No one knows the power of words more than me.

I grew up with a brother three days less than a year older than me. Most people thought we were twins. However, he was three grades ahead of me. He was super smart. He skipped the 1st and 2nd grade. Academics was his thing and he made sure that I knew that it wasn’t mine.

“You’re stupid.”

“You’ll never go to college.”

“You’re an idiot.”

I was never mad at him for these words. I simply believed him because he was so smart. He skipped two grades, remember? I liked school, but I struggled. I wasn’t in the advanced classes by any means. So, I began to think maybe my brother was onto something. Maybe college wasn’t in the cards for me.

Of course, there was my mom, always speaking positive words.

“You are so smart.”

“I’m so proud of you.”

“You are so funny.”

But my mom had to say stuff like that so I let my brother’s words outweigh my mother’s.

Then something happened. Actually someone happened. It was my 6th grade geography teacher. He captured my imagination in a way that no other teacher had. His class was challenging, but I aced it and I couldn’t believe it. How could a less-than-average kid ace a difficult class? That was the first time I started thinking maybe my brother didn’t know me as well as I thought he did. My mother’s positive words became louder as my brother’s words faded into the background. My grades changed in all of my classes. Several years later, I graduated in the top 5% of my class, went to college on academic scholarships and graduated college Suma Cum Laude.

The moral of this story: Words matter more than you know. You can never say something positive too many times. Chances are, someone’s saying something negative to that same child. And even if the negative words are winning today, there may be a point when all your positive words begin to drown out the negative. Speak louder. Speak more often. Never give up. Your words matter!

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Kenny Conley

Kenny Conley, a 15-year veteran of Children’s Ministry, currently serves as the NextGen pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. His passion to see the next generation come to know and follow Christ propels him to constantly rethink how the church approaches ministry to kids and their families. Kenny loves to network and collaborate with ministry leaders around the world to push ministry to new levels. He lives in Texas with is wife Sara and children, Titus and Genevieve.

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