Words Create Worlds: Some Thoughts On The Power Of Words
You’re an artist. Did you know that? You’re created to create. It’s in your DNA. You might hate the word “artist.” That’s fine. What about composer, producer, maker, developer, architect, or mastermind? Any of those work? Still no? Well, you have an ego problem. Come up with your own word, then. It doesn’t change the reality, you’re a creator.
How so? In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But everything so still dark. So, God said, “Let there be light,” and with this declaration, life as we know was set in motion.
Now everything comes full circle. You’re created by God, the one who creates everything from nothing. Maybe you failed elementary art like I did. Maybe you’re a threat to everyone around you with a tool in your hand. Maybe you would rather listen to Nickelback’s greatest hits than write a blog post like this one. Look, I get it. But that’s not what I mean when I say you’re a creator.
Whether you’re good with a paintbrush or not, you’re creating right now, with your words.
Words create worlds. Yes, your words. Much like God, who created everyone and everything with words, you also have the power to create with yours. The world you trod around in right now is the by-product of the words you tell yourself and the ones others tell you. Of course, only one physical world exists. But not everyone sees the same world. The world Jesus saw was radically different than the Pharisees, for example. Hitler’s world was radically different than Martin Luther King’s.
The same is true for you and me. We have the power to create the world we see with our words. We have the power to create the world other people see with our words.
Words frame spaces
My wife, Tiffani, has at least two million pictures on her phone. Maybe more. Me, not so much. I think like should be enjoyed, not captured. Or maybe I’m cynical, I don’t know.
But there are times I run across a pic in her phone that reminds me of some previous season I had long forgotten. And in those moments, I’m thankful for her over-abundance of photos.
Like a great picture, your words create a portrait of your world. The same can be said of the words you allow into your heart and mind.
As a parent, I think about the world I frame for my kids. Is it one of hope and love? What about the picture I frame of God? Are my words communicating that God is for them, that he loves them not because of what they do but who they are? Because if you’re a parent, you can be sure of this. Your children are listening. Even when you think they aren’t.
You have the power to reframe where you are right now. That meeting, the one you dread every week, you could choose not to listen to Debbie Downer (or stop being her), and instead frame it a different way. That conversation, the one that’s littered with gossip and cynicism, you could reframe it. When circumstances appears hopeless, you can paint a picture of hope.
Words reveal character
Jesus says your words flow from your heart. Your words reveal your character, that’s how I interpret his words. If you think about it, you know his words are true.
When I look back on different seasons in my life, the proof is in the pudding (whatever that means). In my early-to-mid 20s, most of my conversations were about sports and climbing the ladder. Vanity, in other words.
Then, I encountered Christ, and my conversations changed. I still struggled with success and image and stuff, but as a whole, my words were different. I was also more intentional about the words I allowed into my heart. When the desire of my heart changed, so did my words.
This is hard, I know. Jesus’ words are direct, and somewhat offensive. I can feel the resistance. If you need some alone time, I’ll be here when you get back.
Seriously, though, I’m a Christian, which means this thing I call life is about transformation, lasting change. Transformation almost always hurts. So, I get this is hard, but maybe it’s time to face the music.
What do you words reveal about you? I’m talking about all of them. The ones you speak to your friends. The one you tell yourself. The ones you listen to. If you took inventory of your words, what would they say is most important in your life?
If you took inventory of your words, what would they say is most important in your life?
Quality always trumps quantity with words
So, if words are powerful, then more words equals more impact, right? This is silliness, of course. People who have a lot to say usually aren’t saying anything. This is basically all of social media. Social media isn’t all bad. But it’s essentially a place where everyone posts their opinions about the President or the pastor’s sermon, but rarely is anyone actually saying anything. It’s just words. You know what I mean?
People who have a lot to say usually aren’t saying anything.
When you must have the last word or respond to every opinion, you probably have some issue with control or certitude. A loose tongue is also a sign of immaturity. You won’t find a good leader who talks a lot. You just won’t. You might find someone who’s in charge, but not a leader. Leadership is about influence. It’s not a title. Great leaders know this. To inspire people, you must listen and understand the power of silence, among other things.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says this, “Do not be quick with your mouth…God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
Here’s an appropriate question. When you pray, how much do you talk? How much of your time with God is spent spewing out words, telling him who’s sick and what you need him to fix? There are times when we lay our requests before God. But in my experience, the most transformative part of prayer is the part where I say nothing. When I’m silent, I can wrestle with the tensions in my heart and mind. When I stop talking, I can contemplate and make space for the mysteries of life.
The power of words increases with proximity
The closer you are to someone, the more impact your words have. My wife has the power to destroy me with her words. Fortunately, my wife respects me and loves the Lord. So, she chooses life with her words. I wouldn’t be where I am without her encouragement.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” If you’re married, if you have children, if you have friends you need to understand your words are shaping their world. Are you building up or tearing down?
Sometimes words are better left unsaid. But at times, unsaid words make all the difference. When your spouse does something well, don’t assume she knows you’re thankful. Tell your kids you’re proud of them. Build them up. But don’t stop there. Think about someone you know who could use a word of encouragement. Don’t allow those words to die on the altar of good intentions. You never know, your kind words might create a new world for someone.
Too many encouraging, life-giving words die on the altar of good intentions.
Words are powerful. Use them to build up, inspire, encourage, challenge, and, if necessary, rebuke. But, don’t use them carelessly. Words create worlds.
Grace and peace, friends.