Your Barney Rubble

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”- James 1:19

Are there are any Flintstones fans out there (Yabba-dabba-do)? This cartoon featured best friends who were very different. The main character, Fred Flintstone, was a rough and tough character. He was easily agitated, would have fits of rage, and was ready to yell at and fight with everyone. During his meltdowns his buddy, Barney Rubble, would help calm him down by counting to “10.” In this increasingly long and exponentially challenging season, the Holy Spirit has been the buddy I have needed to remind and help me to calm down, slow down, and watch my words.

We need cooler heads to prevail with so many heavy issues and hot topics being processed, discussed, and argued over. These are weighty matters that need much wisdom. These are not simple “conversation starters” such as: Which person had the best outfit at the Oscars? Or which NBA teams was the best in the last decade? No, we are talking about big issues that need big breakthrough: Covid-19; Racism and Social Injustice; Reopening Businesses and Regathering Churches, to name a few.

In the Bible we see individuals who brought wisdom, balance, and truth when things were getting out of hand and off track: When the Pharisees sought to kill Jesus, a fellow leader, Nicodemus, questioned the justice of convicting a person without their being heard (John 7:51); When the disciples were afraid to allow Paul to be a part of their community, Barnabas confirmed that this former enemy had a genuine conversion (Acts 9:26-27); When ten spies returned from promised land with a negative report, Caleb shares good news (Numbers 13:30).

I believe that the Lord wants to teach us how to better guard our lips, speak the truth in love, and know how to answer those who come seeking answers, complaining about issues, or struggling through these times. It is important to consider the “How?” “When?” and “Who?” as you share your heart, position, and beliefs. In Colossians 4:6 Paul tells us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Here are three quick ways to improve our speech:

1) Let us speak from place of conviction and edification, not emotion or reaction.

Doing a quick heart check is a good place to start before the engine of the mouth starts running. We can prayerfully and humbly address any issues that would contaminate our words. Am I looking to win an argument or gain a friend? Am I needing to be right or wanting people to know the truth?

2) Submit the message to someone else first.

Before clicking the send button on “that” email/text, it could be wise to process what you are going to say with someone else. This can help to convey your heart, clarify the issue(s), and temper your feelings.

3) Not every forum is right fit for the discussion.

This may be the most important one. Technology provides so many platforms for us to communicate and express our views. A Facebook post for everyone to see or a passing comment as you leave a room, can create a bigger mess and cause more injury than you intend. When there are people unfamiliar with you or where there is a setting that does not allow for greater dialogue, judgments are bound to be made and feelings are going to get hurt. This does not mean we need to avoid tough conversations and deep issues in our world, relationships, lives, and faith. Rather, let’s engage in healthy, meaningful, and beneficial talks by giving time for each other to share, following-up to make sure the person is good and understood where you are coming from, and even scheduling another time to connect on the topic of discussion. Now, more than ever, it is time for us to be more available to listen and be slower to speak.

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