My mother (The Nana) has given my pa-len-ty of advice over the years. I have often heard her voice repeating little nuggets over and over in my head such as:
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
“Black pants pick up everything except men and money.”
For those of us with diarrhea of the mouth disease (sorry, I really hate that term but it’s just so descriptive) we need to stamp the first one on the backs of both hands so that we see it daily. Or better yet, commit this passage of scripture to memory:
“The tongue is a a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set no fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6)
Dang. That last sentence is pretty strong. The tongue – what you say – corrupts you, sets your life on fire, and is set on fire by hell. Geesh. Makes you want to never open your mouth, but that’s just not feasible (unless you go all out Monk). We all talk, every single day. So what in the world do we do?
First, “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Or as my dad would say, “Think before you open that alligator mouth.” (As a child I had to think about that one for awhile). But the point is to pause. To stop. Take control of your thoughts and apply scripture to them, making them obedient to Jesus’ teachings.
Next, “…encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Now I know sometimes you must speak words that aren’t so encouraging. But instead of, “You are so incompetent” how about “I believe you have the skills to do this work, I just don’t think you put forth your full effort.” I’m basically saying the same thing, but with very different words.
Try starting each sentence with a compliment, then pick the rest of your words very carefully, because as The Nana would say, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”