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The Gift Of Your Voice

Being An Encourager In An Increasingly Negative World

When my uncle passed away peacefully at home with his family around his bedside, there were many tears cried and many words of love spoken.

The nurses from hospice encouraged the family to keep talking even if he appeared to be unconscious.

My aunt later told me, “We were still talking as he left this world.”

It’s important to reflect on this insight: Of all the senses humans possess, hearing is the last one to go. In our final moments on Earth, when our bodies shut down and our minds drift away, we may still have the capacity to hear words being spoken.

If that doesn’t testify to the power of words, then what does?

And if spoken words can comfort people as they take their last breaths on Earth, imagine what they might do for people who are alive and fully conscious.

I’ve heard it said before that people will always remember the hurtful things said to them – but rarely do they remember the hurtful words they speak. Isn’t that the truth? Haven’t we all been wounded by words that were carelessly spoken to us, yet also been guilty of inflicting wounds without realizing the damage we’ve done?

Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” One area where we can all do better is being more mindful of our words. 

Will we choose words that build people up – or tear them down?

Will we love people as they are – or make them feel like a mistake?

Will we be encouragers – or critics?

Counselors say that it takes about five compliments to counterbalance every criticism. Given how negative our culture has become and how overtly critical people are, it is clear why we need more encouragers.

Chances are, you know both critics and encouragers. You know critics who like to complain, nitpick, rant, gossip, or stir the pot of drama. They pride themselves on being the mouthpiece of what others are 'too scared' to say. They speak without love, hope, or tact. And through technology, they have a playground. Behind the anonymity of a screen, they let keyboard courage take over, and they write irresponsible remarks that they’d never say to someone’s face. 

On the flip side, you may also know encouragers. Encouragers understand our broken world and are aware that people have shortcomings, yet they magnify what is right. They exude a feeling of warmth, control their emotions, comfort and inspire others, and leave you feeling good about yourself and the potential inside of you.

Each day, we decide which camp we want to fall in. Who do we hope to be more like? Who do we want to surround us? What kind of person do we want to be – and how do we want to use the gift of our voice?

Jesus said that we can identify trees by the fruit they produce. It's worth asking ourselves: What conversations am I starting? What reactions am I stirring? Do my words and actions help others become the best version of themselves? While actions speak louder than words, the words we speak matter.   

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