when not to talk

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

I notice that this doesn’t say “don’t have unwholesome thoughts”. It only says not to let them escape your lips. I need to be more deliberate about my self-censoring.

There is this (huge) part of me that wants to participate in the conversation so badly that I tend to say the first witty (or banal) thing that comes to mind in an effort to take part, to interact. But what I need to do is to take time to really think about everything that I want to say and make sure I really understand who it might hurt and all the implications.

Here’s the catch though: I can’t put my friends and co-workers on pause while I contemplate, so very often I may end up being left out of the flow of a conversation because I didn’t “keep up” as it were. I have to learn to be “okay” with this.

Guess what: the surest way to make certain your opinion is valued by others is to be quiet. Not just to speak quietly, but to have a quiet, contemplative spirit so that when I do open my lips people know that it’s not just the first thought that came rushing through my brain, but that I’ve given it time to percolate and become something of value. And that I took the time to listen to them first.

Ever been in a conversation with someone and you KNOW they aren’t hearing a word you are saying ? They are standing there with words almost visibly aching to fly off their lips. They can hardly stand still due to the itch to make their next statement. Too often I am that person. But I don’t want to be that person, do you?

LORD, guide my lips. Instruct my tongue as you promised in Isaiah so that I can lift up the weary. Give me a quiet spirit. Help me learn to find joy in listening.

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4 thoughts on “when not to talk

  1. It’s interesting to me that you write about this. I tend to be the quiet person in conversations, and you’re the first person who has ever said that they wanted to be more quiet. How refreshing. I knew you (and Martin) were different when we met because neither of you pestered me about being quiet (like other extroverts are wont to do). Many times I just enjoy hearing what other people have to say. You really can learn a lot about individuals that way. And sometimes I think I see things that other people don’t.

    I think it’s great that you want to take time to listen and think about what you want to say. It comes naturally for introverts like me. Good luck!

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  2. Oh, this is ME! (ouch) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Just for kicks, the other day I took one of those on-line “personality tests”: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp

    And I was pretty skeptical, but after answering yes or no to some 70 questions, they told me I was INTJ, and I read the description of it, and it was pretty dead-on. Anyway, that was pretty cool.

    And here I am saying the first thing that comes to my mind, when I should probably be just sitting in quiet contemplation about what you’ve said, silently nodding and agreeing and telling myself I need to be more quiet… all the while, I’m typing away. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I don’t want to be that person either. But I am that person all to often. My husband is the quiet one you describe. People do ask for his opinion – and blow me off. While being careful about our speech and being God directed about holding our tongues is very important we must also remember that God made us who we are. He gave us the personality he wanted us to have because he sees value in it. Value for others – His kingdom, and value for us – our being who we were created to be. So me trying to squish myself into the box of my quite husband is not what he really wants. I think He wants my tongue to have reins, which means control not silence. And here is the kicker for me – he wants to hold the reins.

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  4. Proverbs 17:28

    Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
    and discerning if he holds his tongue.

    I just read this this morning – on the couch, with cartoons on and 3 kids buzzing around me, because I was determined to get my nose in the Word even if it was not an optimal environment!

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