Two admirable people
Speaking softly is foreign to me. I didn’t even recognize it when I saw it. But I saw it in my first year of Bible College in two (very different) persons. And it changed me for the better.
I had a wise professor in college. Everyone seemed to really enjoy his teaching, but whenever you asked him a question, he would pause for a noticeable amount of time before answering. Honestly? It kind of got on my nerves. On one occasion, I remember thinking “we’re paying for these classes right? Why are you acting like you don’t know the answer?!”
Second person: I live in Kansas and there are lots of people who have Mennonite backgrounds, either in their current or past generations. I don’t have Mennonite in my background, but…you know how you are often attracted to your opposite? (true in both friends and romance!) One of my best friends in college grew up in a Mennonite church in central Kansas and I have always thought of her as soft-spoken. And always admired it. I think it’s partially because she grew up alongside people who spoke softly and it naturally rubbed off on her. Check out this amazing blog post I read about gelassenheit, the Plain People principle of having a peaceful soul that results in gentle speech and behavior.
I was kind of sarcastic in college. I’d like to think I was witty. There were points in my college choir class that I had everyone in the choral risers belly-laughing. I still have these qualities and comments within me… but… unfortunately, my brain can’t produce wit without also creating a negative attitude riddled with sass.
A few damaged relationships later and I can see that wit is valuable (and fun!) but God wants us to point to HIM with our words and actions!
And I don’t think sass is ever commended in the Bible. Ha!
used to be is really a sacrifice to me, but as I get a little older and have a child, I actually feel more comfortable with less access to the limelight. (Both literally on stage and figuratively in everyday conversations.)
I’m attempting through the Holy Spirit to speak:
- LESS OFTEN (if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all! right?)
- AFTER A PAUSE (so I can truly listen to listen, not listen to wait to talk!)
- IN A SOFTER TONE (in humility, not pride)
- POINTING TO CHRIST
So here’s some tips that I have picked up along the way that encourage me in my journey in edifying speech.
Practical reasons to be soft-spoken
- Soft-spoken, gracious people are more enjoyable company.
- Temper tantrums are not acceptable behavior, for children or for adults. Which brings me to my next point:
- The way you speak is the way your children will speak. Don’t you want your children to be the kind of Christians who speak with an attitude that makes people say: is that what Christians do?
- Anger begets anger. You will find more anger in your life when you are angry. You will find more grace when you speak with grace.
- Raising your voice to others demeans them as a person and that is never a Christian thing or even decent thing to do.
- Yelling is also NOT going to get you what you want in the long-term. You may get what you want right here and now, but you know that it hurts relationships (for the reasons above) and maybe more importantly:
7. When you start yelling, it inadvertently trains the people in your life to wait to listen for more yelling. (Yes, including your children! and husband!)
8. Yelling at others hurts relationships. More frustration and barriers, less real communication.
Whew. Are you still with me?
I still don’t feel that I’m fully qualified to speak on speaking with tenderness… but there are lots of passages in the Bible that speak of being gracious in your speech, so I feel that’s a good authority.
Here’s some of them.
Scriptural reasons to speak softly and tenderly
- Gentle, soft words make you a peacemaker; helps end disputes.
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
- People respect the Gospel more when it is presented with gentleness and respect.
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
- Gentleness is one of the marks that someone is asking from wisdom from Heaven.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17
The longer you are a Christian, the more mature you will be, the more you will look like Christ. Christ spoke with grace and humility.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22
Isn’t that so like God? To put people in your life who change you? To smooth out your rough spots through relationships? I think that’s why God put my Mennonite friend in my life… so that I could see another way to speak. Speaking softly whenever possible.
True in both friendships and marriage.
So whenever it is possible, don’t yell at other
s regarding personality differences.
Use those personality differences to be the shaping and molding tools that God intended them for. Allow those conflicts to change you for the better through the Holy Spirit.
What about you?
Do you have any opposites attract relationships in your life? Are you allowing them to shape you or are you angry about the changes? Do you feel equipped on how to change? Would you be interested in a “how” side of speaking softly?