Jonathan's Perspective  

Jul 11

'The Power of Words'

We all know that 'sticks and stones...' is a lie.  Our language deeply affects those around us.  You can probably remember a time in your childhood when a parent or a friend said something really nice to you that gave you a sense of identity and meaning.  You can probably also remember someone who betrayed you with angry words or said something about you behind your back.  Often-times it is the words that we don't think much about that have the most lasting impact.  The fact is that words have incredible power.  Proverbs clearly states the choice we have: 'The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.' (Prov 10:11) God calls us to use our words to bring life, encouragement and growth to those around us.  However, if we are not intentional about becoming a person who speaks life, we will revert to our default of using our words for our own good and to defend ourselves, often at the expense of others.

In our house we have always made it a point to eat together as a family.  However, that has not always been pleasant.  When the boys were in junior high and Abigail in elementary school, they went at each other, verbally sparring and trying to push each other's buttons.  I finally had enough.  I pulled out the Bible - they knew that was a bad sign - and had them memorize Proverbs 12:18: 'Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.'  We talked about what it meant, and how it might change the way they spoke to each other.  Later, whenever conversation turned ugly and feelings were hurt, I would ask them what Proverbs said.  They would all repeat it, and, on a good day, apologize to one another. 

Our homes are smaller, more controllable environments.  Out in the business world it can be much tougher.  Too often we work with people who are self-centered, looking after their own advancement and dealing with their own problems.  They can be gruff, short, and downright mean at times.  So what is the appropriate response?  If we can't fight fire with fire, what do we do?  Paul encourages us to use our speech to 'build others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.' (Eph 4:29)  Instead of shooting from the hip with angry defensive words, you might ask some questions before you speak.  What does this person need to succeed in their task?  What insight could help them mend or strengthen a relationship?  What value or principle does a person need to be reminded of so they can put it into practice and build stronger character?  Once you have answered these questions, your words will be a 'fountain of life' and you will be able to build others up. 

A wise man in the Air Force once said to me, 'Take care of your people, and they will take care of you.'  This is so true.  I encourage you to take care of your family and colleagues with your words.  You will find that you are creating an environment in which people take care of one another.

Blessed to be a blessing,



 Dr. Jonathan Beck

1201 Metairie Rd.,

Metairie, LA 70005


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