The Correct Use of Words

“A word is dead, when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” (Emily Dickinson)

Words have incredible power. Imagine walking into an empty room. Standing alone in that room, if you say one word (for example, “Hello”), then that word echoes back to you from the edges of the room, bouncing back and forth across the room until silence once more settles into place. Now that word had the power to change the atmosphere of an empty room. Now imagine yourself walking into a room where someone else was standing, the word “Hello” has an ability to connect you into the life and story of that person. Words have tremendous power.

Lessons from the Past

Think of some of the great quotes from history:

“I have a dream” (Martin Luther King)

“Never, never, never give up.” (Winston Churchill)

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)

These powerful words did not just echo across a room, but indeed have echoed across nations. They have impacted the course of history. We could equally quote a whole ream of words that have negatively impacted individual lives and nations.

Our Mouths

I have once again been struck by the power of the words that we speak. In Proverbs 18:20-21 we read: “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue; and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

This scripture indicates that from the fruit of our mouth and the yield of our lips we are satisfied. This implies that we need to be careful about what fruit is coming out of our mouth and from our lips. As the said verse indicates, death and life are in the power of our tongue. What words are coming out of your mouth? What words are echoing across the rooms that you walk into today? Are you satisfied by what you are saying?

Applying Words to our Personal Lives

If we apply this to our personal lives, what words are we speaking into the lives of others? Is our tongue delivering words of death or life, despair or hope? Are our words inspiring dreams or are they breaking down hope? I am challenged afresh every day to think very carefully about the words that I speak, hopefully bringing life like a stream of living water.

We must learn to bridle our tongues, being careful as to what we say, that we never speak amiss, to God’s dishonour or our neighbours prejudice. We must be upright and sincere in everything we say, and not double-tongued. Our words are always the best indicators of our minds and hearts.

Applying Words to the Marketplace

In the marketplace, we often encounter the poison of ‘wrath’, which is an “outburst of passion.” These explosive outbursts of anger are customary to those with “bad tempers”, and sadly there are just too many of these individuals in the marketplace. These violent eruptions of temper are unacceptable. Most often, the angry words which are spoken at such times are regretted, and often do great damage to relationships.

Our business should be a river that brings life into our particular industry, sowing seeds of potential rather than being harbingers of death? Sometimes we do need to speak words of correction and rebuke, but these words should in the end build up and not break down if they come from the right heart.

AlanlouisPicAbout the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity as a child. Awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ultra Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the trials and successes of commerce for 3 decades.

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