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Faithful utterances

Do you want to be responsible for destroying someone?

by Froswa Booker-Drew
Dr. Froswa Booker-Drew

When I was in graduate school, I had a professor who didn’t seem to care for me. He questioned my abilities and even asked how I was a student at the university. What if I had allowed his perception of me to deter me from achieving my goals? What if I had given up and settled for his statement as fact?

Too often, we allow the thoughts and opinions of others to jade us and impact our trajectory. It isn’t that I didn’t work harder because of what he said. I did work harder, but I also knew that I couldn’t give up on my future—especially when I knew that God had something special for my life.

You must be careful about who or what you listen to. Although I wasn’t close to this professor and didn’t have much of a relationship with him, many of us are wounded by those who are close to us.

Their words can pierce our souls because of our relationship and proximity to them. Sometimes their words may be well-meaning and out of concern. We also know that there are times when those words can be malicious and damaging.

Job in the Bible experienced the painful words of loved ones when he suffered tragedy and loss. In Chapter 2, his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, arrived to support him after they heard about the calamity he experienced.

In their desire to offer support and console their friend, they began to blame Job for his condition. Their lengthy speeches were filled with concern but laced with condemnation.

Job finally remarked: “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all,” Job 16: 2. God ultimately condemns them in Chapter 42 for their rhetoric. Yet think about the amount of time Job heard their words along with his wife who encouraged him to curse God and die. Had he listened to their council, Job would have missed out on seeing the hand of God in his life. He could have given up.

There is also a lesson in being mindful of the words we speak over the lives of others. The Bible reminds us that there is life and death in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Instead of speaking life to Job and his condition, his friends found fault in seeking to tie his misery to something he had done.

Job at that moment needed friends that would be supportive, kind, and probably silent. He was already rehashing what happened and didn’t need their judgment combined with what he was thinking and experiencing. My mother always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.” I think more of us need to be quiet.

Recently, I was with some close friends in which a child shared their dream with their parents.

One of the parents told the child that they would not accomplish that goal. I was broken to hear this and encouraged the child to pursue their dreams.

Despite the child’s ambition and desire to make this achievement a reality, the seed has been sown by the words of the parent.

Our words are powerful and impact those around us, especially our children. I meet so many adults who are wounded because of something an adult said to them when they were children.

Those words shape us and can define how we see ourselves and the world. What are the words that you are speaking over the lives of your children? Are you criticizing them because of your insecurities and fears? Don’t allow the pain of your past to show up in your words that can cause damage for a lifetime.

Just as importantly, what words are you allowing others to speak into your life? How do you speak to yourself? Are you the harshest judge in your life? Many of us would never speak to our friends the way we talk to ourselves.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV). Our words matter. Use them wisely. Speak life to yourself and to those around you.

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the president of Soulstice Consultancy, the founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation, and the author of four books.)

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