“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Recently, I’ve been surrounded a lot by what it means to be a messenger of Jesus and what it looks like to be aware of the power of your words. It’s been blowing my mind the lack of awareness that people carry when they speak to people who don’t know them well.
For my current job, I work as a sales coordinator for a Christian media company, so in layman's terms I'm basically a telemarketer. So fun, I know. I spend about 80% of my day getting yelled at by secretaries and sometimes even pastors. It can feel really intense, especially when you’re a “words of affirmation” person, like I am. It gets really draining, but when you come across that one really nice person after every few hundred calls, It’s like a breath of fresh air.
Being a telemarketer makes you hyper aware of the effect of words, especially the ones exchanged in passing conversations. When I’m on a call, I get about 10 seconds to convince the secretary that I’m not a total nut job. So, because of this, I’ve become intensely aware of my limited interactions. In under a minute I have the chance to make someone's day better or worse. I have the opportunity to be a billboard for the love of Jesus in every moment.
I was in a job interview once, and I just started rambling--I turned to the guy who was interviewing and said “oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I’m such a rambler.” He responded, “that can be a good thing, because what if in your rambling you say something that impacts someone drastically.” That blew my mind.
Think about all the moments you’re sitting in a coffee shop listening to the people around you, you’re letting what they say impact you, more than you know. Our ramblings have the potential to inspire or discourage, to provoke thought or destroy ideals.
In the book of James, there are so many verses that speak about the power in the tongue.
“We all make many mistakes. If anyone does not make a mistake with his tongue by saying the wrong things, he is a perfect man. It shows he is able to make his body do what he wants it to do. We make a horse go wherever we want it to go by a small bit in its mouth. We turn its whole body by this. Sailing ships are driven by strong winds. But a small rudder turns a large ship whatever way the man at the wheel wants the ship to go.
The tongue is also a small part of the body, but it can speak big things. See how a very small fire can set many trees on fire. The tongue is a fire. It is full of wrong. It poisons the whole body. The tongue sets our whole lives on fire with a fire that comes from hell. Men can make all kinds of animals and birds and fish and snakes do what they want them to do. But no man can make his tongue say what he wants it to say. It is sinful and does not rest. It is full of poison that kills. With our tongue we give thanks to our Father in heaven. And with our tongue we speak bad words against men who are made like God. Giving thanks and speaking bad words come from the same mouth. My Christian brothers, this is not right! Does a well of water give good water and bad water from the same place? Can a fig tree give olives or can a grape-vine give figs? A well does not give both good water and bad water.”
To be honest, I’m not the best at being insanely careful with my words, my friends and family can attest to this, but they love me despite--THANK YOU JESUS. Things slip out and words I try to say get fumbled in translation--communication is hard. Our subconscious has more of an impact on reality than we realize. Without thinking we form opinions about our limited interactions and small experiences. Isn’t that absolutely terrifying and empowering at the same time? Like I was saying above, we have the power to demolish or build. We get to change the world with every word we speak, whether we realize it or not. We’re carrying the power of influence, we’re all basically mini Super Heroes if you think about it.
I know I’m basically talking in circles but hey, repetition is more beneficial than you know, and it just solidifies the power of words. Next time you find yourself in a moment that could be pivotal, speak life, always. Even if you don’t want to, even if it takes everything inside you to hold your tongue--it’s going to be hard, but knowing you might’ve made someone's day better is so worth it.