Sticks and Stones: The Transformative Power of Words by Gregory Bland

Sticks and stones may break my bones but your words will . . . . never hurt me. Hmm, I think that might better be written, sticks and stone may break my bones and your words will always shape me.

From the tender whisper of encouragement to the sharp sting of criticism, the words we use hold immense power. Solomon said it well, “The power of life and death are in the tongue.” As it relates to us as parents, our words uplift spirits, inspire greatness, and kindle hope, yet they can also wound, belittle, and shatter dreams.

Consider for a moment the impact a simple phrase can have upon your child or teen’s life. A heartfelt “I believe in you” has the power to ignite a fire within them, fostering confidence and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Conversely, a careless “you’ll never amount to anything” can plant seeds of doubt that may take root and become a stumbling block for life.

We need not look further than Jesus’ interaction with Simon to recognize this principle in action. Jesus could have focused on various aspects of Simons life while initially speaking with him: his tendency to speak before thinking, that he was headstrong, jumping into action without considering the consequences, his unharnessed boldness.

However, Jesus saw something more profound in his character. He recognized and verbalized a character quality within Simon, stating, “You are Simon son of John, but you will be called Peter,” which means “You are a rock!” (John 1:42).

Jesus’ focus was on a positive element within his character, prompting one to wonder what Peter might have thought upon hearing Jesus speak these words.

Did he respond with disbelief? “Who, me?” “You must be joking; I’m the furthest thing from a rock.” “I’m not sure who you see, Jesus, but it can’t be me.”

Or perhaps he felt stirred by Jesus’ words, thinking, “There’s something about what you said that resonates deep within me; I really want to live up to that!”

Furthermore, the words we speak can reverberate through time, echoing in the hearts and minds of our children long after they have been spoken. A kind word spoken in passing may be remembered for a lifetime, serving as a beacon of light in moments of darkness, offering hope when things seem difficult.

It is essential to recognize the responsibility that comes with wielding such power. Every word we utter carries weight, and we must choose them wisely, with empathy and understanding. We must strive to use our words to uplift, empower, and inspire those within our care, recognizing the potential for positive change that lies within each conversation we have.

Speaking to our children’s character in this way redirects our focus and attention toward what’s meaningful and lasting, their character. This may also help them begin seeing themselves as God sees them. Who knows, they may even think to themselves, “Mom, Dad, those words stir something deep within me, there is just something about what you said, and I really want to live up to that!”   

This week can I encourage you to observe and take notice of the character qualities that are developing within your child? When you have identified something, take a moment and affirm them verbally, then step back and observe how they respond.

Until next time,
Let’s remember that we have the power of death and life within our tongues, and then use it wisely.

Your friend and pro-active parent coach

Gregory Bland

* originally posted on Pro-Active Parent Coaching Dec 2009

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