Table of Contents
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!Psalm 141:3 ESV
Speaking Your Thoughts
When is the last time you put serious thought into what you were about to say? How often do you think before you speak? My mother used to say, “You can say anything to anyone, as long as you know how to say it.” I’m not sure I wholeheartedly agree with that. But, when we think about how we are going to use our words, we take the first step in speaking with intention. That’s a step in the right direction!
Isn’t the point of conversation communication? Yet we all suffer the effects of our miscommunications. Several years ago, I took a week-long seminar to learn how to improve my communication skills. Like most participants, I thought I was going to learn how to better communicate (speak). Imagine how surprised I was to learn the focus of the seminar was not on speaking at all.
The focus was on listening!
I not only graduated from that seminar; I went on to teach that communication program. And now, even years later, there are times I wonder if I’ve what forgot learned.
God knows we all have trouble managing our words. Even when we understand that our words have consequences, there are times when we just don’t think about what drips from our lips.
So much happens when we are in conversation with others. We are anticipating what the other person is about to say. We are waiting for them to finish their thoughts so we can have ‘our turn’. Sometimes, I just get excited about a topic or an idea and the words flow through the gate of my lips before I realize they have escaped.
God intended for us to communicate and build relationships. But often hearts can be better bonded with actions, rather than words. As Christians aren’t we called to temper our words, our actions, and really, every aspect of our lives? Through temperance we gain tolerance – within ourselves and from others.
James tells us that our tongues can praise God and then turn to be used to condemn our brothers and sisters. How can this be?
Can we Think and Speak?
Can you put yourself to the test to speak with intention? Not yours – God’s. Think back to a conversation you recently had with someone. What did they want you to know? Did you acknowledge you got their message loud and clear? What did you want them to understand? Did they get what you were trying to say? How did you leave each other? Was everyone uplifted, or was there some strife in parting?
Reviewing what we say to others and how we listen, helps us to become aware of how we speak and where our attention is when we are in conversation. For example, I can be terrible at interrupting, it’s got worse lately. I don’t interrupt with the intention of being rude or discounting my fellow converser. I often interrupt if I am afraid I’ll forget a thought I believe needs to be shared.
What to do?
I must turn to God for guidance, and then close my mouth. I pray He will keep watch over the gate of my lips. Great! I’ve just become more aware of the problem. We can’t solve problems if we don’t know they exist. Now, I’m ready to try to converse with intention.
Think Before You Speak
To be the best conversationalist I can be, I must become an accomplished listener. Listening is more powerful than speaking.
Conversations with intention look like this:
- I listen to what is being said.
- I wait for the person to stop speaking.
- I might need to ask the speaker a question to better understand what they have said to me.
- I get clarification, then I may hold up my hand for a moment while I formulate a response.
- These steps help me to respond (and present ideas) with intention and clarity. Then, we repeat the process.
“Nobody cares what you know until they know you care.”Teddy Roosevelt
God’s communicators (you and I) are asked to bring people to Christ, to help them understand they are loved and show them they belong here, with us, as believers.
We each could spend hours, even days or weeks, telling people how much God loves them. And, while I’m not discouraging you from spreading the Word, I am suggesting that you spread God’s words by using your words as a last resort. Try acting upon your faith. I’m going to try to remember every talker needs a listener. After all, every human just wants to be listened to, understood, and belong.
Set Guard Over Your Mouth
The more we live in the Word, the better we understand that it’s not about us. Jesus came with a message. Just think of the ways He got his message across! He acted. He listened. He always spoke with intention.
Jesus chose his words carefully and considered to whom he was speaking. His words (and tone) were very different with Pilot and the Sadducees, than with Peter and his Disciples. If we become aware of our words, pray to execute God’s intentions in our actions, review our ‘conversational performances’ and follow Jesus’ example, we are on our way to becoming caring conversationalists. We are practicing thinking before we speak.
Through self-examination and action, we show God we are willing to have Him watch over the door of our lips. When our lips close, it becomes easier to open our arms and our hearts to those who need refuge.
Lord, it is my intention to think before I speak. I pray You will work with me to help me temper my thoughts, words and actions so that I can represent you where I am needed. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and redeemer. Amen
James 3:9 (NIV)
Psalm 141:3 (NIV)
Psalm 19:14 (ESV)