Encouraging Speech is Not “for the Birds”

Sometimes I say too much. My intentions are good, and I realize the listener doesn’t need to know all that I know—or think I know—about how to solve her problem. But, sometimes I say too much.

Maybe God was teaching me a lesson when I saw a mockingbird who didn’t sing.

The bird flew across my neighbor’s yard and perched on a bush. Blue jays, cardinals, and sparrows were filling the morning air with musical notes but not this mockingbird. She simply turned her head from side to side as if listening intently and then flew away.

A few moments later she returned, gripped a limb, and sang her heart out as if she had a very important message to convey.

How like this wise bird I want to be—not chirping and singing out constantly as soon as I arrive on the scene but thoughtfully listening and waiting patiently for the right moment to share. Do you agree that our words would sound more melodious in the ears of the listener if we adopted this practice?

How often do we offer advice or interject our experience before a friend or co-worker finishes sharing her plight? I need to listen attentively and to pray silently for wisdom before responding. What about you?

The Psalmist penned a prayer to help us.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

                                                                                   –Psalm 19:14 ESV*

One way to develop winsome speech is to study Scripture. Some helpful verses:

1. Avoid the “clanging cymbal” speech and speak with love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

                                                                                 –1 Corinthians 13:1

2. Listen and wait before you speak.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

                                                                  –James 1:19

3. Watch the timing. 

. . . a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

                                                                            –Ecclesiastes 3:7b

4. Speak words that edify others.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

                                                                     –Ephesians 4:29

5. Select words carefully.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

                                                                      –Proverbs 25:11

I’m thankful the mockingbird observation reminded me of the biblical truths about talking. I want my words to be like “apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Please help me and other readers by sharing your thoughts below.

*All verses are quoted from the English Standard Version.

10 thoughts on “Encouraging Speech is Not “for the Birds”

  1. Great reminders, Jeannie! I most need this advice in completely listening to my husband before speaking!

  2. One of my favorite verses, Psalm 19:14, but they are all important to guide us. Thanks Jeannie.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Yes, Scripture gives us needed guidance for sure. I truly appreciate you reading and commenting, Cathy.

  3. Wise words from Scripture Jeannie, and beautifully written!

  4. Oh, Jeannie, you know just how to share what I need to hear. Sometimes (too many), I speak before I think. I will remember you lesson from the mocking bird. Thank you for blessing us with your message. The scriptures you selected touched my heart.

  5. Me too, Jeannie. I need to work on being quick to listen, slow to speak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *