Words . . . one of the most powerful forces for good in the organizations we serve. Unfortunately, one of the most powerful forces for not-so-good as well.
- Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
- Proverbs 18:6-8: “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.”
- James 3:6: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
For every human, words matter. For humans that lead, they matter even more.
So if words are so powerful, how can we who lead use them more responsibly? Here are four secrets to getting control of our tongue as a leader:
Psalm 141:3 says: “Lord set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” And Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord…”
Before you speak, ask yourself: “Will what I’m about to say build up or tear down my teammate? Before speaking, zip it for 30 seconds . . . and ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
When it comes to our speech: garbage in . . . garbage out. Our heart is the fountain of our speech. Deal with your mouth problem at the root level—your heart
Sometimes we implement these first three steps, and we still say something we wish we could take back. In those moments, we sometimes try to use an apology as a crutch for our careless words. Before we speak, it helps to understand that apologizing doesn’t undo the damage caused by words.
Your words matter. If you’re a leader, they matter even more, because of the platform you’ve been entrusted with.