What Will Be the Legacy of Your Words - Hope 103.2

What Will Be the Legacy of Your Words

Being an investor in words of lasting legacy takes effort, focus and heart but Jo-Anne Berthelsen says it's worth the effort.

By Ben McEachenSaturday 2 Mar 2024Hope MorningsLifeReading Time: 3 minutes

Do your words build up or tear down? As you work out what to say or write, do you consider the eternal impact of your words?
Key points
  • “Take that little pause before that hasty word, or angry word, or justifying word comes out of our mouth,” Jo-Anne says.
  • Across several decades in Christian ministry, Jo-Anne has sadly witnessed the negative effect of words
  • Swansong by Jo-Anne Berthelsen is a rally cry to encourage the weighing up of our words.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen is a Sydney author who started writing later in life, following years of school teaching and church work.

Her latest book is Swansong, a rally cry to encourage the weighing up of our words.

“What my book was trying to get us all to think about it is to just take that little pause before that hasty word, or angry word, or justifying word comes out of our mouth,” Jo-Anne told Hope Mornings.

“Take that moment to listen to God.

“Is there something I need to not say or some different way to say it?

“It’s a challenge for us all, really.”

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A challenge summed up by a guiding principle for Jo-Anne: “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

Beyond what our words might do in the immediate moment, Swansong also exhorts us to the long-term and eternal dimensions of what we say or write.

“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

Alongside reflection questions and biblical teaching, Swansong shares the experiences of Jo-Anne and others.

Across several decades in Christian ministry, Jo-Anne has sadly witnessed the negative effect of words, such as someone never returning to a church because of words spoken 50 years ago.

“That’s the way we are. Sometimes words just cut so deeply that it is really hard for them to budge,” Jo-Anne said.

“I know that I want to get to the end of my life, look back… and think, I did my best to speak words that built others up, rather than tear down.

“[Words] that gave them life rather than what might have turned them off God.”

Being an investor in words of lasting legacy takes effort, focus and heart.

Our own selfishness, justifications or busyness can be difficult to overcome.

Being an investor in words of lasting legacy takes effort, focus and heart.

Starting with herself, Jo-Anne puts the best ways with words down to the One who spoke everything into existence.

“For me, I stop and listen to God,” Jo-Anne said.

“I want my life to honour God, that’s the first point.

“In the book I’m challenging us to leave this legacy [of words] but I’m also challenging us to look at the way God has spoken to us through Scripture and directly into our hearts.”

“God has spoken to us with such love, mercy, forgiveness, encouragement, affirmation, challenge, peace, insight and humility.”

Jo-Anne also recommended imitating people who have embodied such attributes in how they have spoken or written to you.

“That is what we are called to pass on to someone else.

“By God’s Spirit, ask him to allow that mercy, grace, love and so forth to flow through our words.”

Listen to the full interview with Jo-Anne Berthelsen in the player above.


Feature image: Photo by CanvaPro