How often do we really think about what we speak? Are we careful with our words or do we speak without really realizing what is coming out of our mouths?
Does it matter?
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Our words do matter. A lot.
We have the power to speak life or death to ourselves and to our children. We can build one another up or tear one another down very easily with mere words. In our culture the emphasis on what we say has been lost and the chatter is deafening. People speak to simply be heard, forgetting to listen and hardening their hearts towards the power of their words. A thousand years ago when someone said, “You have my word” it was as if they’d signed a legal document. It could be trusted. Now we have so many legal documents for every little oath, and no one puts much weight on those papers anymore either.
Remember the old childhood rhyme from the playground? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s a clever little rhyme but so untruthful. Words do hurt. Words can be abusive. Words can tear a person down until there’s nothing left of them.
But words can also encourage, build up and bring one to a point of believing the unbelievable. With our words, we as home school parents can help our children believe in their full potential. We can encourage them to believe they can do math, or they can get the right answer. We can speak to them in such a way as to bring healing when they’ve been hurt by a sibling or friend. We can tell them truth from God’s Word that never returns void.
We have experienced the power of words recently in our home. One of my seven children is more difficult than the rest, and I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that I was ‘calling things as they were’. What’s wrong with that, you may wonder. By constantly telling her, and letting the others hear, that she was difficult, naughty, stubborn, I was relaying to her my expectations of her. And of course, she lived up to it. But when I was convicted of this and began to deliberately speak words of encouragement and what could be to her I began to see a change. Instead of ‘calling things as they were’ I began to ‘call things as I knew they could be’.
For instance, instead of telling her she was stubborn, I would tell her how nicely I knew she knew how to play with her siblings. I would point out how well she could share and how well she knew how to listen and obey and show her younger siblings how to do the right thing. I made sure the other kids heard it as well and I began to be careful how I spoke to them too.
It’s been a few weeks and there has been this amazing ripple effect. Not only is she calmer, quicker to obey and gentler with her siblings, but her siblings are more willing to play with her now. One of her brothers and her rarely got along and now I often catch them playing games together and good naturedly teasing each other. I never expected a few simple words to do so much.
A book that has been a great resource for this concept is God’s Creative Power for Healing by Charles Capps. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m grateful to the Lord for his prompting and his faithfulness in keeping his promises.
We all have the opportunity to speak life into someone today? What will you say?