The Weight of Words

Words are important. Whether we realize it or not, the words we say, write, and hear can tell us a lot about relationships, life, and even God. I have spent a good deal of time lately reflecting on the importance of words.

I have some friends that can talk for hours and hours without ever saying a single thing of worth. I have other friends who rarely speak, but when they do something it is so profound that I will be thinking about it for days.

Words can build up, encourage, and strengthen.

Words can tear down and destroy.

Words can hurt even when there is no intent.

One of the battles in which I find myself constantly entrenched is the battle against sarcasm in youth ministry. First, I must admit that I am definitely guilty of using sarcasm at times when relating to young people. It’s become so common in our culture that it is almost impossible to avoid.

However, is there a time when our use of sarcasm goes too far? When a visitor hears our sarcasm to a member student, but doesn’t hear it as sarcasm? When a younger student hears you call a high schooler “stupid” even if it is out of jest? Our words can be so easily taken out of context and heard as demeaning and degrading.

What if those of in youth ministry gave up on sarcasm? What if we made a commitment to speak words of truth and love at all times, and to keep our mouths shut when our thoughts are sarcastic? What if we could train our volunteers to think carefully about the words that they use with young people, and to use words that build up and edify rather than tear down and destroy.

There are some words that I wish I could remove from my vocabulary for youth ministry: stupid, can’t, hate, etc.

There are some other words that I wish I could learn to use more often: love, you can do this, I’m proud of you, support, etc.

What are some words that you wish you could eliminate from your vocabulary? Words you wish you could use more?

How are you using words to speak love and life into the young people around you?


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