What Are You Really Saying?
Have you ever wished you said something just a little differently, or not at all? Or perhaps it wasn’t even what you said, but rather the tone in which you said it? Perhaps you’ve had a sore throat and lost your voice, or a cyst in your throat and therefore had to limit your conversation. What if our ability to speak was limited as much as our time is limited? What if you were allowed only 1,000 words a day? What would you say? Would you consider your words more carefully?
In reality, our opportunity to speak is limited; much like our time. So what are you really saying? As a microchurch leader and a disciple of Christ, what point are you trying to get across, and does it point to Jesus? “For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Just like how we encourage the gift of prophecy within our microchurch gatherings, we are sure to examine those words to see that they align with Scripture and are given in a spirit of love. How quick are we to examine our own words in the same manner?
Preach Not Ourselves
As believers in the faith, we recognize that God spoke this universe into existence, and that there is indeed power of life and death in our tongue. A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver, and a man finds joy in giving an apt reply- and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 25:11,15:23)
When we choose to speak the words of Christ, those words have the power to bring forth health to the body, sweetness to the soul, peace, edification, deliverance, nourishment, joy, reconciliation, knowledge, freedom, wisdom, thanksgiving, clarity, healing, truth, and eternal life. Even Jesus did not speak on His own authority saying, “For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that His command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50).
Through Christ’s example, who modeled for us submission with His words, how is this (submitting your words to God the Father) manifested in your own life? When it comes to preparing for your microchurch Bible teaching, responding to questions, debriefing with your apprentice, or even at home with family members or in the classroom or office, or perhaps with some unbelievers, how willing are we to listen first without making assumptions, or snap judgments? And when we speak, are our words shedding light and bearing witness to the truth?
Speak as servants for Jesus’ sake
A man of understanding holds His tongue, and delights not in airing his own opinion, but in honoring others with his words. As disciples, we are cautious with our words not letting any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).
Have you taken the time to analyze how or what you are saying? How do you talk about yourself? Are the stories you share self-promoting, or Christ glorifying? Remember, humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s putting yourself in the right place. Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips (Proverbs 27:2).
How do you talk about others? If they were present in the conversation, would it bring a smile to their face? Are they actually being built up, or torn down with your words? When we speak, we can choose to side with Satan the accuser, or Christ and His love, which covers all things. Jesus tells us, “on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36).
Perhaps what you are sharing is in fact true, but does not bear witness to the Truth. Have you taken the time to consider the other person, search your motives, and ruminate on the lasting fruit your words will bear? What seeds are your words planting? “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” (Proverbs 18:8). As microchurch leaders, your members entrust you with very sensitive information. It is therefore critical that we guard that trust, and know what to do with it.
Here are a few tangible ways in which we can do this well as a microchurch leader.
- If someone has trusted you with private information, keep it private. Love covers, it does not expose. However, heed wisdom when perhaps further steps maybe necessary, such as involving an unbiased spiritually mature third party or counselor for the safety and wholeness of the individual.
- Consider the tone in which you speak, what you are speaking and for what purpose you speak. Who are you looking to edify? Or could your words be planting harmful seeds of discord?
- Create a culture of safety within your microchurch. This needs to be communicated and re-communicated. Saying things like, “I want to remind you that this is a safe place where you can share things on your heart or in your life and it stays here and straight to the throne room of heaven in prayer. We are not here to judge, none of us have it perfect but we all are seeking to grow together in Christ, and we recognize that this requires vulnerability and transparency.”
- Set the example. Which means when someone is sharing sensitive information, can they trust you with it? Have you set the example by not gossiping and also not allowing for gossip within your microchurch?
Preach Jesus Christ as Lord
Scripture tells us that no man can tame the tongue. This is why we need to seek His wisdom to know how to listen, when and if to speak, and how to respond. This requires faith, discernment, grace and humility. If you have been trapped by what you’ve said, go free yourself by humbling yourself in repentance, not just to the Lord, but also to your neighbor. This is how we preach Jesus Christ as Lord when we fall short.
Because faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17), we want to speak His words. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power forever and ever (1 Peter 4:11). Therefore to paraphrase the apostle Paul, let us be wise, making the most of every opportunity, for our time and words are limited and the days are evil. Let our conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer everyone, preaching not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord.