Your Words Matter

If you are a parent, you remember the day your child spoke their first word. That day is etched in your memory forever because it was so meaningful. So, too, a leader’s words are remembered with they choose a word or lash out through a series of harmful words. The words become etched in the mind of the congregational member for decades to come. 

Today, thousands of years after the Bible was written, Christians still read and are challenged by retelling the stories that have become the bedrock of the Christian faith. They begin to speak through the author in the simple shaping and meaning of each letter into a word that forms a sentence. Each word takes on a powerful force of someone’s emotions, projecting them into the air or on the written page. Words cannot be unsaid or unsent. Words from a leader can either help or hurt. And in the church world, words can force a relationship to hell or catapult a soul closer to heaven. Put it simply, words from a leader matter. When a leader uses their comments in the authority of the calling they hold, it can be spiritual life or death. 

The value of the written text is being lost in the social media, tech-driven world in which generations are growing up today. The value of the word, either spoken or typed out, is becoming more significant in an emoji-driven society because the emotion and meaning behind the delivery of the word have become more potent with time. 

Joseph’s life was one of challenge all because he was willing to speak up to his family before God was ready to move him forward.

Prepare for the Next Step.

From the palace to prison, Joseph went. This time his words and actions lined up, but the devil lined up on the other side. In leading the established church, there will be times when negative attacks come out of the blue. In moments of your darkest leadership challenge, your character shines through. You will either rise above the attacks or be swallowed up by them. 

Joseph had to be discouraged. He had to be worried. But instead of stewing on the negative, he fostered a spirit of advancement. He began to prepare for the next step. What about you? Are you wallowing in past pain or hurt? Are you struggling to move forward after an unexpected loss? 

Instead of seeing past pain and hurts as problems, begin to prepare for the next step in your ministry journey. God has great plans for you and your leadership ability. In high and low times in Joseph’s ministry, he sought God’s plan. That is a plan for you to follow. When things are good, seek God. When things turn sour, turn to God. By turning to God, your spirit stands open to what God could do next in your life. 

The focus of ministry should never be on the next chapter of your life or ministry but having a broader view that God always has the next chapter prepared can provide comfort in the difficult seasons of ministry. Why don’t you pause and reflect. What is God saying to you today about your ministry and current assignment? Where are you leading well as a leader, and where does your leadership need some work? 

As you unpack God’s thoughts on your heart, you will begin to see where God is preparing you to take the next step.

Promote the God Plan. 

Where is God leading as you unpacked God’s plans for your life? Joseph must have wrestled with the same question. Where was God when he was lied about or accused of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to prison? The simple answer: God was with him each step of the way. 

The long answer is that sometimes you go through challenging leadership times not because you are unfaithful but because the world is. God has been with you as you have ridden the spiritual mountain up and down. God is not surprised by the challenges. If you stay steadfast as Joseph did, you will come into God’s plan for your ministry.

As Joseph languished in prison, he had a chance to meet with two men who he provided insight into their dreams. God used that chance meeting to promote Joseph into the future. What you may be going through today may be the setup for your comeback. Think about it this way. Every interaction, every connection, can be used by God to help you in the future if you would be willing to see this chance encounters as change dynamics. 

After years of sitting and waiting in prison, God would take Joseph from the bottom (prison cell) to the top (prime minister of Egypt). Could that be your destiny? But are you serving right where God has you today? Joseph had a servant’s heart, and others picked up on his leadership ability, kindness and spiritual nature while in prison. Those traits would be used in his new role as the prime minister. 

Inside of you are giftings that others need. That others desire. But are you being faithful in leading where God has you? Many leaders struggle with enjoying today, always looking for tomorrow’s riches. 

God, through Joseph, has taught that when you are faithful with little, he will give you a lot. Will you trust God today? Will you trust that he has a plan for your ministry that you could only dream of? Will you be faithful with little, so he can promote you into the master plan he has for your life? If you are found faithful by God, the sky is the limit in where he will take you next.

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Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett
Desmond Barrett is the lead pastor at Winter Haven First Church of the Nazarene in Winter Haven, Florida. He is the author of several books and most recently the co-author with Charlotte P. Holter of Missional Reset: Capturing the Heart for Local Missions in the Established Church (Resource Publications) and has done extensive research in the area of church revitalization and serves as church revitalizer, consultant, coach, podcast host and mentor to revitalizing pastors and churches.