How to carefully choose your words in ministering to others

By Stan Toler

“Could I have a word with you?”

Often that phrase invokes panic? What will be said, and how will it affect my life? Words are powerful whether texted through a cell phone or delivered from a platform. In one sense, they have a mind of their own. Once released from our mouth, they go where they want to go and accomplish what they want to accomplish—either good or bad.

I’m reminded of the wife who stood before a judge to explain why she pulled the trigger of a shotgun that made her a benefactor to her husband’s estate. When the judge asked her to explain her actions, she told him that the couple had been in an ugly argument that had culminated in a stand-off, with her holding a shotgun.

She said her husband shouted, “Go ahead and pull the trigger; you couldn’t hit Niagara Falls if you were standing in front of it!” The judge replied, “I would think that would be the last thing he would say!” The newly-widowed plaintiff said, “It was, your honor, it was!”

What’s your last word? Hopefully it will be an encouraging word. These days, words that build are far more important than words that demolish.  Certainly you can ignite passions and causes with words, but you can also use them to heal and to affirm.

The biblical character, Barnabas, was known as an encourager. That speaks to me of one who chose his words and actions carefully, and always for the good of others.

You are going to give a speech. Let your audience know:

  • You care.
  • You understand their struggle.
  • You are working with them on solution.

The novelist Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey wrote, “Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into others’ lives and I come back to my own with greater contentment.”


Copyright © 2012 by Stan A. Toler

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