Words are powerful. As God's Word reminds us:
The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit. Prov. 18:21
As church communicators, words are the tools we use to fully fulfill the Great Commission, to introduce people to Jesus and to grow them into mature disciples.
Though most church communicators would agree with these goals, there are many ways we can accomplish them. We can shame people, mock, and malign to reveal what we consider error. We can be caustic cynics of what we don't like in politics or people. We can yell or express righteous anger because we consider it our right to do so. But though we can choose how we use our words, we can't always choose the effect they will have, this verse reminds us.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18
Though I first referenced this article seven years ago, we need it more than ever today. And though there is true evil that we need to confront in word and deed, even there the following advice is helpful. It comes from a longer article by Rev. James Martin, S.J. and after I copied it as an inspiration for actions, I realized what a useful challenge it is for all of us who communicate:
Be a Little Kinder. . . . No need to have any advanced degrees in theology or moral reasoning, and no need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the world's religious traditions, to get this: Be gentler and more compassionate towards other people. In other words, say "Thank you" and "Please." Ask people how they are. Listen more carefully when they speak to you. Don't say snotty things about them behind their backs. Basically, give them the benefit of the doubt. I know that sometimes you feel like acting like a jerk--you feel justified because of the way you're being treated--but you don't have to. Most of the time you have a choice: I can be a jerk or I can be kind. Be kind. You'll find that you'll be happier with yourself at the end of the day. And, as an added benefit, everyone around you will be happier.
"Be a little kinder" in our words, our actions, our tone and in our relationships with others in the coming year, it is good advice if we want to create church communications that will result in eternally changed lives. As we begin our day and every day, my prayer for all of us is that daily we would humbly as the Lord as we start our work:
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Ps. 19:14