The Power of Words

Jan 31, 2021

Today’s reflection is shared by Fr. Michael Schleupner. Fr. Mike offers weekly Mass for the Sisters of Bon Secours and also provides spiritual direction to our guests during some of our directed retreats. He will be with us for this summer’s August retreat. You can learn more about it by clicking here. Let’s take a few quiet moments to read this important message…

The Power of Wordspower of words

Our words are important.

In fact, they are powerful. We need to be aware of this and be careful in our choice of words. For example, the words that we speak to our children can have a great effect on how they feel about themselves. The words that we speak to other adults can have a great effect on what they end up doing.

In today’s gospel passage, we hear Jesus calling the first apostles. We see accounts of this in all four gospels, and Jesus sends the apostles out to do two things. They are to preach the good news and to cast out demons. Those two dimensions of their ministry go together. By their preaching, by the words they use, they can cast out demons that are destructive, life-taking. Or, they can stir up and give free rein to these very same demons.

Six Rules for Words

In a similar way, Jesus also sends us to preach the good news and to cast out demons. So again, our words are important, and we need to be aware of that. I have been thinking about this for a long time and have come up with six rules for our choice of words.

There may be more, but these are the six that I have. So, here goes.

Rule 1: Use words that respect and that do not belittle.

Respect others as persons with feelings and needs like our own. Speak to them as we ourselves want to be spoken to. Do not use words that belittle and make others seem stupid or of no consequence. Chances are we would only do this because we ourselves feel diminished in some way and we should deal with that inner personal issue.

Rule 2: Use words that are unitive and not divisive.

Speak of something that we have in common with the other person. Try to identify and accent the common ground that we share. Do not use words that divide or make divisions worse. Especially don’t draw rigid lines of good versus bad or right versus wrong that may demonize others and separate us from them.

Rule 3: Use words that are reconciling and not hurtful.

Be humble enough to ask for forgiveness if you have fouled up. And be willing to grant forgiveness or at least remain silent if you have been offended. Do not retaliate with words that are even more hurtful than what was said or done to you. Don’t feel that you have to get even to save face.

Rule 4: Use words that are persuasive and not coercive.

Treat others as reasonable persons like yourself. Try to share your point of view and invite them to look at it. Don’t try to coerce or force others into seeing things your way. Don’t manipulate others especially with guilt or any kind of threat.

Rule 5: Use words that bring out the best and not the worst in others.

Use words that affirm a child’s gifts and encourage a child to develop their own unique talents. Use words that motivate other adults to be giving of themselves in kind and constructive ways. Do not use words that discourage a teen and make them feel that they are a failure. And do not use words that incite other adults to act out of anger or vengeance.

Finally, Rule 6: Use words that are truthful and not untruthful.

Say things that you know to be true, even if they are not in your best interest. Be willing to admit if you are not sure whether something you are saying is really based in fact. Don’t say things that are untrue or lies. This will only weave a web of dysfunctional and hurtful relationships.


I hope these rules are helpful. With them, I believe that we will be able to do as Jesus commissions the apostles: to preach the good news and cast out demons.

~Fr. Michael Schleupner

If you would like to receive all of Fr. Mike’s “Inbox Inspirations” please click here.