Does this scripture sound familiar to you?
Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Or what about…
Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
So, let’s be honest, has your mouth ever gotten you into trouble?
I get paid to run my mouth for a living. But I’ve put my foot in my mouth so much that my breath probably smells like rubber soles. The problem is, my mouth is my superpower. But whenever I misuse it, it also becomes my kryptonite.
But over the past 26+ years as a professional speaker, I’ve learned to ask God for four things to prevent my mouth from getting me into so much trouble. I hope they will prevent you from doing the same.
Start With The End
Whether you’re standing on a stage behind a podium or in a room in front of your wife, follow the advice of Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Always start with the “end” in mind.
That’s not a lesson. That’s just smart advice.
Covey actually borrowed that truth from God because that’s exactly what God did when he created the earth and man. He started with the “END” in mind. So, how do you do that?
Before I speak, I always ask God to help me do 4 things:
1. God, help me not PRETEND when I speak
When you speak, simply tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Don’t exaggerate to make yourself look good or make the other person look bad. Don’t even tell a half-truth because, in reality, a half-truth is nothing but a whole lie. The Bible says to let your “yes” simply be “yes” and let your “no” simply be “no” (Matt 6:37). Your dialogue should be about communication, not manipulation.
2. God, help me not BEND when I speak
Whenever you open your mouth, never be afraid to speak the truth because you think it might be unpopular. In other words, don’t just go along to get along. That doesn’t empower people; it enables them. Whenever you bend and compromise the truth to keep the peace with others, you also compromise your integrity. Jesus called us to be peacemakers, not peacekeepers (Matt 5:9). And we know the secret to misery is to try to please everyone.
3. God, help me not DEFEND myself when I speak
It’s one thing to try to protect others by compromising (or bending) the truth, which is wrong. But it’s just as detrimental if you try to protect yourself from the truth by defending a wrong position. Never allow yourself to be what I call “stuck on stupid,” just so you can save face and protect your image or reputation. It’s not worth it, and you’ll eventually leave a trail of broken relationships in your wake. And even when you’re right, never try to defend yourself against someone who refuses to listen to the truth. Don’t take offense; just love them and pray for them (Matt 5:11 and Matt 5:44).
4. God, help me not OFFEND others when I speak
Yes, we are to speak the truth and not compromise it, but you should always speak the truth in love. Meaning, always cover your speech with kindness, compassion, gentleness, and mercy. I’m not saying I always do it, but that’s the goal. Even when you’re speaking the truth, it’s not just about being right, but about being and staying in right relationship with the other person (Eph 4:15). A good rule of thumb that I use before I speak “tough truth” to someone is to ask myself, Will it hurt me to tell them this? Because if it doesn’t hurt me too, then I probably shouldn’t speak it to you.
So, always start with the “ends” in mind before you open your mouth. I promise you, if don’t PRETEND, BEND, DEFEND, or OFFEND, not only will you stay out of trouble, you will stay in right relationship with those who matter most to you.
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