Have you ever heard the adage, “The one who keeps the minutes determines the outcome of the meeting?” When I take the notes for a meeting, recount an event, or write a report of an interview, I always introduce my own bias into the record. It’s inevitable.
Words have limitations.
Even when I strive to be completely objective, the words I choose, the way I organize and frame the content – these necessarily reflect a little of me.
If you’re a “wordsmith” – someone who puts words together well – you have a gift that can be the proverbial two-edged sword. People may come to depend on you to summarize what happened in a given situation and even look to you for an interpretation of that event. Because you are reasonably well-spoken and communicate well, they may seek your personal opinion on other topics as well.
On the one hand, when you use your communication gift with integrity, you have the privilege of insuring information is presented accurately and completely. You can tell the full story and tell it in a way that adds to the conversation; you can build up rather than tear down. You can also shine a light of truth on negative things that need to be exposed.
On the other hand, you can interject sarcasm and criticism, maybe passing it off as “humor”. You can be mean-spirited in a very subtle – or not so subtle – way and people will not only listen to you, they will tend to agree with you.
You can use your skill with words to take advantage of those who are not confident in their own ability to express themselves or are just intellectually lazy. (The word “politics” comes to mind.)
Here’s an example: Recently I blogged about a situation at work where I was incensed and unhappy over a personnel decision that had been made. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way and, as my sister and I are apt to say, I was “warming up in the bullpen”.
There were so many things I could think of to say that were negative and in my mind I was already rehearsing them. What’s more, I felt fully justified in articulating them because, “It’s all true!”
But here’s the thing: some of the younger people in my department who looked up to me were not only open, they were susceptible to my opinion. They were prepared to adopt my attitude as their own.
God had given me this gift of being able to express myself and influence others with my words and I could have used that gift as a weapon.
Thankfully God, in His wisdom, got my attention and showed me the negative potential of my words. I dialed it back and as I did, I was reminded that my “wordsmithing” ability is a tool, and it can either be a useful one or a destructive one. It is a gift that I can use for many purposes, not all of them honorable.
If you’re not a wordsmith, please keep this in mind: No matter how articulate and well-expressed a view might be, give it prayerful consideration before you accept it and espouse it as your own. Think deeply about the subjects that matter. Just because someone is glib and eloquent doesn’t make them an expert – or even trustworthy.
What other gifts can you think of that seem good, but can be used for nefarious or dishonorable purposes?
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- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016