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Talk: Less Is More

Talk is cheap, until you talk to an attorney or a counselor. We are surrounded by worthless words online and in real life. We have a huge surplus of empty words but are hungry for meaningful, valuable words! As Christ followers we are called to be people that speak life-giving words. Sunday we talked about how we can have something worth saying and it starts with simply thinking before we talk.

Here are the four questions I shared that can help us move towards being people of valuable speech. Before you say anything ask yourself these four questions...

  1. Is it the right time? What you have to say might be true, right, and helpful, but it might just not be at the right time! Not every moment is created equal. If you’re going to have a good conversation, one that is meaningful, and builds someone up it needs to be at the right time. For instance, if Jenny wants to have a serious talk with me she knows to not have it when I’m laying down in bed for the night. I fall asleep fast and if I have to think too much when I’m tired - I’m grumpy. Likewise, I don’t wake Jenny up early to talk about something. I wait until she’s up, had a cup of coffee, and is fully awake. We both have learned to wait for the right time to talk. 
  2. Is it the right reason? If you’re about to talk with someone about something difficult it’s important you ask, “Who am I doing this for?” This isn’t to say that you never say something for yourself, you can and you should. Just don’t disguise what you need to say as what they need to hear. Problems often come when we keep something inside too long and it erupts when it comes out of us. When we blow up that’s for us, we want to finally get it out. Instead, we need to have these talks before when it’s helpful for them. Don't wait until you lose control to speak to someone!
  3. Is it the right way? Asking the previous question helps us to answer this question. Know what you want to accomplish in a conversation. You might hope that the outcome of a conversation with your child is that they’ll make a different choice in a date. You realize you shouldn't just command, “You can’t see them and that’s final!” As you thought it through you realized you want them to see where you’re coming from and agree with you. So, instead of commanding you ask, “Have you thought this through? I’m a little concerned about…” We have to stop and think about what we want our conversations to accomplish before we launch into them! How do you know if it’s the right way? Put yourself in their shoes and ask, “How would I hear this?” 
  4. Is it honest? If you remember back to the glory days of American Idol you had Simon Cowell & Paula Abdul. Simon was notoriously harsh and critical while Paula was constantly encouraging people. In an interview he was asked how he felt about being the mean one. He responded by saying something like, “Paula is the mean one. She tells people who can’t sing that they can and they waste years of their lives pursuing a dream they can’t possibly achieve.” We need to be truthful, not just polite. 

Ask these four questions about everything you say! Yes, it means you will speak less and you will take more time in responding. The law of supply and demand teaches that when supply is low, value goes up. Perhaps if we shortened our supply of words we would find that what we speak is valued more.

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If you liked the video we showed Sunday you can view it here: