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?
2 thoughts on “Why I Decided to Use a Common Phrase from Christian Lingo”
To whom does this reply go? Who processes these responses?
Sometimes we get so retentive that we become reluctant to call upon God to bless what we have decided is the unblessable by not sending them away with the “God bless” benediction. Another way to look at this and our struggle with our power to bless in Jesus name is to come to an understanding that when we speak God’s blessings upon somebody, we send the Holy Ghost after them. That’s what we are here for, among other things.
Let none perish because we wrestle with what we have freely received (Matthew 10:8) and hesitate to freely give. Only God can watch over His word, His blessings, His expressions and actions of generosity via His children to perform it/them — let us continue to cast His hopes and blessings as His children upon others as we His ambassadors should. I mean, we pray for the unsaved to be saved. The backslidden to return. The professing Christian to be Christian indeed.
Likely somebody said “God bless” to me and had those words chase after me in my best of times and my worst of times. Before I was saved they might have offended me. Perhaps I considered the source as a “holy moley” and got irked by the impact of the words. Otherwise, somebody wanted God to bless me into the kingdom (when they knew I was not in it), back into the kingdom (if they thought I was outside or away from it), or back on to the path that leads to the kingdom (if they thought I was veering off the straight and narrow along the way) and so forth.
But, yes, James 5:20 counsels us to turn the sinner from his errant ways, and let’s do that in earnest. Then when we send him/her on his way, we still can say, “God bless.”
In the end, however, we all go through phases of this and that on our growth curves. In retrospect, we may look back and think that we were by times too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good, caught up in this mode or that (remember the WWJD time and others), but we have to know that when we did what we did and do what we do had or has been all done as we were living and walking in the Spirit — you know what, God does bless that which is rightly said, rightly sent, rightly intended in His eyes. God bless!
God has promised that His word will not go out without consequence. Thanks for your thoughts. And keep spreading our Father’s hope and blessings.
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