As someone who has recently become a medical writer, I am well aware of the power words have — power to influence, to educate, to entertain, to tug at the emotions, to change lives. I love my job and it seems a very good fit for me — it combines my love for science and for writing, my attention to detail and creativity, and my love of learning and variety. And though it’s not an obvious choice of job for someone who wants to make a difference, I do find it very rewarding. I feel I am making a difference in various ways, whether it’s by promoting drugs that can be a big help to certain people, providing good service to our clients, helping my busy colleagues with their projects, helping my company to become more successful and influential, etc. These ways of making a difference are relevant for many other types of jobs too.
I’ve always been a lover of stories and of sharing stories. I’ve been told that I write in a way that tells a story, both in scientific and personal writings. As a medical writer, I feel that I am helping pharmaceutical companies tell the stories of their drugs and their research. I love to learn and to share knowledge with others, but not just for the sake of increasing knowledge — I want what I learn to change me, and make a difference for others. I think the main way I feel that scientific knowledge changes me is that it gives me insight into the creativity of the Creator, reveals mysteries of His intricate design, and further reveals that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Of course, scientific knowledge about health can also make a big difference in helping people to make choices regarding their own health. When applying for medical writing jobs, I was particularly drawn to the companies who considered one of their core values to write in a way that really connects with people in order to shift their beliefs, change their behaviours, and ultimately improve their lives.
But the stories I’m most passionate about are personal life stories — I love to share my story, and to hear others’ stories. When someone shares their story, they are sharing the depths of their heart, and I get to really know them. I am a huge believer in the power of our stories, and I think we can sometimes learn far more from a story than from simply sharing knowledge. Stories can really stick in people’s heads, and also can touch their hearts deeply. And with personal stories, people can draw parallels between their story and your story, and this can bring a change in their story. Now some of you may think that your story is insignificant or too broken, but the truth is that the power in stories is much more in how you tell them than in the content. In the song ‘Turning Page’ by Sleeping at Last, there is a line that goes “though we’re tethered to the story we must tell, when I saw you, well I knew we’d tell it well.” In life, we suffer many difficulties, & we’re not so much in control of the content of our story, but we do have power over how it is written, i.e. the way we live & how we respond to our circumstances. Another line in the song goes “your love is my turning page where only the sweetest words remain.” What I believe this means is that love can re-write our story. I have found that God’s love has so transformed me that it has re-written my story — redeeming all the brokenness and mistakes I’ve made, so that they reveal God’s goodness and faithfulness.
I do believe all words have power; often much more than we realise. I really desire for my words, whether written or spoken, to be God’s words — that they will be what people need to hear, and that they will bring positive change to their lives. I’ve been inspired by Isaiah 50:4 recently, and it has become my prayer that my tongue will be taught by God, and my ears receptive to His voice, so that ‘I may know how to sustain with a word (those who are) weary’. The bible talks a lot about the power of words, both for good and for evil. Proverbs 18:20 says that there is the power of life and death in the tongue, and in other places it says that words can deeply harm, but can also bring healing (Proverbs 12:18; 15:4). Words can feed and sustain the spirit of those who hear them (Deuteronomy 8:3, Proverbs 10:21), and when we speak life-giving words to others it also sustains and satisfies us (Proverbs 18:20–21). Pastor David Yonggi Cho believes that our words also have power to speak things into being, and writes this in his book ‘The Fourth Dimension, “Claim and speak the word of assurance, for your word actually goes out and creates. God spoke and the whole world came into being. Your word is the material which the Holy Spirit uses to create.”
There are 2 analogies in the bible that spring to mind about the power of words. One is of words being like a sword — rash words are likened to sword thrusts in Proverbs 12:18, but God’s Word is called a double edged sword that pierces through the soul and spirit and discerns our thoughts and hearts (Hebrews 4:12). God’s words have power to penetrate through our hearts and souls like a surgeon’s knife, so that things that harm us or hold us back are removed and our issues are dealt with — so that we can be healed and transformed. His word also has power against the powers of darkness, and is our weapon that enables us to overcome (Ephesians 6:17). The other analogy is of words being like a fire — James 3:5–6 describes our tongue as a small fire that can set a whole forest alight, bringing destruction. But our words can also bring God’s fire — a passionate love that transforms lives and destroys the works of darkness. Jeremiah describes God’s words like a fire in his heart that he cannot keep in (Jeremiah 20:9). When God’s love truly ignites our hearts, it cannot be suppressed — our lives become transformed and we cannot help but share it with others.
Since our words have such power, we should be careful about what we say, but also be encouraged that our positive words have more impact than we realise. We don’t need to necessarily say much to make a difference, and if we talk a lot we’re more likely to say the wrong things (Proverbs 10:19). And we don’t have to shout from the rooftops for our words to make a difference. The song ‘Turning Page’ ends with this line: “With a whisper we will tame the vicious seas, like a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees.” Sometimes the words that are whispered in an intimate moment make more of a difference then the words shouted to many people. The still small voice of God impacted Elijah more than the loud displays of God’s power (1 Kings 19:11–13). And God is a big fan of using things that seem small and insignificant to change the world. So don’t worry if you don’t feel your words are being heard by many people; you may be making a world of difference to those who do hear you. And remember that actions often speak louder than words — the story you live is just as important, if not more so, than the story you tell.