A Lasting Impression

Coffeecupgraphic How would you live today if you knew that you might influence someone in a significant way?  How would you live today if you knew that something you said or did might be remembered by another? 


We begin every day with the possibility of making a positive difference in someone’s life.  On the other hand, we need to also remember that what we say might be remembered by another.  And–it might be remembered because it was so negative, discouraging, etc.


In the last few weeks, I have had conversations with a number of people who have experienced some kind of disappointment or discouragement.  It is amazing how much of this is connected with what other people have said.  Words that were used.  A tone of voice.  A choice of language.


An engaged young woman spoke about her disappointment in relatives who communicated to her that marriage was foolish, silly, etc.  (Their own marriages had ended in divorce).

A young man sat through a congregational meeting at his church.  The church leaders presented some thoughts. Then church members were permitted to make comments or ask questions.  This young man was amazed by the sarcasm, the fear, and the negativity expressed by a number of church members.  Immediately after it was over, he went home and called his dad, a long time minister in another state.  He asked him, "Dad, what in the world was that?"  (His dad is a good friend of mine).

One evening, a woman was laughing, talking and just enjoying herself with a few friends at a gathering.  One man, with a smirk on his face,  asked her if she was taking her medication.  (This was a public place and was asked in front of other people).  I saw the look on her face when he said that.  (She had taken a lot of medication through the years for a variety of reasons).   I suspect she still remembers that evening.

Sometimes, we just don’t think about what we are saying.  We don’t think about the damage that we might be doing because of what we are saying. 


I don’t want to be the one who discourages a young person who wants to get married to a good Christian young man.  I don’t want to be the one who discourages a young man by my comments in a church meeting.  I don’t want to be the one who says something flippant about someones medication and embarrasses her.


A few years ago, I was at a seminar.  A young man walked in late and sat down in one of the very few empty seats left.  The session was about to begin.  The young man turned to his right and said hello to the person sitting next to him.  Then he turned to his left.  The man sitting to his left was actually a part of the school conducting this seminar.  The young man said, "How are you this evening?"  The man glanced at him and curtly said, "fine" and looked off in another direction.  A few minutes later, this same man abruptly gathered his notebook, pen, etc. and moved to the other side of the room.  The young man watched the guy as he moved away from him.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 


My talk, my words, my behavior can make a lasting impression on people.  I want to make sure that I think about what I am saying today and the impression I may be leaving with people. 


Meanwhile, I am so thankful for people who are having a positive, encouraging impact on other people because of their words.  May their numbers increase.  And–may I be a part of their tribe.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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15 thoughts on “A Lasting Impression

  1. Great reminder!
    Today my interactions with people will be flavored with love – whether it’s work, play, church or family…. people I like or ones who drive me crazy…. when I’m angry… when I’ve been wronged…
    Thanks. I’m ready for this day.

  2. I agree with what you have said. Words can be used to tear down or to build up. In the past, sometimes I think I have been too interested in trying to tell people what they are doing wrong rather than listening to them and trying to understand where they are coming from and why they are doing what they are doing, and affirming them in the good that they ARE doing. I believe this came from a lack of faith on my part. Rather than relying on the workings of the Spirit in their lives, I felt I had to “fix” other people. It is a great relief to lay that burden down and start focusing on ways to encourage people. I pray that my words will always be those that help heal the hurts in people’s lives, not hurt them further. Good reminder, Jim. Thanks!

  3. Our pastor asked us to ask ourselves ‘what do I leave in my wake?’ it’s a really scary thing to begin asking yourself….before that I was totally unaware of how I came across and still I need reminders…. that question is still on my computer…..

  4. Most of the time I don’t think of what I am going to say before I say it but lately I have been wondering, why did God put me here in this place now with these specific people I work with, live with (my family) and church. When I do think about this I watch a little more carefully what I say and how I come across. It’s all about the big picture. Thanks for a timely message.

  5. Gail,
    I think you are right it is about the big picture. For me, if I am sure about the big picture then the intent of my day and my words become much clearer.

  6. Connie,
    Thanks for a very good comment. The last four or five years, I have tried to lower my expectations of people and raise my expectations of God. I have found this helpful. As a result, I am more likely to see the good things in people as gifts from God (Rather than an “ought” which I have the right to expect and even demand.

  7. Good words Jim. Reminds me of the Proverbs on the tongue. In some places and times I find that I’m especially better off keeping a tight rein on my tongue.

  8. Would you be open to allowing publication of this post in a church newsletter–with appropriate attribution of course?

  9. Thanks so much for this post, I know I have been on the recieving end and have also had some foul ups of my own, it was good to read that and focus on being positive. A guy in our church said a phrase once about this topic, which in someways has to be taken with a pinch of salt but I thought it was cool anyway. Encouragement Enables, Discouragement Disables.
    I think that sums up this subject fairly well.