Proverbs 18:21
“The tongue has the power of life and death…”

In my last post, “Which End of Criticism Are You On?” I discussed the topic of criticism and how often times, while we don’t like to receive criticism, we frequently give it to others as we tend to criticize what we don’t understand. In today’s post, I want to talk about a better way we can respond to others and why it is important.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit, a premier leadership event in which some of the worlds foremost leaders speak on, well, you guessed it, leadership related topics. At the conference, one of my all time favorite speakers, Andy Stanley, delivered a compelling message and I would like to share one of his key points with you today.

During his presentation, Stanley discussed how we often respond to others and the impact it can have.


He contrasted the difference between responding to someone with a list of “Hows” versus just saying,“Wow!”


Let me elaborate. Picture for a moment your spouse, child, family member, friend, employee, etc. comes to you with an idea. Excitedly, they share their brilliant thought with you. As you consider what they have said, what happens when you immediately respond with a list of “Hows?” How are you going to do that? How are you going to pay for that? How are you going to get others on board with that? The list of “Hows” is truly limitless. Consider what has happened to you when someone has done that.


More often than not, a list of “Hows” stops us in our tracks. The dream dies, the vision fades, the enthusiasm dissipates.


Conversely, imagine after considering what someone has shared, you simply respond by saying, “Wow! Tell me more.” Energy levels increase, creative juices flow, faith if fueled. What a difference a simple change in one’s response can have!

As I sat and listened to Stanley, I was reminded of the idea that God often gives us the what before the how. God gives us a picture of what we are to accomplish, but provides answers to all of the hows one step at at time as we follow Him in faith. I am personally experiencing this first hand. God has placed an idea clearly on my heart, something I am certain He is calling me towards, but I honestly have no answers to all of the hows other than faith in that fact that with God all things are possible.

Proverbs 18:21 tells us “The tongue has the power of life and death…” The next time someone comes to you with an idea, a God inspired dream perhaps, choose to breathe life into them by simply saying, “Wow! Tell me more.” As Stanley said, “If someone has an idea, how much does it cost you to lean in and say, “WOW!” On the other hand, assess the possible damage that can occur if you unintentionally “How” a dream to death and kill the very work God is doing in someone’s life.


It doesn’t take much to respond with “Wow!” versus “How” and yet its long term impact can be monumental.


The next time someone comes to you with an idea, purpose to replace “How” with “Wow” and just see what God does.


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