On tonight’s blog Kara discusses the power of speaking life to others.
Lately I have been strongly convicted about the power of words. Not necessarily even within the context of art, but in daily interactions. I recently saw an article on Facebook which I thought expressed excellently many of the truths I have noticed with regards to this topic. The article is entitled “Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse is So Important.”
I should clarify that this article is not only valuable within the context of marriage, but in any kind of professional or personal interaction. The same truths apply—you get back what you encourage in the other person. Whether that be a co-worker, a teacher, a friend, or a family member, if you are constantly harping on the person’s faults, that is all you will show them about themselves, and soon perhaps, all they will see—and all you will see. I’m not sure which position of the two is more miserable.
In my junior year of college I took a conducting class that lasted two semesters. I wasn’t the best conducting student, and I knew it. As a pianist who hadn’t sat under many batons, I finished my assignments passably enough to get a good grade…no more than that. Something changed in my second semester, however. I remember stepping up on the podium for the first time to actually conduct a group of my peers forming a “mini-orchestra” during class. I finished the piece and stepped down, expecting to receive the usual “that’s fine, just be a little clearer with your beat pattern and cues” comment that usually accompanied my attempts. However, this time, my professor looked not at me, but at the rest of the class. “Did you see that?” he said. “She got your attention before she started.” He turned to me. “I saw it in their faces,” he said. “They WANTED to play for you. Your beat pattern might not have been the clearest, but you got a better sound out of them than any of the others.
That one comment completely changed my entire perspective about conducting. From then on in my mind I was not the shy pianist who knew nothing about conducting, but a musician who could command the attention of a group of instrumentalists. From then on my conducting assignments were not a bore, but an exciting challenge.
This is the power that words can have. I am not suggesting at all that one should lie to make other people feel good, nor that one should ignore the faults of others when it is in one’s power to help them overcome them. There is a time for calling people out on sin. I am not saying “positive thinking and affirmations” are the cure to every problem. However, I do think that our culture’s habit of negatively and sarcastically focusing on the qualities in others that we don’t like is extremely detrimental to producing the qualities that we would like to see. We reap what we sow with our words. It doesn’t take much to sow something worth reaping! A small word of encouragement, a sincere praise to balance out a constructive criticism, these things have the power to completely alter a person’s attitude and direction. Not only that, but if we accustom ourselves to searching out these positive qualities in others, we will be much slower to attack and criticize when something does go wrong.
I would encourage everyone to think seriously about their speech patterns—towards others and towards themselves. Words are powerful. Even God spoke the universe to life. Christ, the Word of God, is the life and light of men. Let us make sure that our words also lead to Life.