By Nicole Kauffman
There’s no doubt, that others’ words have the power to change our days, our moods and our actions. Speaking words of encouragement is one of the most powerful ways to build each other up and spur one another on toward good.
But have you ever felt the sting of negative words?
As a “words of affirmation” love language gal, I’m particularly aware and sensitive to the impact of words. I’ve seen the way that my words affect others – for better or worse, and I’ve also been greatly impacted by the words of others.
I can remember times where my whole day felt clouded over because of negative words spoken to me. And I can also remember days where I did endlessly more than I ever thought I could because of a few words of encouragement spoken at just the right moment.
So let’s talk about the power of our words and how we can speak words of encouragement that answer the call of God on us as we seek to love others well.
The Power of Our Words
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences. -Proverbs 18:21
Our words can bring life to others. And conversely, our words can bring death. This image is powerful.
Sometimes I imagine the darkness that death symbolizes. The pain and loneliness and hopelessness. And when I think that my words have the power to bring that to others, I am convicted to take a closer look at what I’m saying.
Am I speaking discouragement? Am I gossiping? Am I talking negatively about others? Am I speaking truth or from the foolish notions that spring up within me?
Conversely, my words and yours have the power to bring life to others. The power to bring the hope and healing of Christ into the hearts of those around us. God can use our words as vessels that spread His message of hope and renewal.
Are my words filled with truth, life and light?
There is power in each and every word you speak.
And get this – the power is not just in affecting others! Our words can affect our own hearts as well.
The way we talk about ourselves and to ourselves can actually impact the way that our brain is wired. Our words can lead our own hearts to life or to death.
Pay attention to the words you speak to others, but also start to notice the words you speak to yourself.
During the beginning of my most recent pregnancy, I realized that I was feeling depressed – a lot. I thought it was all hormonal and was trying to trudge through, but one day I read something about the power of self talk and the importance of renewing our minds. I realized, the words I spoke to myself were all negative! The beginning of many of my depressed moods were actually negative words I spoke to myself or thought about myself.
I had to take each thought captive and speak life into my own heart too!
What are your words speaking to others? And to yourself? Life or death?
Why Your Ears Matter
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. -James 1:19
When I think of my words, I often think of speaking, speaking, speaking. When a friend is struggling, I want to speak encouragement and truth. When I’m listening to my husband’s dilemma at work, I want to speak advice or my opinion. When I’m in an argument or heated discussion, I want to speak words to defend myself or advocate for myself.
And yet, I often forget one of the most important part of our “words” is to begin with being quick to listen.
I am so guilty of speaking quickly and speaking much. I am a person who just loves to talk and wants to help. And so in conversation, I notice myself jumping in – a lot!
I heard some great advice from a friend once who had struggled with this very thing. She said when in a conversation, if the other person stops talking, she will count to three before saying anything. When I began to do this, I realized more times than not, the person was not done talking!
How often do we cut others off from sharing what’s on their heart because we are eager to encourage them or help them?
Sometimes the best way to encourage others is to listen and this is something I think we all need to remember as we consider the power of our words.
Proverbs 17:27 and Ecclesiastes 5:2 remind us that wisdom is often remaining silent and letting our words be few!
Phrases to Encourage Others
So now that we know to start with being quick to listen, what do we say when we actually want to speak words of encouragement?
Here are a few phrases that you can use to encourage others:
“I’m proud of you”
These words are powerful and never fail to speak affirmation into the hearts of others. I especially try to be intentional about using this with my husband and my children but even when spoken to friends, these words bring so much encouragement!
“I see God working through you right now”
I’ve seen this phrase be an encouragement time and time again. When people are struggling and just trying to get through, it is such an encouragement to point out if you see God at work through them. So many times I’ve watched friends struggle and still cling to joy or peace or hope in a situation where that just doesn’t make sense. Let them know if you see this! It is such a helpful reminder that God is at work even in our darker moments.
“I’m here for you”
This reminder sometimes needs spoken. When we are struggling or walking through something tough, Satan wants us to feel alone. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt alone and isolated in a time of struggle until I reached out and love poured in. It’s not always easy to reach out so just a simple reminder that “I’m here for you” can be an encouragement in a big way!
Bible Verses You Can Use to Encourage Others
John 16:33: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
We will face trouble as we walk through this world but Jesus promises us peace. He promises us that although we will struggle, ultimately He has overcome the world.
Satan has no victory. There is true and lasting hope in this.
For now, claim God’s peace in Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
Sometimes it feels like we are wasting away. Sometimes our struggles seem so BIG. But in comparison to the eternal future we have, these things will pass.
“This too shall pass” can sometimes be an encouragement and can othertimes be frustrating to hear, but Christ promises that His glory will outweigh any and every struggle we face.
Our struggles may feel big right now, but don’t be discouraged because soon you will look back and see joyous glory and peace.
Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Things don’t always feel good. When I went through some really hard health struggles with my son, I couldn’t imagine how this could be worked for good. But we have to cling to the promise that God is working for our good.
Even when things don’t feel good or when we can’t see the way, God’s ways are higher and His plan is good. Don’t let Satan convince you otherwise. God’s good is immeasurably better than what we may think is good in the moment.
Trust that He loves you and stand firm on this promise as the world may feel like it’s shaking underneath you!
2 Corinthians 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.”
God is the Father of compassion. He has compassion on you. He will comfort you as you lean into Him. This is a powerful encouragement about where we need to go for this comfort in our trying times because true comfort comes from the Lord!
Romans 8:37-38: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can separate us from the promises that God has for us, from the love that He lavishes on us, from the compassion and comfort of Christ. Cling to this hope and find peace that God is with you always. You are more than a conqueror through Christ – in all things.
More Bible Verses on Speaking Words of Encouragement
- Hebrews 10:24-25
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11
- Proverbs 16:24
- Romans 15:2
- Ephesians 4:29
- Colossians 4:6
- Psalm 19:14
- Proverbs 13:3
- Proverbs 18:4-7
- Ecclesiastes 10:12-14
Meet the author
Nicole is a wife and mama to two boys. Between keeping her house free from muddy footprints and plucking weeds from the garden, she loves to share hope and encouragement with those walking this journey of faith. Courage Hope Love started as a place to provide hope and healing and has transformed into a ministry building hearts and homes for the Lord.