Our Words Matter
Dawn Hennessy

Our words are powerful and can encourage or discourage someone in a matter of seconds. A few poor choice words have the power to stick with someone for a lifetime. We can apologize. We can change our actions, but the words have been forever said.

Scripture tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” Proverbs 18:21a

Our words have the power to lift people up, make each other feel like they can take on a new day, or heal hurt wounds. Our children will bloom under our loving words. But if we are not careful with our words, they can destroy people and relationships in ways that take more than a simple fix.

Guarding our tongues on all occasions is wise, but we need to be even more careful when we are angry. An angry response to a spouse or child will never calm a fiery matter. I have often let a child storm off and not dealt with a situation immediately because we both needed to be in the right mindset before speaking. An outburst from a child in our house tends to have very little to do with us as parents and more about finding their place in the world around them. Whatever the issue was, it rarely causes the same emotional response later, especially when prayed over first. Instead of looking at bad reactions as an annoyance, I try to reframe my mindset to what kind of discussion this outburst might lead to. What kind of a heart issue is going on in their lives? How is God working in their lives, and what words can I say to point my child to Him?

The toddler/preschool world is a whole different kind of battlefield. It still requires us to be careful with our words, the tone of our words, and the timing of our words, but it is also impossible to wait for too long to address an issue. Although they require a much quicker response and words, remember that no one in a blind rage will hear us speaking. When my children were younger, I would take a couple of deep breaths, say a prayer, and go into what I called my extra calm mode while reminding myself this is not about me. Also, never underestimate the need for food or sleep for anyone upset – from baby through adulthood! Sometimes no matter how calming and loving our words are, they will not fix a tired, hungry child.

Not only do angry words hurt our children, but words said when teasing could also hurt. I love to be silly with my kids and have fun, but it is important to be careful about how or what I tease about. I try never to tease in areas that my children might be struggling with or are sensitive to. I don’t mind making light of something and trying to keep it fun, but words directed toward one specific person or struggle can hurt, even when said in fun. Also, teasing moments, which they might find funny at home, could be areas where they are extra sensitive in front of friends.

By far, the best use of our words is making sure those around us hear about God. Those around us might never have the chance to hear the good news if we never speak about who God is! As a parent, it is our responsibility to train up our children in the ways of the Lord. Our words, along with our actions, will guide our children in learning and growing in God! Scripture reminds us to continually talk about God and how to live a Christian life with our children, Deuteronomy 6:7, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Whenever we find ourselves less patient, more temperamental, or anxious, and we let ourselves say words we shouldn’t, we need to ask ourselves, where is our focus right now? Even with all the distractions of this world, our focus needs to remain on God! We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and our words might be an area of struggle for some more than others, but all of us will struggle even more with our words if we are not keeping ourselves in the right place with God. Matthew 12:34 reminds us, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Is the abundance of our hearts fixated on the things of this world, or are we keeping our eyes on God? Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him, making it easier for Godly character and the right words to come from our lives and mouths.

Let’s talk about it:

  1. Are our words encouraging to others or discouraging?
  2. Do others see God through our words and actions?
  3. Where is the focus of our hearts today?