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The Power of Our Words

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Introduction and Alignment

When I was in high school, my psychology teacher mentioned that you should not use your cruise control when it’s raining. Since that time, when driving in the rain, I would take my car off cruise. I mentioned the tip to my car-savvy husband, thinking I had a nugget of knowledge to share, only to be met with, “What are you talking about? That’s not true.” As a result of that one statement from my teacher, I had changed my behavior. The truth is, I never even checked to see if what that teacher told me was true. I never asked someone else or did any research to see if he knew what he was talking about. I took the word of this person I spent a few hours with a week when I was 16 years old. For the rest of my life, his words stuck with me.

I wonder how many other offhand comments like this I have taken to heart and adopted as truth in my life. How often have I made statements to other people without concrete evidence of truth?

Words are powerful. We take the things people say to us to heart whether we intend to do so or not. Words have ways of sneaking past our defense mechanisms and penetrating deeply into our soul. We might try to disregard or shrug off the things others say to us, yet we find ourselves recalling the hurt, the sting, or the joy and comfort those words stirred up. The words of a friend, neighbor, or mere acquaintance can affect us, for better or worse. In hindsight, perhaps I should have checked out the words of my high school psychology teacher. After all, he didn’t even teach driver’s education.

As social workers, we sometimes forget the power of our words and actions. We are called to be encouraging, uplifting, and empowering. Likewise, we are to help our clients see the truth about themselves, knowing that the truth could set them free. Let’s face it; we work with some clients whose lives are pretty messed up and they need assistance to make positive changes. Yet, people do not change if they do not know what it is that needs changing.

Jesus said that as Christians, we are to be salt and light. In Jesus’ day, salt was used as a preservative. It was rubbed into meat to stop the rotting process. So, as salt, Christians are to stop the spread of destruction. But another thing salt does is stimulate thirst. So we are to stop the spread of destruction and stimulate a thirst for truth in others.

In addition to being salt, Christians are to be light, which means we are to proclaim the gospel and do good works. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

We are called to be salt and light—to live a godly life. God has planted us as believers in this world, including in the profession of social work. He has put His people in the culture to influence it, to make a difference.

Upon completion of this assignment, you should be able to:

  • Implement ethical, Christ-like attitudes, values, and worldview appropriate to context. (PO 1)

Resources

Background Information

For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16
When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.
Jeremiah 15:16

Instructions

  1. Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to the following discussion questions:
  2. Considering the power of words, articulate a social workers’ responsibility for and influence over those vulnerable clients we work with. Please incorporate the NASW Code of Ethics in your discussion (https://www.socialworkers.org/).
    1. Integrate the concept of being the “joy and hearts delight” into your work with clients in the social work profession. In a practical sense, how have you balanced stopping destruction and stimulating the thirst for truth in others?  
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