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.”

 

Daily Riches: The Worship of Might and the Bitter Irony of History (Abraham Heschel and J. Mullenburg)

“Why were so few voices raised in the ancient world to protest against the ruthlessness of man? Why are human beings so obsequious, ready to kill and ready to die at the call of kings and chieftains? Perhaps it is because they worship might, venerate those who command might, and are convinced that it is by force that man prevails. The splendor and pride of kings blind the people. The Mesopotamian, for example, felt convinced that authorities were always right. . . . The prophets repudiated the work as well as the power of man as an object of supreme adoration. They denounced ‘arrogant boasting’ and ‘haughty pride’ (Isa. 10:12), the kings who ruled the nations in anger, the oppressors (Isa. 14:4-6), the destroyers of nations, who went forth to inflict waste, ruin, and death (Jer. 4:7), the ‘guilty men, whose own might is their god’ (Hab. 1:11) … The end of public authority is to realize the moral law, a task for which both knowledge and understanding as well as the possession of power are indispensable means. Yet inherent in power is the tendency to breed conceit.’ . . . one of the most striking and one of the most pervasive features of the prophetic polemic [is] the denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises. The hunger of the powerful knows no satiety; the appetite grows on what it feeds. Power exalts itself and is incapable of yielding to any transcendent judgment; it “listens to no voice” (Zeph. 3:2) .'[2] It is the bitter irony of history that the common people, who are devoid of power and are the prospective victims of its abuse, are the first to become the ally of him who accumulates power.” Abraham Heschel

My power works best in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

Moving From Head to Heart

  • How much of what Heschel describes from the ancient world do you see today? (e.g., the worship of power? the “bitter irony” of the manipulation of the powerless?)
  • Do you agree with the Hebrew prophets “denunciation and distrust of power in all its forms and guises?” How does this affect your reading of the news? … your politics? …your life of faith?
  • God spoke through the prophets, and those prophets often focused on governments and what we might consider “political” issues. Do you think of God as being concerned with the politics of human history? Does it matter?

Abba, may we always speak up for the powerless – never contribute to the exploitation of the weak.

For More: The Prophets by Abraham Heschel

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. By goal is to share something of value you with in 400 words or less. Thanks for following and sharing my blog. – Bill

[2] J. Mullenburg, The Way of Israel

Daily Riches: Let Silence Do the Heavy Lifting (Susan Scott, Pierre Lacout, and Gunilla Norris)

“Silence makes us nervous. …we fear that silence may be interpreted as low self-esteem or questionable intelligence. …Many feel silence is a form of nonparticipation, signaling lack of interest. …For fear of being thought clueless, have you dived into a conversation, throwing out opinions, arguing your point, defending your ideas throughout a debate, only to discern later, once you stopped to catch your breath, that there was another, wiser road you could have taken? It is understandable that emerging leaders believe they need to be fast on their conversational feet …Fierce conversations, however, require silence. In fact, the more emotionally loaded the subject, the more silence is required. And, of course, this carries over into our homes, into our personal relationships. Often we are simply trying to intuit something about ourselves, our companions, or the topics themselves. Sometimes we need silence in which to make a decision about the closeness we feel for our companions or the distance we feel from them. Once in a precious while, silence is merely abstinence from self-assertion.  …Often my role is to slow down a conversation, and silence is my greatest tool in this. As we talk with people, as we sit with them in silence, what is in the way–anger, numbness, impatience, manipulation, rigidity, blame, ego, cruelty, ambition, insensitivity, intimidation, pride–may  fall away. It is in silence that such attributes, emotions, and behaviors reveal themselves as unnecessary. …My conversations with the people most important to me, silence has become my favorite sound, because that is where the work is being done. Of all the tools I use during conversations and all the principles I keep in mind, silence is the most powerful of all.”  Susan Scott

“When we can stand aside from the usual and perceive the fundamental, change begins to happen. …Silence brings us to back to basics, to our senses, to our selves.” Gunilla Norris

“Silence is the welcoming acceptance of the other.” Pierre Lacout

“fools multiply words”  Ecclesiastes 10:14

Moving From Head to Heart

  • Can you remember that “silence is required” in your next “emotionally loaded” conversation?
  • In your relationships, can you trust silence to “do the heavy lifting” like that described above?
  • Will you embrace silence and be brought “back to your senses?”

Abba, I come today only with silence.

For More: Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott*

*Special thanks to Tad Blackburn for making me aware of this book.

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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