Words Have Power

There is power in words. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea and those reading this know that. But, you’ll agree that there have been words said in your life that have changed everything. When you hear the word “Yes”, what does it conjure up in your mind? Probably a lot of things. I jump to two things. First, when my now-wife said “yes” to marrying me. What a day. Second, when I said “yes” to Jesus, fully and truly. With those examples, you understand that words have power.

The Power of Words From the Beginning

We see this in the very beginning of Genesis 1:3-8.

“And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said. Wow, something monumental happened in the creation of the world when God spoke. God spoke life into existence. He spoke the things around us into existence. God made us in his likeness, so we have the power to speak things into existence. It doesn’t mean that I can say “tree” and all of a sudden a tree pops up out of nowhere. But, it does mean that our words can bring life or death to things-----either about ourselves or others. We can speak things into existence.

How the Power of Words Changed My Life

A couple of months ago, I attended Orange Conference in Atlanta. This is an amazing conference and even if you don’t use Orange Curriculum, it is worth it to go to, because this is where all of the best youth ministry and church thought leaders gather to pour into those serving the next generation. When I was there, I had the opportunity to briefly have an exchange with one of my heroes, Bob Goff.

If you don’t know Bob, he is a New York Times best-selling author and motivational speaker who is best known for his work with the organization Love Does (formerly Restore international). He has two books that I highly recommend: Love Does and Everybody Always. Bob is just a different kind of guy. He loves people and he teaches us in the most unique and unorthodox ways possible to simply love people the way Jesus called us to.

Prior to Orange Conference, I was struggling at my day job and living in fear. I was not happy and pretty miserable. I let people walk all over me. My wife and I were doing our business supporting ministries on the side. (She was full-time at it and I was doing it part-time while I went to this day job). I was feeling like a shell of myself. Little did I know that one interaction with Bob Goff would change everything.

In between sessions, I ran up to the stage area (I was the only one around) and I got Bob’s attention. He came over and I went to put out my hand to shake his. In typical Bob Goff fashion, he gave me a hug and said “Hey man, what’s your name?” I told him who I was and the impact he has made on my life. We talked for a minute. During this interaction, I didn’t say anything that I did, I just thanked him for what he did.  He said something to me as we departed the conversation that I will never forget. “Thanks for doing courageous things.”

As he walked away, I kind of stood there in awe. Thanks for doing courageous things……? Bob didn’t know me and as far as he knew I hadn’t done anything courageous. But, he spoke that over me. It was like a switch, and all of a sudden, I started to believe I was courageous and did bold things.

When I got back home, I quit my job and I vocalized all of the unethical and moral wrongs going on. I dived in full-force with going full-time into my wife and I’s business. I started to share the good news of Jesus with people boldly. I began to pray like I never have before, asking courageous requests. Every morning since that day, my daily declaration has been one thing “I do courageous things.” This is all because one person of influence in my life said that I was courageous.

How the Power of Words Can Change The Lives of Youth

Why do I bring this up? Well, because as youth workers and people in ministry our words can have a lasting impact. We have the power to speak words of life over our kids and students. And although impactful, it’s not just words from the platform. It is in those one on one interactions that can make the most impact. So, there are four things I want to point out as you navigate your conversations with students.

1. Even though you think they aren’t listening, they are.

If you’ve ever spent enough time in the Word, you know that the more you spend in it, the more it gets in you. I have spent days where I have given 8 hours listening to sermons or the Bible. Most of the time I am not fully paying attention but   know there is internalization. Have you ever been with someone or been in a situation where a bible verse or a word of encouragement seemingly comes out of nowhere at the right place, at the right time? The Holy Spirit is tugging at you and pulling what you have inside of you. Imagine this, you tell one of your students that they are a fighter, and they are a warrior. You tell them this over and over again. All of a sudden tragedy strikes in their family and they lose someone. In the midst of their despair, their mind harkens back to “I am a fighter, I am a warrior.” And it makes a difference in overcoming their pain. So keep pouring in, even if you think they’re not listening. They are.

2. There is always positive words of life that can be spoken over anyone.

All of us have those people in our lives (or kids or students) who push our buttons. No matter what we do, they find a way to challenge us. But, we have to remember that positive words of life can and should be spoken over everyone. I would suggest that you get a journal and write down the name of every kid you interact with. Then I would actively come up with a word or phrase for each kid that you can speak over them. Then I would put it into practice and see the kind of spiritual power that it has. You will see how words of life can be life-changing for anyone.

3. You may be the only person that a kid has in their life pouring into them.

Shepherd your flock. Just because a kid might live in a two parent household or is seemingly all put together, doesn’t mean the influences in their life are positive. Our purpose is to find a way to pour into every kid we can, and compel those serving under us to do the same. Every kid has influences, but do they have the right one? God has entrusted us with the care of each child. Dr. Dharius Daniels says that we cannot look at kids as an “interruption” but we need to look at them as an “appointment”. Every child that you have come into contact with has been appointed at this time and place by God to be under your care. What are you going to do with this appointment?

4. One Interaction Can Change Everything

As believers, we know that one moment on the cross changed all of eternity. One decision can change a person’s destiny. In the same way, one interaction with a student can change their whole life. Look for the opportunities and make the most of every encounter.  It is as simple as that.

The Power of Words: Next Steps

For every child, speaking fullness and God’s life-changing power into existence makes all of the difference.

How are you going to get your team on board to use the power of words? What name comes to mind for who you need to pour into next? How are you going to use your responsibility and your appointment to pour into the lives of children to build the Kingdom of God?

If you are reminded now that kids really are listening, that words of life can be spoken over anyone, that you might be the only positive influence in a child’s life and one interaction can change everything, what is your next step?

Timothy Synan