Knowing When to Speak and When to Shut Up
By Jennifer Slattery
“All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view on things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Philippians 3:15
Disagreements can shatter relationships and ministries, but avoiding tough conversations can cause equal damage. Truth without love is destructive. Love without truth is reckless, and twined within this often confusing dichotomy lies our God-given desire to seek peace and pursue relational and ministerial health.
How do we know when to speak and when to keep our big, opinionated mouths shut?
I’ve erred on both sides of the truth-love equation numerous times, and often with disastrous results. I’ve avoided difficult yet necessary conversations, only to find unhealthy patterns grow, and I’ve confronted issues to learn my timing or underlying assumptions or interpretations were off.
Through my pain, regret, and Scripture searching, I’ve found one action plan that never fails—prayer. Whatever the situation, I’ll only see a snippet of the issue at best, and even that will be tainted by my faulty perceptions and past experiences. But God sees everything clearly, including the hearts of all involved. He already knows the best, most truth-and-grace-filled solution.
Many times, if I slow down, take a step back, and spend time in prayer, I find He resolves the problem without my help. Though He might indeed ask me to speak truth on occasion, I’ve discovered heart-change is His responsibility, not mine. He is fully capable of changing perspectives and guiding all of us further from deception and closer to truth and clarity.
Knowing this, I begin my prayers by asking God to handle the situation, and I’m learning to patiently await His answer. The next time you find yourself caught between truth and love, take the issue to God, trusting He already has a solution in mind.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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Originally published Tuesday, 13 August 2019.