Life Coach Magazine

When Necessary, Use Words

By Writerinterrupted @writerinterrupt

Power of words

I loved Sunday’s sermon even though it started out with this quote by Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”

Words are my passion. My career. The way I pursue my mission in life. But it’s important to remember that what makes my words powerful really comes from what’s behind them.

As a writer, I want to learn from great writers. Writers whose words have a lasting impact. Writers whose very life preaches the gospel. Writers like the apostle Paul. You know, the guy who wrote 25% of the New Testament. Yeah, him.

What did he do that I can emulate? I found my answer in Acts 26.

1.)   Ensure people matter. When Paul is brought before King Agrippa, and asked to speak about himself, he first shows his respect for the king. “I can’t think of anyone, King Agrippa, before whom I’d rather be answering all these Jewish accusations than you, knowing how well you are acquainted with Jewish ways and all our family quarrels.” And when Agrippa eventually responds that Paul is about to make a Christian out of him, Paul ends with, “That’s what I’m praying for, whether now or later, and not only you but everyone listening today, to become like me—except, of course, for this prison jewelry!”

Paul was in chains, but his prayer was for everyone else. That can’t help but convict. Because people are more open when they know you care.

2.)   Be real. Paul’s past could have been shameful for him. He could have tried to hide it. But instead, he confesses. “For a time I thought it was my duty to oppose this Jesus of Nazareth with all my might. Backed with the full authority of the high priests, I threw these believers into the Jerusalem jail right and left, and whenever it came to a vote, I voted for their execution.”

Since he’d always been religious, his testimony holds more weight. Who he was affected how people heard his words. I mean, would you rather take spiritual advice from Billy Graham or…say…Dennis Rodman? That’s what I thought.

3.)   Know what makes your story powerful. Paul tells his past, then he tells about his change on the road to Damascus, but what gets Festus to yell at him and call him crazy is this: “Everything I’m saying is completely in line with what the prophets and Moses said would happen. One, the Messiah must die; two, raised from the dead he would be the first rays of God’s daylight shining on people far and near, people both godless and God-fearing.”

It’s not about Paul at all. Everything else he said was to get to this point. He’s focusing on the truth that changes lives. A truth that the religious leaders don’t want to believe but they can’t argue with, so they resort to making accusations about his sanity. And he’s able to defend himself respectfully by continuing to focus on this power.

4.)   Invite feedback. Paul doesn’t only make his case, he invites the king to respond with, “You believe the prophets, don’t you, King Agrippa?” He doesn’t simply want to preach. He wants to open dialog. He wants to know how his words have affected the one he was speaking to. Which brings us back to my first point. Paul cared for people.

Perhaps one of the reasons this message meant so much to me this week was because I’ve been pondering the recent claims against such writers/speakers as Beth Moore, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren. Many blogs and facebook posts are calling them false teachers. I’m not here to judge but to recognize that a lot of people have found hope through their words AND to understand that they are still human and not going to live perfectly.

For me, it’s scary knowing that publishers want me as an author to build a platform like theirs—a platform that will give the world an opportunity to rip me apart when I make a mistake. So I’m thankful for the reminder that it’s not just about my books. In fact, it’s not about my book at all.

Because of Paul’s experience I have a new plan to pursue my mission statement. A plan that preaches the gospel at all times. And when necessary, uses words.

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