So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. (James 1:19–20)
Have you ever said something you later regretted? I have. Did it take more than one encounter before you learned the importance of pausing? Yes.
I complimented a coworker’s beautiful dress to another coworker, and she informed the other coworker I talked negatively about her. The truth was revealed when the three of us met. Lesson Learned: be careful what you say even if positive. We do not know whose digging ditches for us.
Another example was instead of joining other women who talked negatively about a young sister’s immodest dress, I had a private conversation with her and shared Scriptures. This young sister was very appreciative. However, she told her family a different story and a nasty voicemail message was left on my home phone answering machine.
She involved her family, and I returned the phone call and asked to be put on speaker. I wanted everyone to hear the same conversation. The young sister admitted to her family she lied. Lesson Learned: Invite spiritual mothers or members of leadership as witnesses.
There was another time when two Christians I respected had an ungodly conversation about me. One of them did not realize they pocket dialed my cell phone, and since I had forgotten to turn it back on my voicemail recorded every negative word said about me and my spiritual endeavors. Lesson Learned: Not everyone is converted.
Pausing before responding gives us the opportunity to collect our thoughts and get a handle on our emotions to avoid saying what we would later regret. It allows time for our mind to settle and remember Whose we are and how we must represent Him to convey our feelings in a responsible, authentic and congruent way. Remember, practice the pause. It is not easy at times, but it must be done to please God.