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By:  V. Osteen

It was in the news recently that renowned artist, Thomas Kincaid, died at the young age of 54. He was known as the Painter of Light, and millions of homes host his artwork. It's amazing to think about all the people who have been touched and inspired both by his life and his beautiful images.

You may not see yourself as an artist like Thomas Kincaid, but the truth is that we are all artists. We all have creative ability because we are made in the image of a creative God. We create impressions with the words we speak. You could say words are our brush strokes and the hearts of others are our canvases. With every word, good or bad, we are leaving a lasting image on the lives of others. That's why scripture encourages us to choose our words carefully because life and death are in the power of the tongue.

A beautiful painting isn't just about the colors; it's about the technique the artist uses to apply the color as well. A skillful artist chooses his brush strokes carefully, and we should also be careful with the delivery of our words so that we can create a positive, encouraging masterpiece on the hearts of our family members, friends and coworkers.

I learned this lesson the hard way when I was trying to encourage our son, Jonathan, to practice his guitar. I was driving the kids home from school one day and thinking about all the loose ends I'd left dangling on that particular afternoon. You might say I was feeling a bit stressed, and I let that stress come right through my words when I sharply asked, "Jonathan, have you practiced your guitar at all this week?"

Before he could answer, I continued, "You know, if you don't practice your guitar now, you'll be sorry down the road when you want to play in the band at church and you're not good enough." On and on I went, trying to "encourage" my eleven-year-old son to practice his guitar with enthusiasm and passion, and yet, I could see his countenance deflating and becoming more discouraged by the minute. Suddenly, I became aware of my words and tone and realized they weren't encouraging or inspiring. Immediately, I stopped myself and said, "Jonathan, I'm sorry. I realize I wasn't very encouraging just now. Will you forgive me?"

I looked at him in the rearview mirror, and he just smiled at me so sweetly. Right then, I decided to use my words to paint a positive image. I said, "Jonathan, you are so talented musically. That's why I want you to practice because I know the more you practice, the better you'll become." I changed my voice from the voice of discouragement and defeat to the voice of encouragement and victory.

Just like anything else, it takes practice to become a skillful artist with your words, but anyone can do it! Even when you have to bring correction or instruction, you can position your words so that they will be more easily received.

Always remember, whether you're a boss working with an employee or a parent working with a child, the goal should always be to help others reach a higher level. Choose your words carefully, wrap them in love and affirmation, and create a masterpiece in the hearts of the people in your life!

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18, NIV).


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