Words Matter

wordsToday I caught myself laughing at an e-mail from my son’s middle school that was intended to be serious—a reminder about No Name Calling Awareness Week. I confess that I joked about it with my son.

“Remember, Nathan, name calling is wrong.” I quoted the slogan for the week: “Words matter.”

To me the whole thing seemed rather over the top. Of course kids shouldn’t call each other names. Of course words mattered. Did they need to dedicate an entire week to the topic? Was that really the best use of classroom time?

Then it occurred to me that middle schoolers could use an occasional reminder that words can make or break someone day—or their week, or their life.

Let’s face it; we adults need a reminder once in a while.

Words Matter.

Suddenly I couldn’t get the slogan out of my head and wished I could have taken my immature reaction back.

How many times have I been hurt by words, written or spoken? On a more uplifting note, how many days have been turned around because someone took the time to speak or write the exact words that I needed?

As writers we use words every day. Do we write as if we know they matter? I’m not just talking about our novels and articles and non-fiction books. Do we take our way with words seriously enough to also care how we craft an e-mail to an editor who just turned down our work? Does it matter to us that our “gift” for wit and sarcasm might offend or even hurt some of our Facebook friends or Twitter followers? Do we care who might stumble upon a blog post or book review? And what about the words we pen in areas that have nothing to do with our writing career, like notes to friends, coworkers, and our kids’ teachers?

Are we good stewards of our words and of the privilege to communicate what God would like us to say?

This week, let’s challenge ourselves to make every word matter, knowing that whether they are published or unpublished, they make a difference. Let’s see how many of ours can make a difference in a good way.

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