• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

The impact of words

We can say that we know the impact that words can have on others, but our actual practice of speaking to one another often reveals how much we underestimate that influence. Words are powerful conveyors not only of important messages, but also of honor, value and worth. Most of the examples that might come to mind are of the hurt or pain that words can cause.  Yet, there are other examples of how words build up, value or challenge another for the good. Power-of-words-front1

Paul in his letter to his spiritual son, Timothy, wrote this: “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight.”  (1 Timothy1:18)  Those ‘prophecies’ or ‘prophetic words’ refer to divinely charged words or statements shared with another. They are often the fruit of prayerful meditation and time taken before speaking.

I’m sure that many of us can remember, even state, the words spoken that influenced us towards ministry, and towards cross cultural ministry. Reflecting on those times when others spoke those ‘divinely charged words’ into our lives, emboldens us to have that same approach or attitude towards others.

A fellow co-worker shared this quote with me one time: “I have been trying to evolve an ecology of speech, a way with words that is hospitable to life. This includes learning to talk and to be silent at the right times and places, being careful to remember the capacity of words to have an afterlife once they have fallen into the soil of our own or other people’s lives.  Do they create a fertile, balanced humus in which new life can germinate and flourish?

We may not readily identify with the image or metaphor, but that statement about ‘remembering the capacity of words to have an afterlife’ should resonate in our spiritual ears.  What words do we want to have ‘linger’ in the minds of others?  What do we want to leave with a colleague after a difficult conversation?  What do we want an interested future worker to remember who shares their heart for a particular people group?

Remembering what others have ‘said to us’, may help us reflect more deeply and prayerfully on what we should say to others.

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