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Slow to Speak

Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 
But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.  Mark 14:61

I sat in that meeting surrounded by men.  I was the only woman on the coaching staff and that alone put me at a disadvantage.  But I never have had an issue with being “the only one.”  I frequently have found myself in the position of being the youngest, the woman, the questioning, the sober, the only one to say “no.”  So that evening was no exception.  What was uncomfortable was the man in front of the room threatening me.  He also threatened to have the softball program thrown out of the community center if I remained a coach.  

Something inside my head told me to do something I rarely do – keep silent.  I typically will speak up and defend myself but it was almost as though tape were placed over my mouth.  Partially out of a sense of shock and fear that this man might physically attack me and partially because of that voice I remained quiet as he ranted and raved.

When the ranter was out of steam, the president of the league stood up and with his large physical presence made it clear the man was done and needed to leave.  A vote was taken and I stayed part of the coaching staff.  When the meeting came to an end I was shocked again when the other men, many who had rarely given me the time of day, approached me and congratulated me on standing strong and being so “tough.”  As I walked to my car that night my legs turned to jelly and I collapsed in my car in tears.  The ranter’s words were painful but the words of congratulations also overwhelmed me.  I had finally done something they could all respect.  And it was all because I listened to that small voice to keep quiet.

Even though I experienced success that evening with my silence it can drive me bonkers reading how Jesus took the abuse from the Pharisees.  Of course, unlike Him, I couldn’t rain hellfire down on my accuser and work a miracle.  But Jesus knew exactly when to speak and when to stay silent.

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry... James 1:19

And that’s my topic this week on being resolute in Christ – when to act or speak and when to rest or be silent.  Because frequently doing the exact opposite of what the world expects is exactly what we need to do to serve God righteously.

But how do we know?  It can be difficult to discern between our wants, needs and fears and the Word of God. I have found over the last few years, however, that God does make things clear when it is important.  Plus, knowing the character of God and Jesus and what is expected of us is tantamount in making good decisions.  God never speaks to our fleshly desires, encouraging us to indulge.  He is prudent, loving, kind, careful with resources, seeks justice and forgiveness, and above all He is holy.

Study the three main traits of Christ (justice, goodness, holiness) for thirty days, begin to practice them in your daily life, and see what God does…you won’t be disappointed.

Joyce Meyer, God’s Character

I’ve found it fascinating that people who want clear answers from God aren’t willing to actually know the character of the “person” from whom they are seeking answers.  Yet, I won’t go to a friend who clearly has difficulty with their finances and ask them for financial advice!  And I won’t seek fashion advice from someone that looks like they’ve just rolled out of bed every day.  

So much of obeying God’s and His Holy Spirit nudgings must start with knowing the road signs to even look for.  And then when we have accomplished that we must start paying attention and actually acting on those directives.

I love reading Sparkling Gems from the Greek each morning.  It’s a yearly devotional that takes scripture and studies it in the original Greek meaning.  Recently, the author wrote of how he was to attend a gathering of fellow pastors whom he hadn’t seen in awhile. He and his wife travelled to the city where the event was to take place.  As they were about to the leave the hotel a clear word came to him to not attend.  He first told his wife he felt the need to stay in the hotel.  But he went anyways not wanting to miss out on the fun.  Each step along the way he was told over and over to not go.  While at the event the message became almost overwhelming.  He left his wife to keep visiting and he returned to his hotel.  Upon entering his room, he realized they had been burgled.  All their passports, computers, important papers, jewelry and more were gone.  And he realized his fleshly desires overtook that warning voice.

How often have we stood in the midst of a situation that calls us to be an outsider, a dissenter, the weird one, the one to step out of line and answer the call of His voice?   And how often have we brushed it aside thinking we know better?  When we don’t know the character of God that will happen frequently.  But when we do know the character of God there’s no excuse.  We repent and tell God to give us another chance to serve Him rightly.

God will frequently call us in our everyday lives to do something that may help us or help others.  That cashier you want to be rude to because she is talking to another co-worker about her personal life? Ya, God might be telling you to say something incredibly kind to her or just keep silent.  That neighbor who yells at you because he doesn’t like where you put your trashcan?  God might be telling you to keep your mouth shut.  That trip you are about to take? He may be saying, “cancel it.” You won’t know if it’s your own worries or desires unless you know Him and His ways.

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.
“‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.  Zachariah 7: 11-13

God calls us to action and He calls us to inaction.  He calls us to speak and calls us to stay silent.  But if we worry too much about the world and what they will think if we obey those words, then we are sure to be judged.  We must stand resolutely when we hear that voice and through knowing His mind we will be assured He has our backs.

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The Quiet Captain

My dear brothers and sisters, 
take note of this: Everyone 
should be quick to listen, 
slow to speak and slow to 
become angry. 
James 1:19 

A prayer to speak only when needed

LORD, I would like to make this brief but I seem to have an issue with words.  They flow freely from my mouth without filters.  At times I gasp at myself for the words that exit me.  James is so right when he shows me that my mouth is like the rudder for my ship.  And I want to be on the right course with you, God.  Sometimes I need the entire trinity to help me grab hold of my rudder.  But I know with practice, your grace and the urging of the Holy Spirit I can and will be the quiet captain of my ship.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


At my first professional job after graduating from college, I found myself in a new position in which the company heads wanted me to help get the entire company on a new course.  I was only 23 years old and immature in many ways.  The job entailed me meeting with the directors of each division of the company and educating them and guiding them through this new direction.  One particular gentleman was one of those types that doesn’t say much in meetings.  He needed to ruminate a while – go take a walk and a “secret” smoke – and then give his input.  He made me very uncomfortable.

After I would bring up a topic and give my input we would sit in silence.  That is, until I couldn’t bear it anymore and then I would start babbling.  And the more I babbled the deeper, as they say, into the weeds I would get.

Avoid godless chatter, because 
those who indulge in it will 
become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:16

When we feel the need to fill empty spaces with words we can find ourselves making promises we can’t meet, contradicting ourselves, confusing the issue, giving bad advice, or revealing more than we should.  I found myself doing all of these things in those meetings until one day a friend gave me the good advice to stop talking and let the man catch up.

You would think that lesson alone would’ve trained me in the art of being ok with silence but it hasn’t.  Just the other day I had to apologize to someone for interrupting her while she was sharing a difficult issue.  One of my walking buddies, with whom I have a very trusting relationship, has taken to saying, “That isn’t helpful for me right now,” when I am talking at her too much.

The root of this babbling seems to stem from a need to make sure people know my opinion.  So many of us want to make sure we are “heard.”  When in actuality God places more importance on the kindness of listening. 

I am getting better at this thing called silence.  My prayer life now includes the request of God to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and speak only when I need to.  I have a feeling I’ll have that as part of my prayers for a long time.  Until I get it right, my ship will tack back and forth a bit until I can get it to smooth sailing.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!