Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

The Power of the Word

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009

The Power of the Word

No, I don’t mean the Bible. I mean the words we use to talk about ourselves. I was in a conversation with someone the other day about this, and she noted that in our presbytery we don’t tend to speak very well about ourselves. In fact, we often do the opposite. We too easily focus on what we don’t like, we complain to whoever will listen and we tear each other down much more readily than we build each other up. It doesn’t take long before no one wants to be around us! After all who wants to keep hearing complaints and bad news? Negative talk breeds more negativity, both in how others see us, and in how we see ourselves.

Let me give you an example: in my last church, we spent one year making sure that every week in the local paper, we had some news about the church ” an event going on, a report of a successful event, an invitation, or some good news to share. We also did something unusual that year. We made a decision not to have a stewardship drive that year. Instead we called every member to get a sense of how they were feeling about the church. The goodwill people had toward the church was higher than it had ever been. It showed in the weekly offerings, which were significantly higher than usual. People in town also began to take notice of the church in a positive way. The next year, we let our positive self-talk slip, and all of a sudden people in the community said “we heard you were closing” and even more concerning, conflict started showing up in the church left and right. What changed? We stopped talking good about ourselves and eventually started a landslide of negative self-talk.

How we talk about ourselves is powerful. It changes our view of ourselves and it affects how others see us. The more we focus on the negative, the more negative we become and the more others see us as troubled. The more we focus on the positive, the positive and hopeful we become, and the more others see us as beautiful.

These days are hard for the church. We have lots of things that worry us and challenge us. The more we focus on the good, the better equipped we will be to deal with the anxieties and challenges facing the church today, and the better we will feel about ourselves.

So here’s the solution: lift up the good things that are going on! Brag about your church! Brag about what you are doing, what you’ve accomplished, what you are trying, risks you have taken. Shout it from the pages of your newsletters and newspapers. Speak of it at your worship services and committee meetings. Celebrate the good that God is accomplishing among you, and I guarantee you will see a brighter and more hopeful future.

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