Yesterday was too time-compressed to post on my Lent devotion, so today you get a two-fer.
We are dealing first with the Know-it-all Tongue. Boy, does this one really convict me. I've always been a pretty good harvester of near-useless data, so when I think I know something, even a little bit, about a subject under discussion, my history has been to chime in with what I know. In a group when someone was relating a story about something that happened, I often felt I needed to 'add to' their story.
In Community Bible Study, I have learned a LOT about this through leadership. In our Tuesday meetings we go over the questions from our lesson together in a group. This is where I am the 'member' and the teaching director is the group leader. My tendency is to fill in the silence with an answer to get the ball rolling. I have to re-visit self control EVERY week on this issue. Sadly, I often fail. But, with the grace of God, instead of 10 out of 10 times jumping in to tell people what I know, I've cut back to about 6 out of 10 times. Moreover, I am increasingly aware of my tendency to do this, and am starting to exercise self-control and self-restraint.
God is funny though -- on Wednesday with our entire class, we break into our small groups. In these, the leader (me) asks the questions from our week's lesson, and waits for the ladies to chime in with an answer. All have had the same amount of time to prepare. Some hesitate because they're not sure they got the right answer. Some hesitate because they're giving others a chance. And some don't hesitate at all. In every group I lead there's always one person just like me who wants to jump in with the answer. God's great sense of humor is at play here. He shows me how annoying it is to the leader when one person dominates the discussion. Each year I have to ask Him to show me ways to deal with it. Sometimes I just have to call that person and ask them to give others a chance to answer.
Some of those really quiet women, when they do share an answer, have such a GEM of wisdom in it, that everyone just drinks the blessing in. That doesn't happen if the opening doesn't occur.
Learning to appreciate the silences and wait for the Holy Spirit is a HUGE undertaking for me. So I am so thankful that God called me into leadership. Sometimes, on the top of each page of my lesson for Tuesday class I write "S.U." That's a note for me to shut up and let someone else talk.
One paragraph in this reading really struck me. It says, "even if you are brilliant but humble, your mere presence may cause those with low self-esteem to feel inferior. Certainly then, displaying intellectual superiority will alienate others." God shows his sense of humor to me with this too. Until I got married, I was the brilliant one. When my husband would say things like, "Well, of course you know that (insert Greek philosopher) said, XXXX." No, I didn't know that and I felt STUPID because of the way he conveyed that information. He and I both still struggle with coming across as arrogant, but nowadays when one of us is starting to believe our own press, God gives the other of us an opportunity to lovingly address it. And of course with teens in the home, who.know.everything., we get it right back in our faces. No hiding from genetics!
Day 16 is The Harsh Tongue. I think my tendency to do this is pretty limited to my family. Not that it's okay, but they are the ones who are most likely to get into this line of fire. I have had to apologize to each of my kids, both of them at one time, and my husband. There's no excuse for it, especially for a follower of Christ. Harsh words can impact a person for a lifetime, ruin a marriage, estrange families, and lead to violence. No excuses.
Lord, help me to share only what you have directed me to share today. Help my every word be loving, kind, and suitable for building up, not tearing down.