My Words Are Powerless

Words upon words upon words.

Blah, blah, blah…

Preacher types think that they are pretty damn important. What is it about pastors that cause them to think that their words can move people to action? Why do they think anything they say can cause someone to change? For years this misguided notion has been ingrained into my head. As a communicator, if I phrased my words, weighted them just so and infused them with either a certain amount of energy or a calculated amount of emotion… I could see people respond in amazing ways.

Each and every Sunday in pulpits around America, pastors will stand and proclaim their version of the truth. It’s not ultimate truth, it’s not “gospel truth”… not to say that there isn’t truth in their words… but what power do their words really hold? And as an aside, does talking for 30-45 minutes about the truth you want to proclaim make it any more influential. Pastors, catch a clue… the more you talk, the less we listen. It’s human nature!

It’s no different here in the blog world… life imitating life. We write because we feel what we have to say is important. We write because we are clever and can twist our words in such a way as to utlimately get our point across to the reader. We write to influence, change, expose, challenge, criticize, inspire… whatever our reasons, we write.

And everyday here in this section of the blog world… bloggers line up to give their version of the truth. They write, they shock, they implore, they proclaim… but what power do their words really hold. And as an aside, does writing 1,000 word posts and comments make the truth you wish to proclaim any more influential? Oh I have been guilty of it at times too… sometimes I just can’t shutup.

Blah, blah, blah….

After years of making a living speaking hundreds of thousands of words to others as a way of leading and guiding them to deeper truths, I am left wondering if I wasn’t just talking to hear myself talk. What difference did I really make? And now as a blogger and podcaster, I am asking myself the same questions. I enjoy it, and no matter how much you beg, I won’t stop. But if I believe my words are powerless, then why do I feel the need to communicate. Do I think my words can truly change a person’s heart?

This concept hits me again this evening as I face the blank screen, completely ready to share my heart once again. As I sat down to write my thoughts on a completely different subject, and address something personal to someone close to me, I realize how little difference my words will make to the situation. And it leaves me wondering if my words have ever made a difference… really…

Then why do I talk so much, and write so much. Is it just to hear myself talk? Probably.

My words are powerless.

26 thoughts on “My Words Are Powerless”

  1. Well, Steve, I know your words have touched me on several occassions. Mostly when you write little e-mails to me encouraging me on some issue, I’m really grateful that someone out there is paying attention, and cares.And because I care about you, I care what’s on your heart, even if it doesn’t “spur me to action,” so to speak. I like reading your thoughts. But then again, that might have something to do with the fact that you are in my < HREF="http://www.pointlesswasteoftime/monkeysphere.html" REL="nofollow">monkeysphere<>.

  2. <>so why did you hit the “post” button?<>Great question. Trust me it wasn’t an impulsive decision. This one has been sitting around for a long time.Do you know how much I write that I haven’t posted?I am just asking the question… pondering the idea.Why did I post it? Maybe because like you I don’t get it.So here’s a question… why did you hit the post button? I am glad you did, but again I am just wondering.

  3. Your words aren’t powerless. They made me laugh. Out loud. In a good way. It’s so freaking refreshing to hear a Christian say “preacher types think that they are pretty damn important.” I love it. I’m a Christian, but sometimes I doubt my own label because I’m so incredibly goobed out by churchy do-dah with glitter and sprinkles and clinch-faced pauses for dramatic effect. Thanks for a refreshing insight.

  4. Steve,I wonder if this all part of your withdrawing from the church. With it comes a questioning of even the effectiveness of communicating. It seems that at times, you are still a preacher, just with a church online called “The Church of People who Hate Stupid Church People.” Thus, you are wondering if you’re beating a dead horse again.Then again – it could just be me trying to be some shrink when I’ve only taken a Psych 101 class. Yeah – like I’m smart enough to do that.And yes – I erase a lot of blogs to “really let someone have it” too. Its painful to do, but you feel better an hour later.

  5. Hey SCP,Simply not true. Too many many examples out there of what words do when they are hurtful and damaging. The opposite can be said for good words.They have changed my life. I guess the deeper question is, is it just the words or the “substance” behind the words?

