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Words DO Matter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 11, 2021 2:00 am

Words DO Matter

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 11, 2021 2:00 am

All of us can remember words that impacted us in positive or negative ways. Today, Dave and Ann Wilson tell us five ways to leverage our words for good.

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So do you remember something somebody said to you that changed your life, good or bad? Yes, don't we all?

The first thing that comes to mind is I was probably three or four, probably four. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So do you remember something somebody said to you that changed your life? I was probably four. And my mom said to me, you know, you were an accident. We really didn't mean to have you, which was kind of this terrible moment. But then she said, but I always thought God must want you to be born for some reason, which is so interesting because we really didn't go to church.

We didn't talk about God very much. But those words always stuck with me, like, I wonder what he has. And then the other thing I remember is I only asked for one. Okay, what's yours? You got another one? No, go ahead.

What's yours? No, I mean, I was just I wanted to ask you that because it brings up the point that Scripture makes it very clear that our words have power. And so as you think about your marriage and our parenting.

Yeah. What you say to your spouse, what you say to your kids, what you say to your parents. I mean, it goes both ways is powerful because it sticks. Words stick. You know, there's that phrase, you know, sticks and stones will break my bones or words will never hurt me. It's the biggest lie ever. Words can really, really hurt and bring damage really to a soul if they're negative.

And yet the opposite is true as well. When they're positive, they're life giving words, they can literally shape a life for good. So it's almost like your mom said something that sounded negative.

You know, you're a mistake, but she turned it to something that ended up giving you hope. Even though I wasn't a believer until I was in my teen years, I always wondered, does God really know me? Was I born on purpose for a purpose? I always wondered that when I was growing up. What are some words that stick with you? Well, I mean, I was so fortunate to be raised by a single mom who I don't think she could quote a Bible verse about the tongue. Like Proverbs 18, 21 says, Life and death is in the power of the tongue.

You know, we have the power of life and death is in the tongue. And she probably didn't know that verse, but she spoke life. I honestly can't remember her ever saying a negative thing to me. I mean, she was kind of sickening. She was hard on me and she disciplined me.

You know, I mean, she I've made some major mistakes, especially as a teenager. And so she laid down the law. But even then, she never condemned me.

She never said I'm a loser. All I can remember is she believed in me. She spoke life to me. She affirmed me. She said God's going to do great things in and through me.

Well, even when it looked like there's no chance of that happening. Our family, we didn't really praise one another very much in our family growing up, was very performance oriented. But I did have a gym teacher in the eighth grade.

I'll never forget this. Mrs. Brown, because I'll never forget this one day she took me by the shoulders and I was on all her sports team. She was a coach and she looked at me and she said, Ann Barron, my maiden name. She said, I want you to know this before you get out of my school. You're a great leader.

You're not only a good athlete, but you're a great leader. No one had ever told me that before. It was amazing. It felt like this gold that she had given me because no one ever complimented in our family. And I realized, like, I'm so hungry to hear any positive words. And she was right. I don't know if she's right, but I remember thinking, am I? Am I a leader?

Yeah, you're a great leader. She saw something and called it out. And so I think it'd be really important today to talk about the power of our words in our marriage and the power of our words as parents. And we've talked about this a little bit before.

This is something that we love to talk about. I mean, it's something that I think you can't talk about enough because we spew words in our marriages all the time. And we need to understand, man, there are words that build up and bring life in our marriage and with our children. And there are words that tear down and bring death. You know, it's what Proverbs says. Proverbs 12 18 says, The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Isn't that a good one? How about Proverbs 16 24? Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body. And we've sort of just talked about the first one, but let's let's state it. And I'm hoping you make notes because these are three ways to leverage the power of your words in a relationship. Obviously, again, marriage and parenting.

The first one is say it. And it's simple, but it's like when you think something good, speak it out because it can be life changing for them. It can bring life to your marriage. It can bring life, you know, to your kids.

And if you think something bad, I would say sort of keep it. You don't need to say. I mean, our listeners have heard us say, you know, the things we said in the first year of marriage.

