Words Have Power

by Bruce Ballast

Words Have Power 

The first person who suggested that I become a preacher was my 6th-grade teacher.  I was 12 years old, and I learned from her on the first day of class that words have the power to impact people.  Mrs. Frens spent the entire morning that the first day summarizing the various subjects we were going to study that year.  Her job, she said, was to get us ready for high school and beyond.  Then she dropped the bombshell.  We should expect to spend at least one hour per evening in homework to do well that year.

What She Said

As noon approached, she told about the routine that would precede lunch each day.  One of us, going in alphabetical order, would share some scripture passage that was meaningful, and then pray for a blessing on our parent-prepared bagged meal.  Ballast was first in the alphabet, and so, on day one, I was up.  As I look back on that day, I don’t remember how I knew what the passage I chose said, or even where it was in the Bible.  I chose to read Ecclesiastes 12:12, which reads: “Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.”

I was trying to be funny, to make points with my classmates.  I felt successful at my goal–until I saw Mrs. Frens lumbering between the carefully arranged desks toward me (in my memory she was a very large woman).  I tried to ignore her approach, hoping that she was heading somewhere behind me.  However, when she got to me, she leaned down and said very softly, “Have you ever thought of becoming a preacher?”  What unexpected words!  What a woman of vision for a snotty little kid.

The Lesson

I don’t remember anything much else that Mrs. Frens said during that year.  But I do remember those words very clearly.  That’s because certain words have the power to impact.  This is true for positive, dream words like the ones I heard.  It’s also true for negative words, as many of you know.

You can probably remember similar situations where you learned that words have the power that impacted you.  The words may have come to you in a Bible study.  They may have been the words of a parent or teacher.  Or they may have come from a friend.  Powerful words may have even come to you in a sermon.

This connection between a message and a hearer, especially when empowered by the Holy Spirit, is the essence of the preaching act.

Remember, words have power.  Therefore, we should choose our words carefully when we communicate.  A slight change in our choice of words can make a huge difference in the impact, as you will see in this short video:

Next time we’ll look at what kinds of words you should be thinking of choosing as you work through the building of your sermon.