Daily Riches: Speech Shaped by Silence (Ruth Haley Barton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

“In the multitude of words there is much transgression,’ the Scriptures say. This is a truth that could drive us ministry folks to despair given the incessant flow of words from our mouths, pens, and computers. Those of us who deal in words are at great risk of misusing words and even sinning with our words due to the sheer volume of them! I don’t know about you but sometimes I can literally feel it—deep in my bones—that if I do not shut my mouth for a while I will get myself in trouble because my words will be completely disconnected from the reality of God in my own life. Silence is the only cure for this desperate situation. ‘Right speech comes out of silence ….’ wrote Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In silence our speech patterns are refined because silence fosters a self-awareness that enables us to choose more truly the words that we say. Rather than speech that issues from subconscious needs to impress, to put others in their place, to compete, to control, to manipulate, and put a good spin on things, we are able to notice our inner dynamics and make choices that are more grounded in love, trust, and God-given wisdom. …The Psalmist says, ‘When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your bed and be silent. Offer right sacrifices (in other words, stay faithful to your spiritual practices) and put your trust in the Lord.’ There are times when the most heroic thing a leader can do is to remain in that private place with God for as long as it takes to keep from sinning. In this place we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than everything else we could be doing in the moment. …The more I am called upon to use words, the more distressing things are, the more active leadership that is required of me, the more silence I need.” Ruth Haley Barton

“May the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Psalm 19:4

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Is the practice of silence a meaningful part of your life?
  • Do your words increasingly flow from a previous silence that has shaped them?
  • As you become more active, are you more inclined to sequester yourself more in silence?

Abba, keep a guard over my lips.

For More: Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and God seeks you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. I appreciate your interest! Please feel free to leave a comment or question. – Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

 

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