I like a quote that I saw today – “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say.” (Novelist and poet Barbara Kingsolver)
Too many people spend way too much time trying to figure out what they think others want to hear from them, rather than thinking about their position on things and what they have to say about it. Perhaps they have a well thought out position, but the real issue is whether or not they need to (or should) say anything at all.
It’s a good idea, before you share you opinion or view on something, to ask yourself two questions – 1. has anyone asked for my opinion or view on this; and 2. will sharing what I have to say have any positive impact on things? If no one has asked for your opinion; or if stating it is just going to add to an already negative situation, then consider just saying nothing.
Silence is often misconstrued as wisdom; so It is better to keep your mouth shut in situations, where people might consider anything you say to be an indication of your ignorance or prejudices, than to open your mouth and remove all doubts.
Figuring out what you have to say about something forces you to confront and hopefully re-examine the basis of whatever beliefs you have about it. It is better to admit, “I really haven’t thought about that” than to spout off some ill-conceived response just to have something to say.
It is interesting, and somewhat alarming, that so many politicians do exactly what Kingsolver warns about. They change their position of things, or at least how they state their positions, to fit the moment – the speech they are giving or the interview they are doing. They are often called out on that and then the real weasel-wording starts.
In our personal lives it is important to give thought to our beliefs and positions on things before expressing ourselves and to stick with those beliefs and positions unless further thought or evidence proves that we were wrong and need to reconsider. And, if we have nothing to say, then don’t say it.
That goes for pastors, too!