By Robert White

Dr. Robert White was raised in central Florida and completed his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Central Florida. After college, he completed the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Luther Rice Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. For more than 40 years he has served as pastor of churches in Florida and in Massachusetts. In October 2016, Dr. White joined Care For Pastors as a Pastoral Counselor/Coach. Robert currently resides with his wife, Kaye, in Leesburg, Florida.

    16 Times to Hold Your Tongue

    Wednesday, March 06, 2024

    Yes, even pastors need to “hold their tongues”. There is a Psalm I like to quote during these times. I have turned this verse into a prayer:

    “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 (ESV)

    How many situations and circumstances could be better if I would just learn to hold my tongue?  How many lives would be impacted if I would just learn to hold my tongue?  (You might want to read James 3 again.)

    Here are sixteen times that it is best to just remain silent.

    1. When you have a criticism about a church service or ministry leader. It will only be destructive to call someone else’s attention to the flaw you have noticed.
    2. When you’re tempted to say, “I told you so.”
    3. When you want to complain about the weather, the traffic, the policy, the president, your spouse, your kids, or your grandkids. Think about how grumbling affects others and choose to focus on the positive.
    4. When you are criticized. A response may be called for, but it is usually best not to give it in the heat of the moment. If you wait 24 hours you will have a totally new perspective.
    5. When you have information that makes someone look bad.
    6. When someone is upset about a problem or something that happened and you have had a similar experience. Relate what you went through only if your objective is to pass on something you learned.  Be sure that you are not shifting the focus of the conversation to yourself.
    7. When you are tempted to judge or criticize someone.
    8. When a friend’s situation would make a great point in the conversation, but you don’t have permission to share the story with others. Violated TRUST is extremely hard to regain.
    9. When you are tempted to correct someone on a minor point as they relate a story or experience.
    10. When you think someone has made a poor decision, but it is too late for him or her to change his or her mind. Just keep it to yourself.
    11. When you are tempted to tell something about yourself for the purpose of impressing someone.
    12. When you have information that might discourage others.
    13. When you are not sure of the accuracy of your information. It’s better to check your information and check your source.
    14. When you are in a conversation, and you are tempted to be defensive. It’s best to just keep listening.
    15. When you are with someone who has just lost a loved one. It’s probably best to just hold your tongue. Here are some things you can say, “I love you and I’m praying for you.”; “I’m here for you.”; “What can I do to help?”
    16. When you are angry, it’s best to hold your tongue. You will rarely say anything helpful when you are angry.

    As you can tell, there are any number of times when it is best to remain silent. As you begin each day, ask God to fill your mouth with words of life, hope, and healing, grace, truth, and blessing.  These are the only words that should be coming from our mouths anyway.

    I leave you with this important exhortation from the apostle Paul, “Let no corrupt 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)

    Pastors, here is one time you DO want to speak up: Speak up when you are feeling drained, exhausted, conflicted, hurting, and lonely. Care for Pastors is here for you. Reach out to us.

    Help us continue providing resources of care for pastors and their families.

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