If there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I could improve on my communication skills. I don’t enjoy idle talk, which means I’m not a big fan of “girl parties.” I never talk on the phone unless it is for information purposes. I rarely answer all my emails, thus leading to a full email inbox. I don’t even listen to all my voice mails! Much to my family’s dismay.
All in all, I pretty much don’t feel the need to respond, which makes for a very poor communication plan in my life. But somehow I manage to lead a very fulfilled life. Some may think I’m out of touch, but somehow I manage to go from day to day basically a very happy person.
I can remember years ago when moving to our current church, one of my friends introduced me to a group and said, “All you really need to know is that Deb is a very private person.” I was a bit taken back from the comment since I had never thought of myself that way. Yet after mulling over my friend’s statement for more than 20 years now, I would say that “private” is a very true assessment of my personality.
Most of us communicate exactly as we wish. Whether we are outgoing or shy somewhat depends on our personality and events in our lives. To say I am private is reflective of my upbringing, my personality, and probably mostly because I am a pastor’s wife.
I learned very young that I lived in a fish bowl and that every word or deed was repeated in various forms. Once something was said or done, it was like a tidal wave that could never be called back. Sometimes it has brought destruction and other times it has proven good.
Years have taught me to bite my tongue, to overlook “well-meaning” conversations, and to sometimes speak out when others will not. Each situation brings a new challenge. It is an ever-present challenge to use my words wisely.
In Colossians 4:6, the Scripture tells us that we are to be aware of our speech. We are not to blurt out the first thing that comes into our head but we are “to season with salt.” Any cook knows that salt is the zest of life. But too much, and the palate can’t tolerate it. As women, we are guilty many times of letting our emotions and our egos become the barometers of our communications.
Colossians 4:6 goes on to tell us that we should be gracious. What a lost word for our generation! Most people couldn’t name a gracious person in their circle of friends. But if you are fortunate enough to have a spouse or close friend who portrays this quality, you have a rare gem.
Acquiring the skills presented in this Scripture is not easy. The very fact that we are told it should “always” be the case places most in a very difficult situation. To always be in control of my words means that I have to demonstrate a lot of self-restraint. No longer can I merely say what first comes to my mind. I have to edit every spoken word so that I could fulfill this instruction!
So we are back to the salt issue. Too much or too little is a recipe for disaster. Thus the last bit of instruction. There is a proper and right way to answer each person, and this is where the rubber meets the road. It means and includes all the following communications:
· The friend who criticizes you in front of others to make herself look better.
· The casual acquaintance who speaks negatively about your faith or church.
· The girlfriend who demeans her husband constantly.
· The conversation that turns to making light of moral or holy things or relationships.
· The sharing of personal things or practices in a relationship.
· The repeating of half-truths or innuendos that shed a dark light on another person or thing.
· The use of inappropriate words to make oneself appear worldly.
· And, of course, any reference to an irreverent thought or description of God.
The list could go on and on, but you know what I mean.
Life is a great teacher and hopefully we put to use what God instructs us in his Word and through our fellow believers. Learning to listen to what is behind what someone says is a maturing process. Learning to be gracious in our speech is the height of maturity. Learning to control “TMI” (too much information) is a beautiful thing!
So my prayer for you is that 2011 would be a “salty” year in your Christian life. Salty enough to make you more like our gracious Savior.Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6, ESV).