Thursday, February 25, 2010

Speaking Ill of the Accomplished

Day 9
The Slandering Tongue
Because I live in the Washington, D.C. area, and national politics are local politics, I get very tired of the constant stream of people denigrating one another's ideas, person and beliefs. So when I first read the title of this chapter I thought, "oh that's not one I do."

Then I read the rest of the chapter. Instead of focusing on "them" it encouraged me to focus on my sin in the area of slander. And oh so ouch.

Since I was a small child I have struggled with feeling inadequate, which produced jealousy of others' successes. If my mother complimented another person's child, I believed the subtext was, "you should be more like her." If my teacher held up someone else's paper, I thought to myself, "oh, that's not so great." If my brother excelled in something that I had struggled with, I attributed it to him receiving more love and attention from my parents.  And so on.  Unfortunately, this continued through school and into adulthood.

What is sad is that I have a very quick mind and regrettably, a quicker tongue. I have often been the opposite of James 1:19 (My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry)   I have been slow to listen (if at all) and quick to speak, usually in a way that tried to diminish that other person so that I made myself feel better. Even as I admonished my children to not speak ill of classmates, I found myself speaking ill of those classmates' parents.

It is only in the last few years, after painful and searching conversations with my spouse and God, that I have started to grow in this area. There are times that I almost physically feel God's hand over my mouth.

Last night I had a board meeting for a local group I'm involved with. One member of the group was very intent on projecting and revisiting his opinion. I found myself a couple of times trying to interject but he raised his voice and ran me over. He wasn't denigrating a particular person, but we were all very intent on defining the "enemy" -- in this case the county officials who are slashing the budget of the libraries to nothing. What he wanted to say needed to be said (although once would have been sufficient) and this morning as I reflect on it, I am so grateful. God showed me exactly what I do to others when I head out "full steam ahead" without regard to the contents of my speech. 

Search me Lord. Show me where the gift of a quick mind you gave me has been ill used and has brought you the opposite of glory. Forgive me for my hasty speech and thoughtless prattle. Help me today, one hour at a time, to say only positive, kind, and true things about other people, and only if they are words that you would have me speak. Amen.


quilly said...

Being quiet so someone can vent, and allowing abuse are very different things. There also comes a point when venting needs to stop and action needs to take place. When I am sitting in such circumstances I try to pray for God's wisdom, even so, it is often hard to tell where our own agenda stops and starts.

SouthLakesMom said...

True, and this book has me questioning my agenda a LOT! Thanks for the comment, Q!

Anonymous said...

As I have aged I have tried to listen more before speaking. I always tend to speak now and listen later. Bad habit but it's getting better :)

SouthLakesMom said...

Thom, I think most of us learn that the hard way! Good for you to recognize it and be aware of it - -and for it getting better. I'm sure that in your business the temptation to be quick with the tongue is sometimes overwhelming, but the last thing you need is a customer service complaint!

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is something I need to be reminded of every once in a while (and since God wasn't letting me sleep tonight, I think he might have led me here to be reminded yet again).