  6. HOsh:Music, poetry, art, drama, etc. are the greatest things we have. Political speeches ain’t got shit on Shakespeare, but I’m sure you were just making a point.So, I agree with you, but the manipulation of the words is what is most important. What can ring the MOST true. How can you say something to make someone understand you? It’s the mixture of how and what.

  7. I don’t find words powerless, although it does appear that way, I have seen them literally destroy people. It’s weird, but when you come from it an a innocent ‘what good is my words doing anyway’ attitude then ‘yeah’ maybe you don’t see the effects. Tell you wife you ‘hate her’ everyday for 20 years she just might go absolutely crazy, kill you and herself. Now that is a ‘getting worse’ analogy if I ever seen one.Just making a point, words mean something, they always do, we are humans and we like to communicate, now for the aliens to learn our language.

  8. Our words written, spoken, and lived are more influential then we could ever know. To state the obviouse Biblical fact – God spoke the world into existance. Our words carry the same type of power. Steve – it appears there are many people who have read this blog and that have been affected by the words written. Since you seem sure of your gift of communication, with every gift comes responsability. The fact that you are weighing out your effectiveness is admirable.

  9. I have found myself wondering the same thing. “Do I make a difference?” At the risk of sounding like the sunday school kid, my aswer on a good day would be, “I hope not.” If I make a diffence, the people I have touched will have the mark of one more sin soaked person.However, if I can escape myself for even half a breath, pull my head from out betwixed my lower cheeks and relize that it is Christ that I want to make the difference, I fell a little hope. Even if only for a moment.

  10. I agree with Jenny to an extent. I believe that we need to be deliberate, careful, and sober about our thoughts and words.I think the “I Have A Dream…” and “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speeches are unique because those are examples of great leaders saying the right thing at the right time.However, you never know what word or phrase is going to make a difference in an individual’s life. All we are responsible to do is share our hearts with people. You never know – you may say something on your blog that resonates with one person halfway around the globe. You’ll never know it. No one will pat you on the back. But it was your word(s) and willingness to be open, vulnerable, etc. that made a difference in that person and/or for the Kingdom.I do appreciate, however, your frustration with pastoral types blabbing for too long and being proud of themselves. I have read a book by Hirsch & Frost called “The Shaping of Things to Come” a few times. You’d love it if you haven’t already read it. They speak about the hijacking of the church by Pastor-teachers and our lack a true Ephesians 4:11-12 gifting/leadership picture in the church. In short – pastor/teachers have screwed us in many ways; although in a healthy body of believers they are indispensable.

  11. MLK’s, “I had a dream…” were words that were followed with actions. Same with the other quotes mentioned above. Words are easy. Isn’t that on of the very reasons SCP exists?

  12. I love you for posts like this. Thanks for just being honest about things rather than trying to push stuff on people. I think that the reason preachers go so far is because even though they believe in salvation in Christ, a part of them still believes that we are redeemed by other people thinking highly of us. If you look at our entire culture and the way we all act, it is a mirror image of a middle school social ladder. We say things so we can get people to respect us more, love us more, so that we seem like a better person than everyone else.

  13. Preachers preach because they believe that they are called by God to preach, and that calling gives their words power. Many, though, let the “power” go to their head, and seem to love to hear themselves talk more than they are concerened about the calling or the message (can you say “Joel Osteen”?).I believe that you, Steve, have been called by God to do what you are doing right here, right now. Speaking the truth as God has called you to do gives your words power.

  14. Think I’ve got to side with the general consensus on this one. Words are possibly the most potent thing we possess … as the Word of Faith movement has cottoned onto.I work with children as young as 4 whose lives are already pretty screwed up because of the words they have received.Wonder if you’re getting the power of words confused with the power of sermons Steve? The lecture method is the least effective method of communicating but the one that’s the staple diet and focus of 99% of church gatherings. It’s frequently reduced to a regimented formula & technique, devoid of the ‘real authority’ which amazed people when Jesus spoke.However, a sermon imbued with that Divine authority packs an incredible punch. Greatest change in my adult lfe came about through the words of a preacher from New York … and he’ll never even know it.

