Let me start this blog with an obvious statement. We are living in some uncertain times. Whether it be in the politics of our government, of our employment, or our church, we are living in a time that is crying out for leaders who are trustworthy, compassionate, stable, and hope-filled. As a leader, you have the opportunity and responsibility to model the character and action needed to come through such a time as this.
One of the tools you have, as you step into this leadership opportunity, is your word(s).
I know that sounds strange, but you are only as good as your word. Your followers need a leader they can trust. They are looking for a leader who speaks with hope and compassion as well as a leader who puts words into action. This very day, you have the opportunity to model the character and action needed not only by what you say but how you say it.
Your Words Shape Worlds
Whether you believe it or not, words create images and assumptions that shape the way people view one another, your community, and even God. You can use words to encourage and build up as well as discourage and tear down. Words feed prejudices, cultivate relationships, and set the course for decision-making. You have a powerful tool in your toolbox.
So, just as you think about your words when giving a speech or delivering a sermon, and you weigh your words when writing an article or a letter, it is important to pick your words wisely when leading a group, teaching a class, or in casual conversation.
Do Not Use Harmful Words
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul wrote, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that builds up and provides what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (TEV)
The church in Ephesus was a diverse church.
Because of its diversity, there was a conflict of values. The Jews, who had a deep ethical background, were people who lived with religious values. The Gentiles, who did not have the same background or heritage, had a different set of values. I can imagine there were times when the two sets of values clashed and created tension.
In a time of conflict, Paul was instructing the church to say kind, supportive, encouraging words. When you open your mouth, do not let evil talk come out. Don’t diss one another. Say only what is useful for building up as there is need so that your words may give grace to those who hear. The teaching is like Jesus saying, “it is not what goes in but what comes out that defiles…”
Conflict and Words
Although she is writing about more than words, Brene Brown writes, “In times of uncertainty, it is common for leaders to leverage fear and weaponize it to their advantage…If you can keep people afraid and give them an enemy who is responsible for their fear, you can get people to do just about anything.”
Brown also says, “…when we are managing during times of scarcity or deep uncertainty, it is imperative that we embrace the uncertainty…We need to be available to fact-check the stories that team members may be making up, because in scarcity we invent worse case scenarios.”
Your words are powerful. Simply by what you say and how you say it, you can create fear and uncertainty. By what you say and how you say it, you can also reflect the love you have experienced in and through Jesus.
God’s Word of Love
I think of this way: God’s word of love and grace was made real in Jesus. So, Jesus is God’s encouraging word to us. As a Jesus follower, it makes sense to me that our words would reflect that same love and grace. That our words would be words of kindness, compassion, and encouragement.
So, just as in Jesus, we find the embodiment of God’s love and grace, the people we lead should have the same love and grace in us. Remember, it is Jesus who said, “it is not what goes in but what comes out that defiles…”
Your Next Step
This week take the time to do the following:
1. Allow God’s Word, Jesus, to take up residence in your life.
2. Think of someone who needs a good word. A word of encouragement. A word of care and support.
3. Then, either through email, text, phone call, etc. become a word of love and grace, a word of encouragement and care through the words you speak. When you do, it will be Jesus who comes out.
You Are Only As Good as Your Word
Remember, you are only as good as your word. Who you are is how you lead.
When you need and want assistance, remember that Sara Thomas and I are with you on your leadership journey. When we can be of encouragement or help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are ready to assist you with insights and resources in becoming a courageous leader.
Check out LeaderCast. This week Sara Thomas and I are 71 Ways to Add Play to Your Day. We don’t discuss all 71. We don’t even read them to you. But we do have fun discussing several of them as a way of adding play to your daily living. Tune in and listen to Episode 188: 71 Ways to Add Play to Your Day. To become a regular LeaderCast listener, subscribe and receive a new episode each week as well as catch up on past episodes. LeaderCast is one resource you will want to have as you navigate the leadership challenges of 2021.