“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” Proverbs 16:24
Words mean something. I know this is shocking news. Who knew? By now, most of you are looking at Webster’s dictionary on the shelf and thinking, “I knew that.” The language we use says a lot about us.
I became a manager when I was 20 years old. My supervisor at the time used fear and intimidation to motivate. He believed in verbally flogging his subordinates until their morale improved. His words cut me worse than the sharpest knife.
“Reckless words pierce like a sword.” Proverbs 12:18
This was not the way to motivate me. By the words he used, I always felt like I was constantly on the verge of getting fired. Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer. I found another job and turned in my notice. He tried to convince me to stay, saying that I was doing a good job. But I was done!
That same day, I received a call from my Vice-president offering me a bigger and more profitable branch. I decided to stay and became one of their top managers. This experience shaped my managerial style, and, additionally, showed me the kind of manager I did not want to be. I knew that I wanted to encourage people - not tear them down with the words.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” - Yehuda Berg
Even little things matter. I have managed people for 45 years since that first job. Over the decades I've constantly introduced my employees to others, taking great care to never say that the employee works for me. I always introduce them as someone who works with me. I believe in the team concept. By using the word “with” I am reinforcing that concept. The difference may seem small, but it is not lost on the people I work with.
“Considering the ‘powerful force’ of the words we utter, we must discipline ourselves to speak in a way that conveys respect, gentleness, and humility. Be kind to all and speak words that are beacons of inspiration, enthusiasm, and encouragement to all. Kind and sweet words are always music to the ears of the listeners.” - Dr. Hyder Zahed
We all use outside vendors to keep our churches running. If you're like me, you take great care in choosing the companies that provide products and services. After a couple of bad encounters with HVAC contractors, I decided to interview prospective replacement vendors. In the process, I intentionally used the word "vendor" in a negative manner. I told all the prospects that I didn’t want a vendor but was looking for a company that would partner with Forest Hills Baptist Church. What’s the difference?
• a person or company offering something for sale, especially a trader in the street
• a pair of people engaged together in the same activity
• a person or group that takes part with another or others in doing something
Any company can be a vendor. A partner is always trying to do what is mutually best for the partnership. Notice how the phrase above, “people engaged together,” is used. That is the difference. It may seem small, but it let those companies know I wanted something more than a vendor. In the end, I found a great family-owned HVAC contractor. Not only does the company provide excellent service, but their techs teach our employees about the systems. This allows us to do more of the work ourselves.
We have all had difficult conversations in our careers. It may be a review of a poor performing employee or a serious disagreement with our supervisor. On these occasions, it may be hard to find words of encouragement or consensus. But these are the times when it is most important. I have found that most people quit listening when they feel they are being attacked or judged unfairly.
I stated at the beginning that the language we use says a lot about us. What does your language and the words you use say about you? Are you speaking to others in the manner that you would like to be addressed? Is the love of Christ reflected in your conversations?
“A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” Proverbs 18:4
So looking forward to being with you at our National Conference!