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importance of words

Here’s a blog post from David Foster, a church planter in Nashville, about the importance of words:’


Words are important.  Choosing them and using them in the right context protect their meaning.  That’s why I’m committed to stop using three words that are over used and misused in our culture by almost everyone.  You’ve heard them.  You’ve used them.  I read them every day:  awesome, amazing, and incredible.

I read pastors’ descriptions of their past weekend services.  And almost without exception, they are awesome, amazing, and incredible.  Really? Every weekend, every message, every experience, every day is awesome, amazing, and incredible? No, it’s not.  Some are, maybe a few.  But when we use these words to describe a good service, an inspiring service, one that moved us, one that was average, or even one that was bad and we’re trying to cover up, we lose the meaning and the punch that these words were intended.

A thing that is awesome, amazing, and incredible is just that.  It’s rare.  It’s at the top of the experience ladder.  It doesn’t happen that often.  It is scarce.  That’s what makes it awesome, amazing, and incredible.

Why am I making such a big deal?  Because words matter. And oftentimes we become lazy.  We choose words that are easy to grab out of the air, or to see on a page, and we ascribe meaning to everyday experiences.  That’s really sad because there are so many words available to describe everyday experiences, relationships, and encounters.  We ought to find ways in our writing and our conversation to branch out and use more words, more adjectives that describe what we’re seeing and experiencing and wanting to relate.

So when you are tempted, either in writing or speaking, to use these well-worn words, pause, hesitate, get a thesaurus, and try to find a more expressive word that accurately describes the moment.

There is another issue that gives me cause for concern when it comes to these overstatements.  And that is that we’re trying to hide what we’re really going through because we want to be like everyone else, or that we want to seem better and more spiritual than we really are.  So often we say a service was amazing.  An experience, a conference was amazing.  A talk, a book, something that we’ve seen other people comment about and we want to be part of the group and the crowd, so we use the same words and have the same experiences that they do without really adding anything into the conversation.

What’s wrong with saying in your blog, or conversation, “This was an off experience, this was a down day.”  Being honest and truthful helps give texture, pace, and momentum to our conversation; not the least of which encourages other people who are not always having an awesome, amazing, and incredible day.

So I am going to work hard to fast from using these words.  I’m going to choose other words to express the experiences and convey the content.  I challenge you to do the same thing.  I know we’ll all benefit.