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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Leadership Principles: The Power of Positive Words

Proverbs 18:21 says that “life and death is in the tongue.” Words are powerful in general. But there is a power in positive words that can lift someone out of the darkest pit and set them on a trajectory of hope. My college basketball coach, Dean Smith, knew the power of encouraging words. How many games he would encourage us to victory through his words! Even in the most dire of situations, he would keep giving us words of confidence and victory. In 1974, Carolina was playing Duke. Down by 8 with 17 seconds left on the clock. With each timeout and in the huddle, Coach Smith would encourage his team. He would tell his players what he believed they could do, and each thing he told them actually happened! He was like a prophet foretelling the future. Walter Davis ended up hitting a jump shot with one second left to send the game into overtime. UNC won in overtime. This is just one of many illustrations of Coach Smith’s words giving life… and ultimately victory. Ezekiel 37 tells the story of the valley of dry bones. The Lord brought Ezekiel into a valley full of bones. Dead, lifeless bones. He told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and call them to life as a real time display of God’s power and divinity. Ezekiel did as he was told and as he did, “there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone" (Ezekiel 37:7). He goes on to prophesy to the breath and as he did, “they came to life and stood up on their feet – a vast army” (Ezekiel 37:10b). What an incredible biblical account of how life and death really is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). We are called as followers of Jesus to speak life over death. To release hope over hopeless situations. To encourage one another. This gives our broken world glimpses of the beautiful salvation that comes from Jesus. Leaders, do a word inventory in your current situation. How many positive words do you speak? Now, what about negative words? Have you created a culture of hope or one of despair with your words? May you lead in a way that calls dry bones to life, mobilizing a vast army for Jesus! Our Leadership Principles blog series is inspired by David's book "It's How You Play the Game: The 12 Leadership Principles of Dean Smith." If you would like to receive this book, please go here.

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