Just as gold is weighed to determine market value, words must be weighed in order to assign the value we’ll give them. Discerning between fool’s gold and the real deal is a weighty matter in relationships. As children, we chanted in sing-song voices the words, “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me.” If only that were true.
We never outgrow the need for affirmation. No matter the income, position, credentials, age or influence – people need to be told they are valued and appreciated.
Those who wear confidence well might appear to have grown beyond the need for encouragement, but it simply isn’t so. The little voice that comes to steal our best gifts might sleep during certain seasons but can be awakened by the critical words of others, undue stress or mistakes that launch us into self-condemnation.
And who HASN’T been criticized? As your influence grows, so do your critics. As someone who has a yearning for life-long learning, I am eager to hear words that help me grow. However, there are some guidelines I’ve developed to measure words and determine the weight they will have in my life:
1) Were they spoken from a spirit of love? Any other spirit doesn’t build up, but tears down. Even people who love you can speak from a spirit of hurt; hurting people hurt other people. Test the spirit from which any advice is given before applying it.
2) Do I respect the person they came from? Healthy people can share valuable wisdom. I’m talking about people that are healthy emotionally, mentally, spiritually and relationally.
3) Does the person have what I want? After all, it’s logical that If I think like they think, I’ll get what they have. For example, you don’t want to take financial advice from someone who’s in debt up to their eyeballs.
There are a few exceptions to these rules. After all, God even used a donkey to speak to one stubborn, hard-headed guy named Balaam.
Careless words can be costly and damaging. I like the proverb that says, “a word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” I want my words to be like gold and silver in the lives of others. That doesn’t mean being insincere or avoiding issues that need to be addressed. But it’s pretty obvious that negativity is winning the race in what people hear every day.
Affirm the strengths and qualities of another when you have opportunity.
It can change everything. As you speak life and hope into the hearts and minds of others, you will activate those very qualities in yourself. It’s said that you can only truly keep that which you give away.
Run without the weight of the negativity others have tried to strap onto you – you’ll go faster and farther. Your contribution to the world is of such immense value it can’t even be measured. What’re you going to do with it?