There were horrible things. I wish I'd never married you. You said that to me. I did say that to you. And you said to me, I would rather be dead than married to you. It took years to get those out of our heads, didn't it?

Yeah. I mean, those are words that, you know, so when we say say it, it's like those are words, some words you don't say. Never say.

Like I had that thought. I didn't need to express it just because some premarital counselor said, say every little thought that ever comes in your mind. That's bad counseling.

That's bad wisdom. I mean, there are some things that, you know, you think it's like, you know what, that's not going to be helpful. I mean, there's other things that are truthful that need to be said that maybe not be, you know, feel like they're life giving.

If it's helpful, then you need to say it. But something like that, that didn't help us at all. Yeah. I really regret even with our teens, I was saying negative things. I didn't think they were negative in terms of their character, but I was constantly critiquing them. Like, you need to work harder at that.

You need to study more. You need to not go to these parties. I remember saying to one of our sons one time, man, I am just so proud of you. Do you know how proud I am of you? And he said, no, I don't. I went to bed that night thinking, do I not tell him enough? And I don't think I did tell them enough. I was so busy critiquing them and worried about what they would become that I wasn't speaking the good things that I was thinking about.

Yeah. And I would sit here and say, that's the opposite of how I remember you with our kids. You spoke life constantly. As they got older, I did. I mean, you're like, you're the one that created, this is the Wilson birthday procedure. You know, it's like every birthday you made us sit down as we had a birthday meal and everybody at the table had to say something they loved about the birthday boy.

Or something that they had seen them grow in that year or something they appreciated about them. And I loved it because I love this stuff. Like, oh, this is going to be so awesome. And it was, I would always tell them how exciting it was, their birth story. Like I would go through, this is what was going on when you were born. This is what we were feeling. This is what happened after. This is where God was in it.

And then we would all give a birthday blessing, we called it, to the birthday person. And I wish I would have kept it going, but they got older. I think they were in high school or middle school and they'd roll their eyes. We still did it. You never stopped it. You act like you stopped it. You never stopped it. And I got to say this when it's my birthday and you start that because I'm sitting there at the table and you go, hey, guys, we're going to, I just sit there like, oh no, you're not going to do this. But then when you do it, all I can say is it brings life. My chest pops out. I feel filled up. I mean, again, it's the power of life words.

Again, I'm not kidding. Every time I roll my eyes like we're not going to do this stupid thing again. And then when I'm the one receiving the blessing of the power of blessing words, it's awesome. Okay, I didn't even know that you like it. You always roll your eyes. See, that's good.

I'm so glad we're on radio talking about this today in podcast. And that's why I'm saying you need to leverage your words by saying it. And I've never said that ever. I didn't know that.

That's good to know. Well, here's what happened that changed me. When my sister died, she was 45 years old and I was 39. And at the funeral, I'll never forget all these people standing up and speaking so highly. They had stories about her, stories of who she was, what she had done in their lives to impact them. I mean, they were amazing, beautiful words. And I remember thinking, I hope they shared all these with her. You have actually performed so many funerals for people. And haven't you seen the same thing?

If the family will allow, I always try to encourage them to do an open mic and let people share. And it's beautiful. And the sad thing is often they say they've never said them until the person is gone. I'll never forget. One time with the Detroit Lions, we were traveling to Cleveland to play the Browns. We stayed in a hotel right beside the Cleveland Clinic.

I don't even know if you know the story. And somehow somebody came to the team and asked for the team chaplain and I got a call in my room to come downstairs. And I'm like, what's up? And they said, there's a family here at the Cleveland Clinic. Their grandmother is about to die. They want to do a living funeral, a living memorial. And they wondered if you come in and officiate it. How have I never heard this story?

