A response to a LinkedIn survey about using cuss words in the workplace made me frown. The effect of the message was: it’s just words, get over it.
I’ve noticed in the workplace that it is now commonplace to use profanity, even during meetings. At first I thought it was being used for shock value, to make people pay attention. In some cases it may be used to illustrate the extent of frustration at a policies or roadblocks in a project. But there are some that use that type of language in their everyday speaking. In these cases too, there is that sense of, “This is the way I talk. You’re not going to change me, so don’t even try.” But when you hear these words over and over again, they seem to come to mind more readily than the words you want to say. Words have an impact.
While no words we say are as mighty as God’s who spoke creation into being, they are the basic building blocks of communication. The first thing Adam did in the garden of Eden was to identify each animal, basically giving each a name or a label. This allowed him and his descendants the ability to have order and reference points in their communications. When later in the Bible we see man trying to grasp at divinity by building the tower of Babel, God stayed true to His promise to Noah and didn’t destroy man, but rather confused his language. Because they were unable to communicate effectively with others, the tower project was abandoned. And when Jesus stood before Pilate, it was the crowd, stirred up by those plotting against him, who called for the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate, fearing an uprising gave into the demands of the crowd. Words have power.
The words we say, even those that may be sugar-coated, convey to others who we are and what we believe. We can use them to build up others and the Kingdom of God, or we can use them to cause hurt, strife, doubt, and destruction. Those that subscribe to the belief that they can use whatever words they want and it’s up to others to “deal with it,” demonstrate a prideful sense of self and a complete lack of compassion towards others. For those of us who have to live and work alongside these individuals, we must take up the battle daily to not let that language invade our minds, our tongues, or our peace in Christ. Let us strive to convey words that build up rather than devastate and destroy.