Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thinking Before We Speak

Not long ago I went with a team from our church to work at an apartment complex downtown to assist people there who have very little and some of whom have extra special needs. During the past couple of years we have built some special friendships with these folks and enjoy our time with them every time we go.

On this particular visit I spent some time with a young blind man. He is very bright and most enjoyable to talk to about most anything. But at one point during the day he asked me to come up to his room and help him look for something that he'd been having trouble finding.

I said I would and began pushing him up to his room in his wheelchair. As the elevator door on his floor opened I noticed the incredible vista of our Austin downtown lake and its surroundings. So I immediately said, "Wow, you have a great view up here." All at once I realized that I had just told a blind man what an incredible "view" he had!

I felt like such an idiot and frankly I was at that moment. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humor and laughed with me when I realized my mistake.

However, that incident reminded me again that it is pretty important to think before we speak whether we're talking to our spouse, our kids or a friend. During a recent trip to Russia, my eleventh, I was constantly trying to think how to say things in Russian, my skills being pretty limited. But sometimes I wonder if I don't need to spend more time thinking every day about how to say things in English!

Am I speaking words that will build up this other person? Am I trying to enter their world in a meaningful way or am I just attempting to make myself look better?

Even when I need to say hard things, am I speaking words that will help the other person be stronger and better or am I just seeking my own satisfaction? Are my words demanding that others be more like me or do I express my perspective and opinion in a gracious, non-threatening way?

We will all have to evaluate our own habits and practices, but it will help if we all take regular inventory of our speech tendencies with others. In fact, ask someone else to give you some feedback and then listen to them. Chances are they see and hear things from you that you do not. Let them be a mirror for you.

I know that when I listen to the recordings of my teachings I often hear things that I actually said and yet didn't know those things came across the way they did.

Before you respond to your spouse's or child's action or perspective that you don't agree with, think about the best way to engage them. As the New Testament says, let your words be seasoned with salt. Salt is designed to preserve and to bring out the flavor in our food. Let your words do the same for others in your world.

Think before you speak today!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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