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The Power of Your Words at Work

Power of Tongue

April 1st, 2023

Our tongue is the most powerful of all the tools we use as leaders and influencers within our work. It can lift up those around us and show Christ’s love in our workplace, and it can also create the most damage. Someone we work with frustrates us, and we greet them with a snide remark. Someone misses a deadline, and our words light them on fire. Someone fails, and we meet them with sarcasm.

When we get called out on our words, it can be easy to dodge responsibility. Our response is, “I didn’t mean it like that,” or “I’m just really direct.” Make no mistake about it. Your “directness” is no excuse for not keeping your tongue in check. And, just because you didn’t mean a comment in a certain way doesn’t make your response acceptable. If anything, it may mean that you need to reassess what you have defined as “OK.”

Sharp responses are just one area of our work where our tongues can lead us off course. A coworker or client uses some language we would normally avoid, and we catch ourselves chiming in. Someone tells a joke that crosses a line, and we add to the conversation. Again, the tongue may be a small set of muscles in our body, but its strength is hard to contain.

James 3 gives us a stern warning about the power of our tongues…

“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” – James 3:3-6

A bit in a horse’s mouth. The rudder of a ship. The spark that sets the whole forest on fire. James gives us some clear insight into how powerful our tongue can be. As he shares in the verses above, it can be downright deadly. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. Consider these two verses…

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. – Colossians 4:6

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

Just as we battle our tongues in those moments of anger, stress, and frustration that meet us at work, our tongues can also be a source of grace and build one another up. This is one of our greatest opportunities as Christian leaders at work – to use our words to pull people toward the kingdom, not push them away.

That’s our encouragement to each of you today. Guard your tongues, for they are a rudder and a bit that controls where we go. Be careful that your words do not spark fires in your workplace. Instead, focus on using your tongue as a source of encouragement, grace, and growth. Work hard to ensure that your words are an example of Christ wherever you go. It all begins with creating an awareness of the words you’re speaking, the direction those words are leading you, and their impact on others.

– John Gamades, Author of WAR: A Tactical Guide for Christian Men