The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians:
Do not allow words that are rotten or belittle to come out of your mouth. Speak only words that build up your relationship according to the need of the journey that you are on together at that moment. Make sure that you speak grace to others so that they hear God’s voice through you. – Ephesians 4:29 (OGV)
I use the phrase Grace Talk to describe the meaning of Ephesians 4:29. The question that I ask myself is, “Did that person experience God’s grace because they talked with me?”
Often, my words are rotten, belittle, or completely out of place for the current conversation. I want my conversations to be enjoyable for others and not necessarily for me. I desire that others feel and sense God’s presence by talking with me.
I began engaging in Grace Talk many years ago and have been journaling both positives and negatives of my conversations. Things to do and not to do. Both have come from personal experience.
To Do/Not to Do
- Open a conversation with a positive comment. Do not begin with a snarky quip.
- Own your comments, critiques, or challenges. Do not use generals, “You always do this.” Or ghosts, “Everybody is saying this about you!” Or God (bringing the divine into a conversation), “God told me this and I prayed about it.”
- Time the conversation. Make sure you do not talk too much. Do not turn the conversation back to your thoughts and stories every time someone else speaks.
- Sense the Spirit in a conversation. There is a God-purpose in every conversation, even if it is a chance encounter. Thoughts of grace and encouragement will come from God’s Spirit to your mind during the conversation. Listen and speak!
- Grace Talk always calms a situation. Do not inflame a conversation with anger or exaggerated accusations.
- In an intense exchange of words there is a path of peace. Look for it. Anger and bitterness will cloud your vision! Be a peacemaker.
A leader has a stricter judgement. James writes, “Let not many of you become teachers (leaders) knowing that you will encounter a stricter judgment.”
As a leader, the burden is on you to lead and to listen – more than it is on others to speak loud enough that you can’t miss what they are saying. Those speaking to a leader will often downplay their words because of their respect or fear of the leader.
Conversational dissonance occurs when a follower believes words of confrontation were spoken, and at the same time the leader comes from the conversation believing the words were affirming.
I’ve listened to many people after confrontations with someone saying, “I told them.” And the leader saying, “They agreed with me!”
The same conversation – two impressions.
The leader could say that it was the follower’s responsibility to speak boldly. But “stricter judgment” teaches that the leader should listen softly and hear what the follower is saying.
The Spirit of God empowers Grace Talk.
I have seen where churches on the verge of splitting, marriages about to split, and friends becoming enemies – are healed with a few words of grace.