When I started this blog, I imagined myself putting put two or three posts a week on various ministry and discipleship related questions. However, like so many of you, my soul has been weighed down by the events of 2020. There is so much happening culturally and politically, that I feel both overwhelmed and burdened. I am overwhelmed by the sheer amount of craziness that needs addressed, but I feel burdened to address it nonetheless.
However, so far I feel I have bit my tongue. Trust me, if you knew all the stuff that goes through my head that I do not say, write, post, or tweet, you would be amazed. I struggle with when to speak and when to be silent. Which hills should I charge, and which should be left alone. I also struggle with the why behind my struggle. Is my silence born out of wisdom or out of fear?
Why stay silent?
Believe it or not, there are some very good reasons for keeping quiet and not adding our voices to the cacophony around us.
- It’s the wrong issue. I wrote a previous article about choosing the right hills to die on. Frankly, there are some battles that are distractions from what matters most. In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul writes, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In 2 Timothy 2:4, as he compares the calling of Timothy to that of a soldier, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” If I spend all my energy charging every hill and fighting every battle, will I have enough left for sharing the good news about King Jesus? Not only that, but will I have any credibility left?
- It’s the wrong format. We have known for years that email and social media are horrible vehicles for in-depth communication. Most issues cannot be boiled down to 140 characters. Yet, hop on Twitter or Facebook and you see people blasting away at each other. Any attempt at true dialogue tends to be drowned out by angry trolls.
- It’s the wrong person. Not every person is open to hearing different ideas. Some people are so set in their ways that conversation is pointless. Jesus instructed His disciples in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” This does not mean we do not love them. However, is it wise to spend energy banging our head against a brick wall?
- It’s the wrong motive. As much as I wish all my thoughts and reasons for doing things are as pure as newly fallen snow . . . they are not. Sometimes my desire to speak and to engage comes not from a place of love for others, but from a place of pride and arrogance. I do not want to offer correction as much as I want to prove my intellectual superiority. Maybe you do not suffer from this particular moral malady, but I do. Thus, I need to do a heart check before I start engaging someone whether in person or online.
There are many reasons for using discretion in our speech and writing. However, discretion does not mean taking a vow of eternal silence. There are times when we need to speak up and confront bad ideas, bad attitudes, and bad behavior. In those times, we cannot let fear be our motive for silence.
When you are called to speak up on the right issue with the right motive, trust that the Holy Spirit will give you the right words for the right impact.