Silent service is the difference between shutting up and speaking up

Perfect Storm Factor #1: I have a ton of ideas and opinions about nearly every subject.

I’m constantly thinking about things that I don’t understand–which is all the time because the world is a confusing place. I am constantly making mistakes and work to correct them. Some people call me quick witted–but I’m just sharing what I’ve already been thinking about. In school, some people are natural geniuses other people do a lot of homework. I’m in the second group. I’m not smart, I just think a lot.

This leads to deep convictions. I know I’m not always right, but I’m typically more confident than most that what I’m talking about is correct.

Sounds arrogant. I know. That’s not my heart. When I’m unsure of stuff, I try to give it an appropriate “I could be wrong…” but I don’t do a great job of this. #WorkingOnIt

Perfect Storm Factor #2: To make communication matters worse, I get real comfortable really quick. I somehow lost the basic human social skill that says, “take your time to get to know people.*”  No one has ever accused me of being a diplomat.

As an aside: I love diplomats. Some of my best friends are diplomats. I envy their patience and self-control and have learned to follow their example. (Although, based on this post, it may not sound like it! HA!!).

Perfect Storm Factor #3: The final factor of this relational conflict causing “perfect storm” is that I really like to be understood by others–especially people I respect. When I feel like I’m misunderstood, I typically (over?) confidently (over?) share. I never wonder why my closest friends get worn out sometimes.

Anyhow, I could have cut everything before this sentence and had a perfectly good teaching. Such is (my) life.

The discernment of when to speak and when to keep quiet is a difficult for just about everyone. From what I’ve observed**, most of us speak too much or too little. Thankfully, we have God’s Word to guide us:

Proverbs 26:4-5
“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”

For many years, I saw little practical wisdom in this scripture beyond, “Sometimes you need to speak up, sometimes you don’t.” I was fine with that, and it did little to slow down my speaking up.

Years later I discovered / received from God a*** clue for discernment: do not speak up when you will be like the fool, speak up when you can show the fool his (or her) foolishness.

Since then, I’ve been a lot more quiet. Many fools are confidently convinced of their own wisdom…and if I try to do anything about it, I’ll be a fool myself. In these situations, it’s my job to work harder to earn the right to be heard.

So here is my prayer:

Lord, Help me to correct every fool who will listen, to be a silent servant of those who won’t.

Lord, Help me not be wise in my own eyes so that I can hear the answers to my own foolishness.

 

*Originally, this line was, “work hard for people to like you” … but that sounds so dismissive/condescending of people whom I’d label diplomats.

**This is one of those phrases I use to try and soften the “strength” of my opinion / conviction…did it work? Did this footnote kill that?

***typically, I’d write “the clue” rather than “a clue” … because for me personally, it was a definitive clue.