We have laughed over the years about the old quip from motivational speaker and writer Zig Ziglar, “This morning did…you wake up to an alarm clock or an opportunity clock?” But we also appreciate the wisdom laced into that statement, because our individual perspectives and sense of purpose for each day will affect its course in dramatic ways. A proverb that is part of our shared tradition can help guide us:

“Life and death is in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Whether we are aware of it or not, each day we walk around wielding enormous power—to fill people with life or to drain them of life by our simple choice of words. To tear down or to build up. To give strength or to enervate. To encourage or to discourage. To heal or to wound. It is an amazing power that we possess. It is an extraordinary potentiality that we roll out of bed with each day. Quite literally, we have the capacity with our words to change the trajectory of lives every single day.

Whoa…that’s a weighty thing. Let’s reflect on that for a moment. Reminds us of a line from the book, Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard, “Do we even realize the power we so blithely invoke?” Selah. 

This morning we woke up to an opportunity clock. Words are so powerful. “I love you.” “I forgive you.” “You are beautiful.” “It is going to be okay.” Imagine how those words land in hearts with such enlivening force and resonance.

One of the real struggles for so many members of modern society is to have a clear sense of daily purpose, a raison d’être, to find meaning in the daily grind. This proverb provides a very grand sense of purpose for each day. It offers a simple yet sublime way to change the world. A very wise man named Mr. Rogers (yes, that Mr. Rogers) once remarked that, “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”

Can you remember words of kindness and encouragement that tumbled from someone’s lips and landed in your heart and mind that changed your life…shaped your life…saved your life? You can be that change agent, that healer, that restorer, that hope giver, that life changer TODAY!

Click here to purchase Rabbi Daniel Cohen’s book, What Will They Say About You When You Are Gone?

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