I was at a place of business the other day making my purchases and as I rounded an isle I noticed what seemed to be a manager chewing out an employee. As this poor girl was being berated with harsh tones and what seemed to me to be not constructive criticism but more venting of frustration, I felt for her. You could tell she was holding back tears and I saw her whole demeanor and body slump in insecurity, shame, and worthlessness. Wow, with just a few words this manager inflicted some deep pain.
As I said a little prayer for her and the manager I came upon another use of words, but this one was very different. An older gentleman was obviously mentoring a younger apprentice in the skills of this area of the business. The mentor was full of affirmation at the trainee’s attempts, even when the trainee made major mistakes. The correction was clear, honest, with good explanation why it is important to get it right, all the while the mentor was encouraging the trainee and believing in him. The trainee was eager to do his best and you could see on his face that each word of encouragement breathed more confidence, worth, and energy into him.
As I headed out the store, I first though how if I worked in this store I would want to work for that nice manager who’s words were life giving and inspiring, not the harsh manager who’s words were devaluing and deflating. I also thought of my use of words and the power words have, especially words at work. That old phrase of ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is just not true.
The Bible is clear…
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 15:1-2 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
As well read sometimes James 3:2-10 as it explains that the tongue (our words) are a fire that can set the whole course of life on fire! Words matter and words can greatly affect us and others, especially the people that we live and work with, so we ought to be careful and guarded with this power we have in our words.
Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 21:23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
We are use our words well and especially as we are on the job
Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
‘Unwholesome’ means those words that tear down and seek to inflict unhelpful pain…
Colossians 3:8 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
The words we should us are those that build up, edify, affirm…sure correction when needed, but always in the air of love, kindness and grace. The reality is we are accountable for our words
Matthew 12:36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.
So we are to think before we speak and choose carefully our words, for our words matter and they do a work. If you are a boss or a parent or a teacher or mentor or a leader…or a manager, our words tend to be heard at a louder volume and so extra caution is required (read James 3:1 and let those words soak in).
As well, we need to examine our own heart for as Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that our mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. What is your heart full of? Love, frustration, grace, anger, peace, self, care, kindness, joy? This is key.
I know for me I want my words to be more like that life-giving mentor and not like that devaluing manager. But sometimes I am not careful…this was a good reminder for me, and I hope for you as well as we all consider our words at work.
Seeking to carefully bless others along with you with the work of my words,
PS By the way thank you for your kind words, comments, and ‘likes’ (from those who view this on Facebook) you have given regarding these weekly posts, they have been ‘apples of gold in settings of sliver.’