We’re just ordinary people (I am definitely singing that in my John Legend voice). But seriously, when we look in the mirror, it’s unlikely that we see our reflections as someone with the power to take over the world. Some of us don’t see a person with the strength to take on the day nevertheless combat the forces of everyday evil that come against us. We’ve decided to leave that to the Marvel® characters. But what if I told you there’s a superpower that we all have access to? Would it change your life? It sure changed mine!
Don’t worry there aren’t any pills to take or mantras to chant; it’s merely five letters that may redefine what you believe power is — words! Yes, that’s it. It’s the crime fighting, hate stopping, peacemaking, love provoking power of words.
We may not realize how essential words are to our existence, but they are the frame of our reality. Everything hangs upon them.
They Bring Our Ideas Into Existence
Have you ever had a moment where you had a great idea and just needed to get it out of your head? You get an urgent sense to jot it down on a sheet of paper, put in the notes on your phone, or give it to a friend in the form of discombobulated word vomit. And if you can’t deliver the idea to the receiver, you become crippled by frustration. In those moments when we can see a glimpse of how strong words can be. And why they are vital to birth our ideas.
They Can Build Us Up or Tear Us Down
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” — an extremely catchy lie.
I can imagine this thought being conceived by a protective mother, wanting to shield her child from the cruel realities of bullying. Or maybe a self-defense mechanism of a hopeless little one wanting to escape a moment of torment crafted by words. Whatever the case, this phrase has been the lie heard and repeated around the world. But it’s time for this untruth to be buried. The truth is words, may be the most damaging weapon on the planet.
They can also be one of the most helpful tools. A well placed, sincere compliment can make someone’s day, week, or even month. There have been times in my life when I was in a low place, feeling down on myself, and one compliment from the right person made the world of difference. That’s because every word spoken has the power to build up or tear down.
They Shape Our Perspective
One of my favorite quotes is “You want to set the mood, play music. You want to inspire the world, tell a good story.” I don’t know the originator of that idea, but it’s true. And I believe that’s because stories are like music to the soul. A well thought out string of words has the power to inspire us for years. Think of your favorite child time stories, whether you realized it or not, they were shaping the way you think.
So what’s the big deal? Words create, they inspire, they tear down, and they build. But that doesn’t make them our awesome secret superpower. Oh, but it does. The problem is we’ve been looking at them all wrong. We’ve used them as ways to communicate wrong ideas when we should be using them to create the future. We can create with our words [screen check], yes you read that correctly. Through words, we can transform culture. I struggled when I first heard it. There’s no way that my words can change the world. But they are the vehicle that allows our thoughts to become known. We can take on the biggest threats to our society through our words. But maybe, you’re like me, and think that’s way too big! Let’s start with our culture.
The Bible says that the power of life and death are in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21 NIV). Could it be that the words we use are not just bringing those judgments upon us physically but to every relationship, dream, or idea that we have? That’s scary stuff! But the good news is we can change the narrative. If we want to see a change, we must start changing the way we speak. So how do we transform our culture through words?
Guard Your Heart
From the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45 NIV)
We must protect what gets in our hearts because our mouth chooses its words from the places within. Our hearts must be clean to use our power effectively. When our motives are pure, our speech is also. One thing I like to do is take a pause and check on my heart. Did anything get in there that wasn’t supposed to be? Am I angry, worried, jealous, or anxious? And if I notice something there, I ask God to clean me out. Seriously, how can we speak life if our hearts are full of death?
Think Before You Speak
When we took a look at society, everything is shaped by the use of letters converged to convey an idea. But sometimes people don’t think before they speak and begin to create from a rash, irrational, or hurting place. Have you ever seen the toothpaste illustration about taking words back? When I was a child, we had this demonstration at a school seminar. They squeezed all the toothpaste out of the tube and called it words. Then they tried to force it back into the tube. It didn’t work. The point was we needed to be cautious of what we said, and the hurt they can cause other people. I think we’d all benefit in today’s society if we went back to that small lesson — thinking before we speak.
Build Your Vocabulary
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said “I can’t,” or put myself down out of habit. Somehow, even though I may have said small things like “my life is the worst,” “I can’t lose weight,” or “I suck at” at something I’d be surprised when those things appeared in my life. The power is literally in my tongue. So what do we do? We must build our faith vocabulary. We have to say what is truthful and loving in our speech, even to ourselves. Our kind words are healthy for our bodies (Proverbs 16:24 NIV). So instead of speaking things that are hurtful like “I suck” or “FML,” we should say “I am getting better at,” or “I am creating change.” It’s not an easy habit to break, but it’s well worth it.
Again, maybe we won’t change the world today. We might not even improve our lives today. But if we put these steps into practices continually guarding our hearts, thinking before we speak, and building our vocabulary, we will begin to see a significant change. Our lives will flourish, our confidence will rise, and our atmosphere will shift. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to take on the world with your new found superpower — the power of words!