A few weeks ago, my daughter-in-law, Caroline, did something I thought was genius.
Most of you know that I’m a proud Gigi to three-year-old Tripp and his baby brother, Lawson. Well, first, I overheard Caroline say to Tripp, “I’m so proud of you because you obeyed Mommy.” Then, a little later, I heard her tell him, “Tripp, I’m proud of you because you were nice to your brother.”
Did you hear what she did there!?
Caroline didn’t merely stop at “I’m proud of you,” but she associated Tripp’s good behavior with it. While there’s no doubt in that cute little boy’s mind that his mom loves him unconditionally, he still needs the verbal affirmation and encouragement that something he did made her smile—and that’s precisely what Caroline gave him!
What I think is also interesting is that this need for encouragement doesn’t change as we grow up.
I realized this as, not long after, I found myself doing the same thing with my adult son—who is Tripp and Lawson’s daddy. We were at the lake together, and I said to him, “You know what? I am so proud of you because of the way you love your wife. You are so good to her.”
Friend, those around us have the need for positive, life-giving words whether they’re three years old or thirty years old. Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to us. They echo in peoples’ hearts and minds long after they are spoken.
So, how can you harness this incredible power for good? On this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, author Sharon Jaynes is here to help us learn how!
Sharon is an international inspirational speaker and Bible teacher for women’s conferences and events. She is also the author of several books, including Becoming the Woman of His Dreams, The 14-Day Romance Challenge, and The Power of a Woman’s Words. Sharon and her husband, Steve, call North Carolina home.
So, listen in and discover how your words can change the course of someone’s day and even their life. Plus, you’ll learn practical tips and doable ways to get a handle on your tongue and harness the power of your words.
3 Ways to Think Before You Speak
- Be aware of the power of your words. Sharon knows firsthand the power words have to either build someone up or tear them down. Growing up in a dysfunctional and alcoholic home, she often heard, “You can’t do anything right!” or “What’s wrong with you?” and remembers thinking, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it’s something. I’m just not as good as everybody else.” She says that her parents had so many struggles of their own that she doesn’t think they realized the impact their words had on their children.
One way you can think before you speak is to be aware of the power your words have on others. Words often become the mirrors in which other people see themselves—and that’s true whether something is good, bad, true, or false. The words that you speak can cause them to think a certain way about who they are and their circumstances. Your words can encourage someone to run forward or hold someone back. They can speak life into someone or suck the life right out of them.
Once you’re aware, Sharon says, you can learn to be more sensitive to how your words impact others. One way to do this is to think about how other people’s words have impacted you. For example, if you’re the parent of an adult child, think about what you want to hear from your parents. Reflect on the words that your parents have said to you that have hurt or bothered you—and make sure you’re not repeating those words to your adult child.
- Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help you. When Sharon’s son Steven was younger, she remembers taking him to an amusement park. Because she dislikes theme parks, Sharon found herself thinking, “I’m such a good mom. I don’t think Steven knows what a good mom I am, so I’m going to tell him.” But, prior to this, she’d been praying regularly for the Lord to help her with her words. So, before she could speak, the Holy Spirit stopped her, prompting her to think about whether Steven would feel lucky if she said that. She realized he wouldn’t. He would feel guilty and as if he owed her something. So, instead, she told him, “Steven, I’m so lucky to have a son like you to bring to a place like this.”
You too can allow the Holy Spirit to convict you before and after you say something. This starts by praying as Sharon did. One possible prayer is: “Lord, I’m having trouble with my words. Help me and stop me before something comes out of my mouth that might be hurtful to someone.” Then, when you feel the nudge not to speak, be willing to obey it.
If you do make a mistake and say something hurtful, be quick to apologize. You can stop right then and say, “I’m so sorry that came out of my mouth. That’s not what I meant to say.” You can follow it up by correcting it and saying something that builds the other person up.
- Practice speaking positive words. In addition to prayer, Sharon says it’s important to practice speaking life-giving words to others. Sharon experienced the blessing of this as an adolescent when she started spending time at her friend Wanda’s house. Sharon noticed that Wanda’s family was different because of their relationship with Jesus. Wanda’s mom used her words to encourage Sharon. She’d say things like, “Great job!” “Oh, I love how you fixed your hair today!” and “You look so cute in that dress!” Eventually, she was the one who led Sharon to Christ.
Speaking positive words instead of negative words doesn’t come naturally for a lot of us, though. If that’s you, how can you start practicing? Begin by making a list of negative words you’ve heard that you don’t want anyone to say to you. It could be hurtful statements such as, “You’re driving me crazy!” or “You’re always in a bad mood!” or “You don’t love me. If you loved me, you wouldn’t have done that!” Next, make a list of positive words you long to hear. These might include, “You make my day brighter!” or “I love spending time with you!” or “I’m so glad you’re my friend!” Then, start using the positive ones when you talk to others.
There are also two super practical exercises Sharon suggests. The first is to put a rubber band on and make it tight. When you say something negative, you pop that rubber band and make sure it hurts. The second is if you find yourself being negative, put five pennies in your right pocket. Every time you say anything encouraging to someone throughout the day, move a penny to your left pocket. You’ll not only be practicing, but you’ll also be more aware of what you’re saying as you’re making an effort to say something positive.
Friend, you can think before you speak. You can recognize, reject, and then replace with truth because you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies for Young Women: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
- Me, Myself, & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover Bible Study
More from Sharon Jaynes
- Sharon’s website
- The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others
- Enough: Silencing the Lies That Steal Your Confidence
- When You Don’t Like Your Story: What If Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories?
- Follow Sharon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram