Posts Tagged ‘speaking’

What You Say Reveals Your Heart

October 31, 2016

Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. James

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Jesus

A theme underlying the popularity of one of our candidates for President seems to be recovering the ability to say whatever you think. No filter between emotions and mouth. No more watching what you say for fear of offending someone (political correctness).

There is a segment of society–mostly men from what little I can gather–that feel bridled. They can’t tell racist jokes. They can’t call women fat. They can’t call groups of people by slur words.

Interesting that James some 2,100 years ago identified that same problem. But he didn’t sympathize. He identified the unbridled tongue as a wild fire.

Saying whatever comes to mind from whatever source leads to many things, and none of them good. James observes based on a long tradition in Jewish thought (and most likely from other sources as well) that the tongue guides the body. An unbridled tongue has the same effect on our bodies as the actions of a horse without a bridle.

The unbridled tongue has started riots, caused people to be killed, injured family members causing disruption of relationships.

Jesus takes it a step further.

What you say is a reflection of what is in our hearts.

When we think it is our right to speak whatever we want, that could be true. But is it wise?

As we learn to set our hearts on the better things, we will find ourselves less and less apologizing for speaking unwisely.

Can we say along with a keynote speaker I heard last week, “You could mic me on a five day fishing trip to Montana with my buddies. When you play back the recording, it would not make my daughter blush.”

Speaking Your Mind-Is It The Wise Thing

July 18, 2016

Young people speaking their minds. Meeting so much resistance… – Buffalo Springfield

There was a news item about which types of people were likely voters for Donald Trump for President. The report pointed to college students who “wanted to be able to say whatever they felt like saying.”

This sounds pretty adolescent. But we’d expect that from an age group trying at the same time to grow up and to remain a kid. We’ve all been there (I remember with chagrin). I’m sure it’s a reaction to “political correctness” where we try not to use words that denigrate groups of people. I keep writing about that use of language.

But cleaning up language is a great way to clean up thinking as well as actions.

We learned a long time ago as soccer referees that if we dealt with the use of certain language by players–especially at the adult and college-age level–the game would go much better.

How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body. — James

Yes, we can say anything we want. Perhaps the college kids referenced in the article (who may not even exist except in the mind of the reporter) really wish for the ability to “speak their minds” without repercussion. Oops. That isn’t going to happen. James pointed it out 2,000 years ago. Solomon, in the Proverbs, pointed it out 500 years before that.

Is it the wise thing to do?–Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley has been speaking on “Is it the wise thing to do?” Some things sound so good until we weigh it against our present and our future. It may not look so good. We may get some sort of personal emotional release, but at what expense?

Like Peter Pan, many people–even in their 30s and 40s these days–just don’t want to grow up. But growing up is the way of nature. We all do it–or suffer then inevitable consequences.

Leaders Are Communicators

October 9, 2015

Reflecting on Paul, perhaps the greatest leader (outside of Jesus) in the early church. He came out of nowhere. He was not part of the inner circle. Heck, he wasn’t in any circles when Jesus was alive. We don’t hear about him until after the resurrection and the formation of the early church. And then he was an instigator.

Then, he was converted. He was taught. He was commissioned.

He visited little groups of followers and taught and preached. He encouraged them to grow in numbers and in strength of spirit.

He also wrote. That’s how we know about him today. We all study what he wrote way back then in letters that he could only hope would make it to their destinations, let alone make it into books that we read today.

He had a vision. He had passion. But he exploited that through his use of the written and spoken word.

Much as  I never much cared for Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, he did teach me one thing from his books–the importance of crafting your message as a leader and then speaking and writing that message at every opportunity. As a leader, you have to get your message out.

I have interviewed the senior leadership of a $7 billion automation company many times. I’ll interview the CEO, and he’ll give me the message. Then I’ll interview three or four senior vice presidents. They’ll all give me that message as it relates to their areas. Then I’ll talk to director level people. Same thing. The message gets through.

How about your organization? Does it have a message? Is it clearly articulated such that just about everyone can understand it? If I interviewed all the people in your organization, would they be able to tell me what the message is and be able to relate it to their role?

In some of the organizations where I am in a leadership role, I find myself communicating all the time. Emails, notes, brochures, phone calls, text messages, Facebook or Website. You’ve got to use every means available.

If you are working quietly away from people, you’re probably not leading.

Don’t Let Words Get In The Way of Communicating

September 3, 2015

The tone of my last post about the guy who put forward and argument based on a shallow interpretation of Scripture was pretty sharp. I tried to separate out my dislike of the interpretation from any possible personal dislike. I don’t know that I succeeded. Perhaps I was snarky in a couple of comments.

Sometimes we just come out and call things by names that were poorly chosen.

Christians sometimes have a way of moving a conversation to the personal perhaps a little too quickly. Maybe making a judgement about saved or not saved based on superficial information. Or even no information.

Sometimes in analyzing we place a label on people that we shouldn’t. It could be wrong. It could be right. But it changes the entire discourse usually away from the direction we wished we were going.

