Words do really matter. They are important. Clearly, we’ve all witnessed this with our New Roman Missal Liturgical changes that occurred this past Fall. But it’s not just at Mass where our WORDS matter. As youth ministers we have to believe this especially as we read WORDS in Scripture, listen to WORDS from homilies, talks, and teachings, sing WORDS to praise songs, and finally pray WORDS aloud at retreats, Life nights, or one-on-one. Call it consistency or advocacy, I’ve found that the more we are intentional with our words the better we will be serving in God’s ministry. Scripture gives us many verses that focus on the importance of WORDS.
Here are two:
“They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone” (Titus 3:2).
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Every conversation we have with someone is an opportunity that reveals to whom our hearts belong. The next conversation with a teen, parent, parish staff or a stranger has the opportunity for God’s grace to be planted. Here is a list of words/phrases that are often used in ministry. Perhaps, if you’re like me, some changes with our WORDS need to change in order to help change some hearts.
Teens prefer: “Good luck!”
Better to say: “God Bless”, “God be with you”
This saying is often overused and not personal. By changing it the teens will know that whatever the result, God is present, whether at a sporting event or taking a test.
We often call the Life Teen agers: “The kids”
Better way to refer to them: “The Teens/agers”, “the youth”, “the adolescents”
Although they are someone’s biological children, they’re most likely not yours. The age of the adult may play a factor in how they feel/relate “to the kids” so work with them. By not calling them “kids” it heightens the professionalism of our jobs.
Teens Prefer: “Wow/that’s awesome/that’s rad.”
Better response: “Praise God”, “Praise the Lord”
See Colossians 3:17 above. It also helps the teens reflect that the blessing is from God and not just from our own gift, talent, or success.
Teen: “Your talk was awesome!”
YM/Core: “Thanks! I worked hard on it.”
Teen: “Your talk was awesome!”
YM/Core: “Praise God, thank you”
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11
We might say: “When Father brings the monstrance out . . . ”
Better response: “When Father processes in with our Lord/the Blessed Sacrament.”
While the monstrance is important in Eucharistic adoration it is the Lord who is of the most importance. We cannot adore Jesus if He is not in the monstrance.
We might say: “You guys . . .”
Rather address: “Ya’ll” (for our Texan friends), “You guys and girls/ladies and gentlemen”, “you teens”, “you youth”, “You youngins/younglings” (I dare you to say it.)
This phrase change will sharpen our speech for clarification and for professionalism purposes as well.
Teens prefer: “See you at Church!”
Better response: “See you at Mass” AND/OR “See you at Youth Group/Life Night, etc.”
Notice the distinction. Some teens perceive if they go to church for youth group it’s the same as going to church for Mass.
So, what are some words or phrases that you hear or say often that need fine-tuning?