I'll never forget this. And so I end up in this room with this family and there were 15 people there, grandkids and the whole family. And this woman sitting in a wheelchair and she's going to die within the next days or weeks. And they literally went around the room and I got to just I was supposed to lead it, but I basically watched. You were blessed by it. And they just spoke life into her before she died. It's the kind of things you would say after they said it while she was still alive. And I remember thinking that is it's so important to say that. Just think say out loud to the person, to your spouse, to your kids, to your parents, to your grandparents. Words of life. Don't let a day go by without that. I mean, you need to incorporate the Wilson birthday blessing into your birthday traditions from now on or whatever it is or stop.

You know, this week and say, hey, let's do a Friday night dinner and let's say out loud. And there's rules. There's nothing negative allowed to be said.

Yeah. And I know there's negative things you think and maybe there's negative things that should be said someday. But this day is not that. You speak out only positive. I like that. So that's one way to leverage your words. Say it. Right.

And the second one would be write it. This is a good one. I've talked to so many people over the years that have said words are very difficult for me to express. I'm not very good at expressing it.

I feel so much about my spouse or my kids. And I'll say that to them. You should write it.

And I will say that about you, Dave. You are amazing at this because you do say it with your words, but not as eloquently as you would writing it. When you hand me a note, I go into the other room, I sit in a chair and just read it by myself because you're so good with expressing yourself through the written word that they're treasures for me. And I know for our sons as well, when you've written them letters, it's one of the most powerful things of conveying love, respect, hope and even future into them. And I can say from my side, I know that when you've written me notes or even cards of and again, not love notes, but respect notes. Again, I can't remember any love notes like I love you.

OK, whatever. But when you I mean, not that it doesn't matter, but I sort of know you love me. But when you write affirmations of what you believe in me, trust in me, affirm in me, see in me, greatness in me.

I don't even know if you know this, but in my middle drawer, in my desk at home, I have a little stack of cards that Detroit Lion players over the years have written to me after they left the team saying thank you for the ministry I had in their lives. Why do I have those all hidden somewhere? Because I appreciate them. And every once while I'll pull them out.

Will you pull them out? Just when you're thinking, you know, you're struggling a little bit or is anything I'm doing impacting anybody? And I'll read one of those and the ones you've written me. That's the power of a word written. I mean, even an email or a text that's powerful as well. I even got some voicemails saved on my phone. Again, that's say it where guys saying thank you for your impact in my life. And I didn't delete those.

They're still there. Just so sweet. So when you say it and then you when you write it, think about this. When you write something like that to a son or a daughter, even a text, if maybe you're not going to pull out paper and pen, but you could pull out your phone and do a text.

Yeah. I just last year was going through something in my office and found a letter that my dad wrote to me when I was a little boy. It was stacked away. I'd never seen this. I wasn't even sure what I was when I started reading it.

I'm like, oh, my goodness, this is my dad. And some of it was history of his life. I mean, I remember reading. He told me and he wrote it to me. I was probably 10 years old. I never read it then.

I'm reading it now. And I remember he said he decided to become a pilot when he saw Charles Lindbergh fly over. He was in Ohio on the Spirit of St. Louis.

He looked up in the sky and said, I want to become an airline pilot, which he ended up becoming an airline pilot. And then he walked me through his life and then he sort of said how valuable it was to have a son like me. Again, it was a treasure, you know, because it was written down. One of my favorite memories with you was a surprise birthday party I pulled off when you had turned 50. Was it 50?

It's like a year ago. And I had all of your closest friends write a letter to you. Well, you said bring a gag gift and like a letter or tribute.

Yeah. And so we had the party. It was a surprise and it was only men.

But I went down just to video some of it kind of secretly stashed away and I would record it. And all these men read letters of how you had impacted their lives. And I could tell that you loved it. And then I had three more letters. None of our sons were home and they couldn't come to the party, but they had all written letters to you. And I got to read those to you and I have never seen you cry in my whole life like you cried when I read those letters to you.

Why? Like, what was that? I remember feeling as you read C.J. Austin and Cody's letter, I remember thinking I could die now and I'd be a satisfied man. It was like everything I hope to do in my life, they were affirming, you know, the legacy that I was handed had been changed, was going to be a different legacy going forward.