How about when we name something and people get an entirely different interpretation of our event or program than what we meant. Now, we cannot recover or recover only with great difficulty.

Ad hominem attacks, such as we often see in politics, never move a discussion forward. Attacking a person instead of discussing her ideas and trying to understand and empathize is just the easy way out. And it will never lead to reconciliation and relationship.

Those of us who¬† use words must especially be careful. Paul says those who teach are especially at risk if we don’t teach correctly. Let us strive to use words correctly and intelligently.

The Art of Leadership Requires The Art of Communication

May 15, 2015

He just sort of went his own way. Left the others behind and bewildered. Instructions were muddled. Text messages with u and 4 and ty rather than spelled out, complete sentence communiques.

She could talk and talk; and then when you walked away you wondered, “Just what did she say?”

Worse still is the leader who just doesn’t talk, or text, or send emails.

A friend of mine used to say, “Just pick up the phone and call.”

The leadership lesson I’m contemplating today is when a leader does not communicate–either clearly or at all.

We all know them. We’ve worked for them. Maybe when we look in the mirror we see one.

In the Bible I can think of Joseph who clearly communicated–first to the king and then to the people and saved them from starvation. Daniel who spoke clearly to a number of kings and the people who served him.King David, who was able to give clear and explicit orders–even when they were wrong. Nehamiah. Oh, yes, Nehemiah. He spoke clearly to his leader to get permission to travel to Jerusalem. Then he spoke clearly to the leaders of the Jews when he arrived. And he did a great work.

Are you aware of your weakness in communication? I know that I’m a better writer than one-on-one communicator. I hate “just picking up the phone” even when I should.

Recently I know of a situation that I’m trying to rectify where there was almost a total breakdown of communications that almost wrecked a project. One person didn’t speak up. Another didn’t assure that he was undersood when he talked. Worse, most was done by brief email exchanges.

I consulted with an executive director of an agency once where I was trying to get him to see how to communicate with his board. It started from within, that he felt like an equal. That his opinion and vision mattered. And then he needed to take his vision to the board collectively and individually.

What I have learned through bitter experience–a leader must be a great communicator. There is no one correct style of communication. But she’d better have a good one and be good at it.

The Tongue Can Cause Great Hurt

March 30, 2015

No one can tame the tongue, full of restless evil and deadly poison. James

She heard that a certain group of people were plotting against a leader. She felt the greatest sympathy for the leader. Surely the source was correct. All the insinuations fit precisely within her already formed prejudices.

It became so easy to just begin telling people about the great injustice. Tell people about those evil people.

And there was more than one she.

And he heard something about another person. And then he saw something suspicious. Not sure what it was, but in his mind it became something else. Bigger. Worse. He just had to tell colleagues. It’s only natural.

Yet another person figured out within the mind what motivated another person. The analysis slipped out in conversation one day.

In every case and more, the word never stops with the friend you just happened to speak with. It spreads. Eventually to the target of the talk.

It may not have even felt like gossip. It felt righteous. A feeling of relief swetpt over the mind and body with the unburdening of the information.


Except, it was all wrong. There was no basis in fact. There was no attempt at finding facts. And once spoken, the words become beliefs.

Some people make this stuff up in order to gain some sort of advantage or to gain some sort of emotional release. Most of us? Well, most of us just talk without thinking.

And it hurts. The target will hurt deeply.

I’ve witnessed so much of this in my life. Many times just within the past 12-18 months. 

It scares me. I wonder about every off-hand remark I might have made. Every wrong analysis.

James was so right about the tongue. And it is so hard to control.

I also found Psalm 15 and Micah 6:8 to further convict me.

The Renovare Life With God Bible in the commentary on James tells us that we must learn to discipline our wrong emotions and bring them under God’s  control. 

I hurt for those who have been wrongly hurt by an unthinking tongue. Just hoping I’m more of a calm and peace-seeking influence than a fire-starter.

As You Speak, So Is Your Heart

January 10, 2014

For some time in my youth, I could go entire days without speaking. I know, people who know me now would not believe that. It’s true.

James (from the book bearing his name) discusses the tongue as the revealer of the condition of one’s heart. I wonder what it means to speak seldom, if at all. People do think you’re smart. I know that.

I heard a man talk of a dinner when he and his wife had invited another couple that they didn’t know well. Both the man and his wife were tired after a strenuous week, so they didn’t talk much during the dinner. That meant that they listened much. Eager to know what the couple thought about them, they rushed to a window when the couple left and heard them say, “What an entertaining couple.”

James teaches that we can get into great trouble with our tongues. I wonder if he was just passing along Wisdom teaching, or if he knew from personal experience. He grew up with Jesus. Ever wonder if he said things during adolescence that he later regretted?

Since I am introverted by nature, I can sit here (doing it now) and remember the many times I said stupid or hurtful things. I remember with a pang of guilt. Surely in those moments, my heart was not living in the Spirit. It was rather captured by some feelings that needed to be dealt with–anger, frustration, insecurity, envy.

I used to put a little reminder in my planner to talk less and listen more. Ask more questions. Reduce my answers. That is a worthy goal for the year.