“keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Psalm 34:13
“My tongue will proclaim your righteousness, your praises all day long.” Psalm 35:28
There’s a series of questions that I’m trying to incorporate personally, and trying to teach my kiddos… It involves our speech.
When I was a child, I was taught to tell the truth. That’s it; that was the total barometer for what should be coming out of my mouth. Somehow, deep inside, I knew there had to be more.
I watched a relative of mine crush a spouse’s enthusiastic beginning artistic efforts with “truth”; I was at the receiving end of another relative’s cutting remarks when, as a teenager, I began to learn how to apply makeup. I even know adults today who think it’s totally OK to say anything…just ’cause it’s true!
The whole time I thought “There has to be more to this “truth” thing.”
Fast forward many years, and marriage and a few children later…
I was blessed to count as some of my friends some very wise women over the years. Without the benefit of nearby and wiser relatives, I sought these ladies out as my husband and I navigated the waters of young parenthood.
And it was from them that I learned…
There IS more than “just” telling the truth!
And I would encourage you to teach your children, and perhaps remember yourself, to ask these questions before engaging in conversation; most especially heated ones and/or those requiring delicacy of any type. Before we start to speak…we should THINK! Ask yourself “Is what I am about to say…
T – True?
OK, I’ll give you this one. Of course, as Christians, we’re taught and encouraged, even commanded, to speak the truth. This is the most basic lesson, but perhaps also the lowest bar. Is what I am about to say truthful?
H – Helpful?
Are you being overly critical? Or pointing out the obvious, just to show “you know” what’s going on or what the problem is? You know, people are often smarter than you give them credit for, and unless you are willing to offer a concrete suggestion or step in, roll up your sleeves, and suggest a practical solution…then you might want to just button it up, so to speak. Is what I am about to say sincerely helpful?
I – Inspiring?
Now I understand we can’t all wax eloquently or rally the troops to action with a lofty speech or whathaveyou… But people know when they’re being encouraged, even if we stumble over our own words. And sometimes the most inspiring thing we can say takes no words at all! We can speak volumes through a hug or a hand squeeze… Is what I’m communicating truly inspiring or, at the very least, encouraging?
N – Necessary?
This one may be a bit tricky, because even if it’s something we think someone needs to hear, now may not be the time. Or we may not be the ones who have earned the right to say it. Basically the benchmark for this question is: if the comment involves something the other person has no control over…it’s probably not necessary for me to say. Will my comment offer insight or an important piece of information to the other person?
K – Kind?
Almost everyone is fighting a battle of some sort. Most of the time, we might never be aware of what it is, nor should we. But the fact remains, people may not remember what you say or do, but they will remember kindness. So if you or I must speak, let it be to express something kind, something that will ease or possibly release a burden, something that will be a balm to a hurting soul. And yes, it’s that significant; that substantial Kindness leaves a lasting impression. Am I speaking kindly into someone’s life?
I realize asking these questions is asking alot!
I also realize that sometimes we don’t know what to say, and we’ll mess up on a few of them…
I further realize that when we ask ourselves these questions, we may end up saying a lot LESS! (Which may not be a bad thing…)
But the point is to think first, to engage our brains and our hearts before we let our tongues loose.
Giving this kind of thought to our words will revolutionize our homes and families, our schools, our churches, and our work places.
It’s easy to learn, and I promise you it will become easier with practice: THINK before you speak.
If you’d like a handy dandy reminder, feel free to print out and frame this cute graphic, below!
Original photo by: photostock/www.freedigitalphotos.net
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