“Did I seriously just say that?”
For real, y’all, there’s got to be an informercial somewhere that offers a mouth zipper for 3 easy installments of $19.99. I need one of those.
Because all too often, I let my mouth go without checking with my sanity first. And I kid you not, if I ever do slow the roll on my words, it’s not my doing at all. It’s what you call divine intervention.
My natural tendency is to use my mouth like a whip, or a grenade, or in the least, like a well-shaken can of Diet Coke that spills out the unfiltered thoughts in my head.
- Those times I tear someone down with passive-aggressive words which could be interpreted one way or another.
- Those times I ditch the passive method and go straight out ugly to their face.
- Those times I have a handful of envy, so I cut them down to make myself feel better…
- Those times I lose my grip with a certain 10 year old, and speak at a volume often considered as yelling.
Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, or cut them out. -Colossians 4:6 MSG
(This verse doesn’t specifically address anger, per se, but we can all assume that when my voice reaches a certain notch on the sound chart, I’m probably not saying words that are considered a *gift* to the receiver.)
Also, it’s the *bring-out-the-best-in-others-in-conversation* part that gets me. Those words sting…mainly because of those times my comments aren’t meant to offer compliments.
My husband can confirm that my words can rip at the seams rather than build up someone’s confidence. I may or may not have done that this weekend. (It might have been during the middle of an intense inning in a baseball tournament.) (Little League Parent Stress is so immature.) (But so real, friends.)
And it’s those candid moments that won’t show up on any highlight reel of kindness.
“The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.” -Proverbs 15:28 NLT
Solomon probably would have included *think carefully before posting your status, writing that email, or sending that text* if he were alive in the smartphone era.
You may be one of those people who always thinks before they speak. I’m usually not.
I should probably work on that, since my words hold the power to bring life or death to the hearer (see Proverbs 18:21). Which, incidentally, would include those times we talk to ourselves.
When we slow down to think about what we’re saying, we can choose whether to aim our words like daggers intended to gut the soul of the hearer. OR we can choose to intentionally speak words that are meant to build up, bring out the best in, and encourage the one who receives them.
I mean seriously, how often do we go into conversation with our eye on the goal of bringing out the best in the other person? If we are focused on how we can encourage someone, you can bet we’re less likely to *one up* them, or drop a line that could make them feel *less than*.
Many times our words cut through someone unintentionally simply because we didn’t think about the result before they rolled out of our mouth. (Or maybe it’s not so much that they were unintentional, but if we would have considered them through the lens of grace, we may have chosen not to say them at all.)
Our lives would be radically changed if we measured our words with more caution, and decided to use them to bring out the best in those on the receiving end.
Every single relationship in our lives would improve if we deliberately used our words to cheer, motivate, inspire, strengthen, and refresh others. (Note: I didn’t say they would change…but our perspective and approach absolutely would.)
I’m not delusional; no one who hits a perfect mark on loving speech 100% of the time. And we can give our best effort, but if the Holy Spirit isn’t the governing source, then we’ll fail more often than we succeed.
I challenge you this week to notice what you’re saying…and consider how your relationships and life’s situations could be dramatically different if you spoke life-giving words into them, instead of deadly arrows.
Here’s 3 Conversation Game-Changers to carry around in your mental notebook:
- Think before you speak: What is my motive? Do my words offer kindness or do they cut down?
- Look for the good in others, instead of being so focused on what they need to fix.
- Decide to bring out the best of others in conversation. (Despite what you feel like saying.)
I’d love to hear how this works for you. In the meantime, you can bet I’ll have ample opportunity to practice what I preach here.
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