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Our words are like ready soldiers, collected in our hearts and directed from our tongues. We wield them in a God-centered way, as well as for self-centered purposes. Sometimes our words build up the hearer, and other times, it tears them down with no plan to cooperate with the Lord in building them back up again.
We’re all guilty, so rather than thinking about how others have hurt you, the most profitable way to consider this podcast is to address the log in your eye while begging for the mercy and strength of God to help you to change the way you communicate (Matthew 7:3-5). And I will do similarly.
Your words come from your heart. Jesus could not be more explicit about this matter (Luke 6:43-45). One of the most effective ways to assess your spiritual condition is to evaluate the words you use.
It would be a fantastic leadership opportunity to enlist the input of those closest to you to help you think about your patterns of communication. Perhaps there are some ways that you need to change.
As you assemble your words and move them from your heart, they eventually march off your tongue to do what you intend them to do. You can direct your “soldiers” to the work of building up others, or you can weaponize them to tear down things that defame the name of the Lord.
Caveat – Both options—building up or tearing down—can be redemptive. Jesus used His words to build up others (encourage), and at other times, He was precise, direct, and surgical, as He sought to deconstruct and destroy the concepts and ideas that others were using to defame the name of the Lord.
Some folks believe that “niceness” should prevail all the time, in all contexts, and toward all people. And they interpret niceness as “extending grace” or not rocking the boat. They spiritualize their fears by saying we should be “nice.” Others believe that “you should mind your own business.” You must mind your business if you interpret “your business” as spreading God’s fame (Luke 2:49).
The most important concept to remember about communication is that God made all people in His image. Whether you’re talking to or about someone, that person is valuable.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).
With it, we bless our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so (James 3:9-10).
The second key to remember about how you communicate is that your speech must be redemptive. “Redemptive speech” implies that sometimes you have to share hard things with someone; it does not suggest you have to be mean about it. Wayne Mack communicated this concept to me during class when he said,
You can love me now and hate me later, or you can hate me now and love me later.
His point was that sometimes we are afraid of the displeasure from others so we say things that won’t stir their retaliation. This type of speech is spineless communication. We can be appropriate with our words, though they may bring discomfort to the hearer at the moment. But the chance of them loving you later is possible.
If you’re more guarded about your reputation or you’re a fearful person, you will manipulate them to like you today, but it will have no redemptive value in the future.
An excellent way for you to evaluate your communication is to think about different people in your life, whether in your real-world or cyber-world. Then assess yourself and them through the graphic in these Show Notes. The words in the graphic are green, gray, or red. There is only one “green word,” which is “encourage.”
The key to remember about “encouraging speech” is the word “redemptive.” You can switch those two words—encourage and redemptive—if it brings more clarity. E.g., being nice may “feel” encouraging, but it might not be redemptive. Saying hard things may not “feel” encouraging, but it is redemptive.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).