Again, not a perfect legacy, but a godless legacy was becoming a godly legacy. They were thanking me for being the man and husband and dad in their life. So, you know, again, you surprised me.

I had no idea. And not only were the other 10 or 12 guys' letters powerful, because, you know, it was like, thank you for your impact in their life. But when you read the sons, I mean, I was like wiping snot off my face.

I had never seen you cry that hard in my life. Yeah. And I'm just thinking, boy, oh boy, there's a man listening that needs to hear somebody say thank you. So if you're his wife or his son or daughter, this is the day to say, dad or honey, here's what I see good in you. And I know some of you are like, I don't see anything good. There's something there that you could write down. And again, saying it is one thing and that's powerful.

That's one way to leverage. But the second way, if you write it, it's timeless. I was going to say the same thing. You might be really struggling to see the good in your kids, the good in your spouse, your parents. But when you start writing down the good things, God kind of reminds you, oh, there are good things. And then you see the person a little bit different.

You see them the way God sees them. I think it's a great exercise to do. I even remember decades ago writing a tribute to my mom because of Dennis Rainey's book about writing a tribute to your parents. And so I wrote write one to my mom. And as I'm writing it, I'm like, oh, my goodness, she was a single mom. So I thanked her. Oh, yeah, that thing was in her hallway. We put in a frame. And that was from Dennis Rainey talked about writing tributes.

And I will say this as well. When my parents had their 60th wedding anniversary, I had a scrapbook put together of pictures of them over the years. And so my brothers and I all wrote letters to them. All the spouses wrote letters to them, the in-laws. And then 12 grandsons and their wives, the boys who were married, wrote in this book. My parents sat.

Do you remember this? They sat for probably two hours. And all they did was read these words and read these letters and weep.

It was beautiful. Yeah. So we're talking about three ways to leverage your words in your marriage and in your family. First one, say it. Second one we just talked about was write it. Here's the third one. And it's sort of the same, but it's different.

Choose it. And choose it means choose specific words for specific people in specific times. So in other words, this very important as a mom or dad, when you're looking at your son or daughter, speak words of life that apply directly to who they are. Yeah. It's not like, hey, you're a great kid.

It's specific to who they are. Man, I see that God's really gifted you as a leader. I see that God's really gifted you in your writing abilities. I see that God's gifted you. I'm thinking of each of our sons. You're amazingly gifted in the area of any I.T.

work or engineering kind of things. You're talking about C.J.? Yeah. Yeah. And I can remember driving with him when he was a teenager and specifically saying, C.J., God's going to use that technical gift you have.

I don't have it. You got it in a powerful way someday, you know, because it's easy to think some gifts aren't going to be there down on the stage and preaching or writing. And yet, you know, speaking life in that way. And one of the books I read years ago talked about start with these phrases. And this is a good way to like, well, what would I say? Start with, I remember when and speak something specific, a memory or I have noticed what or I hope you know this because here's the thing. You'll find out. They probably don't know because you've maybe never said it or written it down or I'm really glad that or I've been thinking. I mean, these are just great ways to start a conversation that gets really specific.

And you can just write a short specific note that will literally possibly change their life. I'll never forget when I was a little boy, second grade, I well, actually, first grade, we moved. My family went through a divorce.

We moved from New Jersey to Ohio. Now it's a single mom. My dad's out of the picture. My two older brothers and older sister, 10 years older, sort out of the picture.

It's just myself. I'm in first grade and my little brother. So I'm what, seven years old, six and a half, seven years old. My little brother dies of leukemia. So now looking back, you talk about trauma.

Oh, yeah. Major trauma going through. So I'm in first grade at a new school. And I'm not there a month when they came in and said, we're going to hold you back. You're not going to go to second grade. You're going to repeat first grade because the school you were in in New Jersey wasn't as advanced. That's traumatic too for a little boy.

Oh, especially one who's competitive like me. And then they put me in speech therapy. And the only thing I was good at back in those days was recess.

I could dominate, you know, in the playground. I could win at sports and speech therapy class was when the class went out to recess. Oh, you couldn't go to recess.

