What’s in a word?
It’s interesting how much credence we give to the things we say. What I mean is this–whether it is the President communicating his vision for a nation to its people, a pastor explaining what it means to be a follower of Jesus, or a mother passing on family wisdom to her children through generational sayings–we take great care what we communicate through words. The President has speech writers who make sure each phrase, pause, and the flow of the speech are just right. The pastor spends twenty hours crafting a proclamation delivered in half an hour. The mother repeats the wise if pithy sayings in the same way so her children will not forget.
Yet for all the care that’s taken in verbal communication, the words comprise such a small part of the message. No matter how many times a President says he’s against higher taxes, refusing to cut spending that requires huge amounts of tax money contradicts his words. A pastor may say that the people of God are a body and each part is important, but he stands and delivers a one-way message to passive observers–their input is not needed or welcomed. The mother communicates wisdom regularly, but she is with her children hours a day and her actions will become a shout that drowns out the whipser of her words.
Words are important. They are used to convey matters of incredible worth. But the medium used to deliver those words and the actions behind them are more important. Words are easy. Actions are difficult. A fat man can deliver a message about nutrition, but refraining from stuffing himself that evening is a different story. A woman can amass hundreds of “friends” online, but the glow of a computer screen cannot communicate the depth of a hug, even in an endless parade of hours.
Both the way a message is communicated and the actions behind it will communicate far more than the message itself. I’m not sure our lives reflect this reality very often. Because changing and shaping our words requires little discipline and risk. Changing the way we live and the way we do things is most difficult indeed.