by Gege Sugue
Booming Voice: Let there be light! (Turn on lights.)
With 4 little words, the world began. Such is the power of words.
We do not have to be God to wield words of power. Every day, mortals like us speak words that have the power to make things happen, to change our lives and the lives of others.
One of the richest, wisest kings who ever walked the earth once said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov 18:21) The words of our mouth have the power to kill and the power to give life.
Take the story of Kate Couric, CBS evening news anchor and managing editor. In fourth grade, a teacher scolded her in front of the class and told her in disgust, “Katie, you smile too much.” Those words embarrassed her and almost killed the spirit behind that smile. She carried those words and the unease in her mind and her heart the whole day. It’s a good thing that that night, she was able to talk to her father who uttered words that she would remember for the rest of her life. Her father said, “Just use her words to your advantage.” And so she followed her father’s advice. When she ran for student council presidency, she started her speech by saying, “Hello. My name is Katie Couric. People wonder why I am always smiling. It’s because I am happy. Happy to go to such a wonderful school. Yes, Jamestown is a wonderful school and I’d like to keep it that way.” Her father’s words gave life to Katie Couric’s dreams.
Even as an adult, Katie remembered her father’s words. These words have helped her time and again throughout her life. And now, as the first female solo anchor of a major TV network evening newscast in the United States, she certainly has a lot more to smile about.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our words have power. Think back to when you were a kid, playing and running around. And your mom would shout, Oh, you’re going to fall! And true enough a minute later, you will be down on your knees. The power of words.
Before we set about doing anything, we always verbalize it first. We tell ourselves or someone else, “I’m going to have the cheeseburger.” Or I’m going to have a haircut this weekend.” “I’m going to bungee jump.” I’m going to marry this woman.” “No matter how busy I am, I’m going to prepare this speech and deliver 1 speech a month so I can be a Competent Communicator by yearend.” “I’m going to sit here and mope because I’m depressed.” Chances are, we will do exactly what we say we’ll do.”
The apostle James compared our tongue to the little rudder that directs a big ship. The words we say will determine the direction and orientation of our lives. The power of our words can bring us to the next level of success or limit us from getting anywhere, or worse, even doom us to failure. So watch your words. If you keep telling yourself, you’re a loser, then you can bet on it – you will lose. As for me, I start my days saying, “I can do everything through Christ who is in me. I work hard. I do what is right. I work as if I work for God, not for men, and so I will succeed. God will bless the works of my hands.” When I am confronted with problems that seem overwhelming, I tell myself that Jesus has overcome the world, and He has given me the power to overcome. I will overcome.”
To win in life, even against all odds, we have to use the power of words.
Now, how about the words we speak to others? How can we enable others to win in life as well?
I propose the ACE formula. ACE is the acrostic for the 3 steps to help others with our words. A is Affirmation. C is for Correction. E stands for Encouragement.
Affirmation means simply a declaration of truth. Correction is the act of pointing out errors so the person will not do them again. And encouragement means inspiring others with courage.
Let me demonstrate an example. Let’s say, my friend XXX is an excellent speaker, but I hate it that she always uses the word irregardless, which is a not a word at all, for it has double negative pronouns. Using the ACE approach, I can start with affirmation. XXX, you know, I really liked your speech the other night. I like the way you organized your ideas and I love the passion you have for your topic. I think you have what it takes to be a competitor for the next speech contest. There is one word, though, that you use that really bothers me. When you use the word, irregardless, I find it hard to concentrate on the rest of your speech. And I’m afraid that other people in the audience, especially the judges, might feel the same way. The correct word is “regardless.” If you can overcome that minor language glitch, I think you’ll do very well. I encourage you to keep practicing because I believe that you will be able to inspire others with your passion and your drive for excellence.”
This ACE approach uses the power of positive words to help others win in life.
On the other hand, we can also abuse the power of the words we use. To remember the words
that can damage or kill lives and spirits, I devised an acrostic – LOSER. L stands for lies. No one wins when the truth is misrepresented. O represents Offensive Language. When we use curse words, when we use sexist, racist, prejudicial words, we hurt instead of help. S stands for slander, which is the act of speaking against others. Yes, it is still slanderous even if it is the truth, when our objective is to kill the reputation of others. E is Envy. Envious words are counterproductive. The success of others should not make us bitter, but should instead inspire us to do even better. And R means Reviling, which is synonymous to Insulting. By reviling someone, we are murdering somebody’s dreams and self esteem. When we lie, speak offensively, slander, envy, and revile others, we abuse the power of words.
So, let me recap the 3 points of my speech. First point is that our words carry tremendous power – the power of life and death. The second point is that words have the power to make us and others win in life. The third point is that we can abuse the power of words when we use them to bring other people down and kill their dreams and self worth.
As a closing thought, I believe that words are outward manifestation of what is in our hearts. Jesus, who is the Word made flesh, teaches us in the book of Luke that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. If we are just mouthing positive words, we are just being hypocritical, and we will soon run out. But if our hearts overflow with affirmation and encouragement, then our mouths will be speaking words of power. How do we fill our hearts?
With God’s Words. Psalm 19 says that God’s Word is perfect, reviving the soul; trustworthy, making the simple wise. His Words are right, giving joy to the heart. They’re radiant, giving light to the eyes.
With this book in your hand, and God’s words in your heart, we can win in life. (darkness) With this book in your hand, and God’s words in your heart, even in the darkest of hours, there will be light. (flashlight effect)
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