Say something nice to build someone’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Your power of words can encourage and motivate someone by saying “you did a good job.”
- Say words of comfort to someone sad or grieving.
- Use your words to admit when you were wrong.
- Use your words to say “I’m sorry”
- Don’t forget to say “Thank You”
- Use your words to show appreciation
- Use your words to show respect for others.
- Say thing funny to make someone smile and brighten up their day.
- Use your words to help that special someone in your life feel secure with your love.
- Use your words to speak to God from your heart to give thanks for the blessing in your life.
- Use your words to praise your child for their efforts.
- Say words to let your children know what a gift they are to you.
Let the power of your spoken words be used by God to bring hope and encouragement to others.