It was the worst. So anyway, I'm in this speech therapy class, which made me feel dumb. You know, all the smart kids didn't have to be in here.

Only a few not advanced, not as smart kids. And I'll never forget. I wish I could tell your name. I think it was Mrs. Humphreys, if I'm remembering her name right, looked at me one day in speech class and said these words.

David Wilson, someday you will speak to thousands on the stage. Wow. And of course, you know, I just looked at her like, no, I won't. Not me. You got the wrong kid. I'm in speech therapy class. It's not going to be me. And I'm again, I'm in trauma at that point.

But here I am. Remembering the power of her saying it. She sort of wrote it and it was specific. She chose. That's the third way to leverage your words is choose it. She chose to be very specific. I mean, I didn't know there's a thing called prophecy. And she sort of was pathetic in seeing the future.

But think about how powerful those words were. I remember with each of our kids, we would do something special with them on their birthdays. And Austin, our second born, he loved literature. He loved books. So by the time he was in high school, I was like, what do you want to do today? Let's just do something really special that would be unique for you.

And I said, I have an idea. I found this super old, the oldest bookstore in downtown Detroit that has the oldest books ever. And let's just go there and try to find some first edition books. I know this sounds weird to some people, but this was his thing and he loved it.

And I remember driving home from that. We had gotten these old books that he always wanted to have a library, which is so unusual for a 16 year old. And I remember saying to him like, man, Austin, this is pretty unique, your love for literature, your love for books, your love for writing.

You've been like this since you were a little boy. I can't wait to see what God does with that. I think it'll be something in this area. And so now he has his own literary agency and he's doing his dream. But that first came from someone identifying it and then saying it and choosing it and writing it, really all the things that you said.

Yeah. And so I would hope we would hope that today would be a day that you as a spouse or you as a parent or even as a child to a parent would choose the words you say, say it or write it or both. This could literally change somebody's life. You have the power of life in your tongue. Speak it, use it wisely. And Dave, I was thinking even as an application or homework, what would this look like for your dinner table sometime this week to sit down and talk about this topic of the power of our words and even asking your kids if they're in your home or maybe it's your grandkids? What have been some of the most positive words that someone has said to you? That would be a great conversation. And then ask, have there been any negative words that people have said to you that have been really hard to take? And that gives you guys a chance as a family to be really super vulnerable. But then with those negative words to take those and say, oh, man, I'm really sorry that that was said to you.

This is what I see in you. That could be really fun as a family to walk through and speak life to one another. Some great application ideas from Dave and Ann Wilson, as we've heard about the power of words, and I think any of us can think back in our own lives to things our parents may have said. Some of those things that may have left scars, but other things that may have encouraged us or spurred us on. Or maybe there's the absence of things said.

Maybe you never had a parent who said, I love you. I'm proud of you. I believe in you. As parents today, we can make those deposits in our children's lives. We can use our words, as Dave Wilson just said, to speak life into our children. This is a subject that Dave and Ann touch on in their new book, No Perfect Parents. It's a book that we have available in our Family Life Today Resource Center. You can go online at to request your copy or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website is or call 1-800-358-6329.

1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today to request your copy of the book, No Perfect Parents from Dave and Ann Wilson. And we want to take a minute today just to say how grateful we are to those of you who are not only longtime listeners to Family Life Today, but there's a small, select group of you in every community where Family Life Today is heard, a group that makes this program possible for you and your fellow listeners. It's those of you who donate financially to the Ministry of Family Life Today and help us expand the reach of this ministry to more people, more often. We especially are grateful for those of you who are monthly legacy partners. Your investment in this ministry is actually an investment in the lives and marriages and families of the hundreds of thousands of people who are tuning in every day or listening to Family Life Today via podcast.

Thanks for making this possible through your financial support. And we hope you can join us again tomorrow when we're going to talk about what we can do as parents to be better listeners, the kind of listeners who make it easier and more comfortable for our children to open up to us. Becky Harling joins us for that. We hope you can join us as well. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapeen. We will see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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