For ten years I have sent countless e-mails, left many voicemail messages and walked away from thousands of one-on-one conversations in the role of a pastor. I try to be mindful of every word that I speak.
I am always cautious of any phrase that seems like a gimmick or might be taken as insincere. If you have spent much time in Christian circles, and especially in ministry, you know that there are many phrases that have their day in the limelight. I prefer to have a point, a purpose in mind, and don’t like gimmicks. As a result, there is one phrase that I have avoided using . . . until recently.
Even as a pastor, I have been wary about using the phrase, “God bless.” You may think that I sound a little crazy, because every pastor you have ever spoken to has closed every email, every conversation, even Sunday services with some form of this phrase. “Be blessed.” “Blessings!” “God bless.”
Too often we can even close a conversation by randomly passing God’s blessing on someone. Do we take notice of what we are saying? Is it just another way of saying, “Goodbye,” or do we really mean it?
And then there are some harder questions to ask. What if that person is living a lifestyle that precludes them from receiving blessings from Heaven? What if that person came to you for God’s blessing but has chosen a path that is directly opposed to God’s Word? Are we automated blessing machines that spew out positive messages when we should be pointing people back to right relationship with God?
Maybe this is why I made a decision early on to stay away from the phrase. It is normal. It is expected. It is cliché.
So what changed? What made me decide that sending someone off with God’s blessing was worth the effort?
I don’t recall the person I was speaking with or the situation that they faced. I only remember signing a message, very sincerely, with God’s blessings upon them and their family. When I almost deleted the line, I decided to leave it in there. In my heart I knew that I was not just spewing another random phrase. This was my hope for that family and their situation, the unshackled, unhindered blessing of Heaven upon them.
After all, how can I truly hope and pray for people and their situations if I do not sincerely desire God’s blessing in their lives? How can I leave someone with, “Have a good one” (my old phrase of choice), when what they need is the hand of God to touch them and intervene in their situations?
Since then, I feel free to use some form of “God bless” at the end of communications and services. I do not always use it, but it sure comes out a lot more than it used to. It is my sincere hope for every person that I speak to, and we need God’s touch now more than ever, regardless of how good we think we have it.
With that, let me sign off. I pray God’s blessings on you, your family and your situation today.
[Q:] What Christian phrases are you intentional about using or avoiding? What motivated your decision?