  15. Well, I can’t say for sure what power your words have. However I can say I put on my PC the X3church porn watch software and it listed your site and Etcetcera Ping web sites as possible questionable porn sites.Here is the email message I received:Please see the information listed below for possible questionable websites that may have been visited over the past 4 weeks.Setup 05/30/200605/30/2006, 01:12 PM,, 08:01 AM,, 11:43 AM,

  16. Words are ideas. And ideas are the most powerful things that we have. Our worlds have been framed by ideas and words. Think of great phrases, “Ask not what your country can do for you . . . ” ” Fourscore and seven years ago…” “By the people, for the people and of the people.” “Tear down this wall.” “I have a dream.” These are all words. These all represent ideas. These ideas changed and formed our worlds. Without speaking words and new ideas into a society we have no hope of anything every changing. I am not here to blow smoke up your skirt, just to blow smoke. But words and ideas are the greatest thing that we have. And yes, blogs are a part of that.

  17. I believe the impact of words on our lives depends on who is speaking them to us and what is “behind” the words.For example: the “king” school bully who was much older and tougher than me once said “hey kid you’re ugly”. He scared me, but I didn’t really let what he said bother me for very long, only the general fear of him that many of us had. However, when my parents told me at age 13: “we are getting a divorce” – now that penetrated my very soul and has never really stopped hurting. Then, a few years after my own divorce, with her eyes looking squarely into my own, a woman who I once loved more than life itself said “I would love to marry you but I cannot because …. you’re divorced, etc.”. Of course, there have been countless times when words have built me up, showing incredible mercy – such are so many of the words in the Bible and words that I’ve hear from my wonderful wife (yes there is life after D&R and even after ensuing heartbreaks caused by cruel rejection) on a regular basis for almost 9 years.… could it be all we all need to learn how to use our words to heal? Also, Shieldsy’s comment above about “The lecture method is the least effective method of communicating but the one that’s the staple diet and focus of 99% of church gatherings.” rings so true. Maybe that’s one big reason why so many of us have heard and continue to speak so many “words of death” – especialy to those we love the most.

  18. <>However I can say I put on my PC the X3church porn watch software and it listed your site and Etcetcera Ping web sites as possible questionable porn sites.<>Well we are in good company if we are listed with the Etc people. Gotta love it.What’s funny is I just got an email from the JR over at xxxchurch… I am gonna have to ask him what’s up.As for all the other comments on this post…. I am enjoying the feedback and the analysis. Good stuff. Notice I didn’t say “free analysis” because I know it’s gonna cost me something somewhere down the line…But seriously, send me your bills. 🙂

  19. The letter to the Galatians contains about 3400 words, on average a preacher preaching through Galatians will preach 25 to 40000 words.Recently I just preached what Paul had wrote, it came to me that there was no more I could add….and yes it was powerful because they were not my words.Maybe the believers in Galatia only ever received 3500 words from Paul, maybe it took them the rest of there lives to just consume and act on those 3500 words.i don’t know but I think that maybe our words remove the power as we explain everything away…sometimes just let God speak.By the way I removed the bits of Galatians that were not relevant to us, and I never revealed from where I was reading until the end.

  20. Of course we talk just to hear ourselves talk! That’s one way in which discourse/rhetoric allows us to figure out what we think.I think the issue here, Steve, is that you spent so many years trying to Make A Difference and Bring People to Jesus. Because of that, you have a paradigm that all communication must be a means to an end, that a goal must be served. It doesn’t.Just saying.

  21. Hey, I enjoyed your blog. Thanks for being honest and open about everything. I love Jesus and love reading about people who know him too. I am a musician and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All my music is free for download. Anyway, I don’t mean to be a pest, just thought I’d share.Thanks,-Sean______________________“All my muisc is free.”

  22. I think we talk to know that we exist. See < HREF="" REL="nofollow">World of Forms<>. This would include pastors, but with (some) pastors there’s another level. They fool themselves into thinking there’s a higher purpose for their babbling because they can’t admit (to themselves) that they have doubts. But really they’re just talking for the same reason all the rest of us talk. We want to feel heard. After all, if a tree falls in the forest…In addition, I liked Brad’s analysis of why you wrote this particular post at this particular time. That’s a good $300 worth of therapy there!

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