A few weeks ago, I was asked an unusual question, “What expression or saying do you think you would be known for if you died?”
How about you? What is something you say often? Is there a mantra or thought that influences the way you live?
There is one piece of advice I often give leaders, which came to mind, “wisdom is not just what you say, it’s what you choose not to say.”
How many times have you just said the first thing which came into your mind or said something in response to a circumstance, only to later discover that you have the facts wrong? Perhaps there was a piece of information that after you had made further investigation, you might have discovered there was far more going on than you thought. Sometimes a situation or circumstance looks very similar to something we have experienced in the past so we assume that it’s the same, only to discover that it was a very different situation. This is particularly complicated when our emotions get involved. There is this pull to say how we feel.
Scripture has a lot to say about slowing down and resisting the impulse to assume we have something all figured out and speaking rashly.
Proverbs 13: 3
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.
Proverbs 15: 1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Ecclesiastes 7: 9
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.
Perhaps the best known is James 1: 19, which says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
God knows that we hurt ourselves and hurt others when we do not control what we say. By slowing down and listening we give ourselves the opportunity to see the other person before lashing out at them and we also protect ourselves from saying something that we may later regret.