Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent; when they keep their mouths shut, they seem intelligent. Proverbs 17:28 NLT
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Several have said it in various configurations.
When I was young, I acted foolishly in a number of ways. One was talking during church. I suppose the church my dad pastored didn’t have a nursery. These were the days when children still cut their teeth on church pews and were taught to remain silent during church. Acting childishly resulted in a trip outside or to a back classroom for a learning lesson applied to the hind quarters.
My saintly grandmother—who didn’t want her only grandson getting a spanking, brought along a pocketful of Hershey Kisses—or silver bells as I called them. Stuffing my mouth with them for 45 minutes probably wasn’t healthy, but it helped me keep my mouth closed.
Wise King Solomon had a lot to say about when a person should and should not speak as well as what they should and should not say when they did speak.
Less talk promotes selflessness. As a youngster—and for some years thereafter, life was about me. Kids are narcissistic; so are some adults. But life isn’t about me. By cutting down on the amount of words I speak, I learn to hear about what’s going on in other’s lives.
Talking less enables me to actually hear what others are saying. If I’m doing all the talking, the other person doesn’t stand a chance. Nor can I hear them if I’m silent but mulling over in my mind what I’m going to say when they finish talking. That’s called lack of focus—or focusing on the wrong thing. Looking at the person speaking to me helps me listen and digest what they’re sharing.
Being a person of few words also helps me consider the importance of my words. One of my college professors had an annoying habit of pausing before he answered a question—so much so that I wanted to answer for him. Later, I understand his reasoning. He thought before he spoke—which, by the way, saves me from making many foolish statements.
Listening more than I speak opens up opportunities for me to help others. I truly hear and understand what they’re saying. Then I can speak—and act, with wisdom.
Are you speaking less so others can talk more?
Prayer: Father, give us wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent.