In the book of Genesis, it tells us that when God created the heavens and earth, He spoke them into existence. Because we are made in His image, scripture tells us that we also have the power to create with our words, too. I like to think of it this way: We are all artists with our words, and we paint on the canvas of people's hearts by what we speak, good or bad. That's why we need to be careful to use our words wisely as a skillful artist would, creating a positive, encouraging masterpiece in the hearts of our family members, friends and coworkers.
A beautiful work of art isn't created by merely choosing the right paint colors; it's created by the technique of the artist as well. In the same way, we have to be just as careful with how we communicate as we are with what we communicate.
Years ago, I learned this lesson the hard way when I was trying to encourage our son, Jonathan, to practice his guitar. I was driving the kids home from school one day and thinking about all the loose ends I'd left dangling on that particular afternoon. You might say I was feeling a bit stressed, and I let that stress come right through when I sharply asked, "Jonathan, have you practiced your guitar at all this week?" Before he could answer, I continued, "You know, if you don't practice your guitar now, you'll be sorry down the road when you want to play in the band at church and you're not good enough."
On and on I went, trying to "encourage" my eleven-year-old son to practice his guitar with enthusiasm and passion, and yet, I could see his countenance deflating and becoming more discouraged by the minute. All at once, I started listening to my own words, which really weren't very encouraging or inspiring at all. In fact, they were rather discouraging. When I realized that I was painting a negative picture on the canvas of his heart, I immediately stopped myself and said, "Jonathan, I'm sorry. I realize I wasn't very encouraging just now. Will you forgive me?"
I looked at him in the rearview mirror, and he just smiled at me so sweetly. Right then, I decided to change what I was painting. I said, "Jonathan, you are so talented musically. That's why I want you to practice. I know the more you practice, the better you'll become." I repackaged my words and changed my voice from the voice of discouragement and defeat to the voice of encouragement and victory.
Just like anything else, it takes practice to become a skillful "painter" with your words, but you can do it! Even when you have to bring correction or instruction, you can position your words so they will be more easily received. When you realize the impact of your words, you'll seize every opportunity to write positive messages on the hearts of the people you love.
"…My tongue is the pen of a ready writer." (Psalm 45:1, NKJV)