November 16, 2011

Spiritual Disciplines XXXVI: Phonetic Phlamethrower

Pontificating, Preaching or Just Flappin' Your Gums

The Bible speaks mightily about words, what we say and the use of our tongues. Our tongues are the clearest indicator of what resides within our hearts and should be controlled and observed very carefully as it can be a tool of righteousness to build up or a weapon of iniquity and to tear things down. When I see people “spinning” things, fabricating things or just pontificating erroneously I feel compelled to intercede. Its usually an issue of me knowing bad, biased or convoluted information is being passed off as fact. This type of communication has caused wars, destroyed churches and even caused the Fall of man. I have a tendency disassemble things people say when I sense incongruities or discontinuity. I do it when I sense something is askew with a statement(s) another person is making. I suppose it might be considered spiritual discernment. It is done to find the hole in logic so I can work backwards from it to find the digression in thinking processes. I don’t do it to everyone just the ones in which I sense duplicity or malevolence. One thing I use to do but do not do anymore is feign knowing something or bluff. I need to present an image of Christlikeness as I believe I am being called to a position of servant leadership and/or a pastor/teacher at least in part. To claim more intelligence or authority than I really have is deceptive and frankly, not worthy of the position I am being called to (leadership/teacher). Humbleness means knowing when to admit you don’t know something and going to find the answer. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t know but I know someone who does”.

He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. Proverbs 10:18-20

Monologue of One or Dialogue of Two

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17

I use to need to totally control a conversation but very recently I am learning to back off and take the backseat to others that feel the need to occupy the alpha male role. If they are wrong about what they are saying or are being overtly pretentious to gain attention I know from experience that it will always come back to haunt. The loose tongue always writes verbal checks that that the owner can’t cash in action(s) if left to run rogue. Those that need to control a conversation even when they are ill-informed are free to do so. I have had friends like this, family members, and I myself was like this much to my dismay. I try to always remember and realize that it is better to be thought a fool than open my mouth and remove any doubts of this fact.

“Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.” Ecclesiastes 10:12

Drawing People Out Of Their Shell

Interjecting or responding immediately had always been a problem for me and to some extent still is but time and age has dulled this edge. I really needed to realize that people do not necessarily need input from me and sometimes it is better if I just keep my mouth shut. That being said, when I want to get to the core of where someone is at, I ask rhetorical questions that reach down to where people are or appear to be to try and draw them out. I have found that when I ask questions it makes people think for themselves. When people think for themselves they toil for things mentally a little bit more. Toiling seems to ingrain the idea(s) deeper which makes them stick more. The people/person that does this then appreciates it more and retains the ideas and thoughts better.

Knowledgeable & Spiritual or Clever & Sarcastic?

I believe a proper Christian person strives to be spiritual and well-informed. When the Holy Spirit comes on the believer at conversion not only does he bring power and authority to the believer…He also brings knowledge. Informed Christians are effective Christians. If we have the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from the dead why would be not at least expect an increase in knowledge of God? I suppose cleverness of word and fancy rhetoric helps get points across but without a baseline of knowledge and a rock-solid spiritual base…being witty and clever speech does little more than make people laugh. I’m sorry, but being a class clown ended in class. This is life and people need substance not subterfuge. Godly knowledge and spiritual guidance provides this for people. It gives them hope. Hope in Christ Jesus, it’s is where I begin and end and where all believers should also.

Teaching Conversations

This topic in particular is incredibly close to home for me as I believe this is the path the Lord is calling me to. Teaching others is what everyone tells me should be my ultimate end path until I go to be face-to-face with the Lord. Teaching the things of God is my passion but teaching and explaining things also in light of Biblical principles. I light up when I get to do it and many around me light up when they hear me or read me when I do it. It is as if I am a blaze that throws sparks out and lights others on fire through the burning embers. It consumes me in white hot flame. I never used to understand the wild-eyed joy from those speaking and teaching of Jesus or even wisdom in general but I myself can no longer avoid what it inevitable. I now need to learn to tone it down because it often comes off as a blowtorch in its intensity. I guess at this point I need to dial it back if I can because people want to be warmed by the friendliness and love of the flame and comforted. They do not want their hair singed off and have their skin cauterized ;)

Impatient Word & Unkind Words

Under severe duress I am occasionally prone to emotive outburst that I try to quickly rein back in. If I do “go off” I realize it is because I have not dealt with problems or issues leading up to them correctly. Systems rarely fail catastrophically and it is usually gradual and systemic. As such detrimental issues should be recognizable at earlier stages as symptoms that can be addressed. If I do not recognize these symptoms it is either because I am not paying attention, am distracted or in denial. Therefore the harsh or impatient words are often solicited not by others but out of frustration caused by my own stupidity or negligence.

Normal Conversational Posture

In as much humbleness I can muster, I will state that my fallback or normal conversational posture is casual and friendly littered with humor and insightful comments. I try to reach people where they are. I usually can hold a conversation with anyone “where they’re at”.

Overtly Critical or The Benefit of The Doubt?

If I continue to sense fruitless and poor repetitive behavior I will acknowledge that I will quickly grow impatient and attempt to rectify the repetitive nonsense that is clearly wrong or errant. If mistakes are made once or twice though I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. If errant or nonsensical behavior persists I usually turn more critical expecting a return to normalcy or more proper behavior based in a given or known expectation. If the behavior does not change it then becomes obvious that it is something deeper that must be addressed and it then needs to be dug out like a splinter in one’s finger before it abscesses and becomes more aggravating and troublesome.

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Psalm 34:12-13

Complimentary Backbiting

I generally do not make it a habit to talk about someone when they are not around. Even when nice things are said, others can take these comments incorrectly and pass them on incorrectly what they have heard. We must always remember there are layers to communication: What you said, what you think you said, what someone heard, what they think they heard, etc…How the final comment usually ends up when it reaches the ears of the one you were talking about is often not the way you said it, the way you intended it and it gets you in trouble. Communication through multiple channels is often like a massive game of "Pass It Down The Line", the more variables, the more chances of miscommunication.  If I absolutely need to speak about someone when they are not around it is never ever in a negative light…ever. It is done in truth with honest intent. To some extent I am building my character as I spea of others. Let’s be honest, talking about people when they are not around is usually backbiting gossip and rumormongering and as such is unbiblical.

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret. Proverbs 11:12-13

We need to realize that the tongue is flame and flame can destroy, ravage and burn. Conversely, it can also purify and cleanse, warm and be used as tool of productive means. How we choose to use it makes all the difference.

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity" Proverbs 21:23

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