Speaking My Mind

Speaking My Mind

Question: I’m an honest and frank person. I speak my mind, but sometimes I end up hurting people, including those who are especially important to me—family, friends, and coworkers. I don’t want to do that, of course, but at the same time I don’t want to be dishonest or stop being “me.” What to do?

Answer: This is a common dilemma, and it reflects a trend in certain societies today: a compulsion to be very honest, direct, and outspoken about one’s own feelings and opinions. In many cases it stems from a sincere desire to not be phony or hypocritical, which is good, but it also has its downside. As you’ve found out, it can lead to strained relationships and grief on both sides.

It comes down to what’s most important—being “you” or being loving. If the two were always one and the same, there wouldn’t be any problem. But the fact of the matter is that by nature we aren’t always loving. We aren’t, but God is, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). So it’s really a choice between being ourselves and being more godly, more Christlike. When our natural reaction is to say something that could hurt or offend others, we shouldn’t speak our mind but rather pray for the Holy Spirit to give us the right words—loving words—to speak instead. “The love of Christ compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). In other words, it restrains us from “letting it all hang out” and compels us to do the loving thing instead.

Making the decision to want to do the loving thing—choosing that over self—is the first step. Praying for God’s help is the second. Next comes making it a habit, and for most people that’s the hardest part and takes the longest. That new habit will come quicker if you practice the following:

Ask yourself, “Is it loving?”
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
Choose your words carefully. “Pray before you say.”
Be courteous.
Respect others’ views, preferences, and feelings.
Respond to problems constructively.
Read, absorb, and apply God’s Word. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good … for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

Here’s a great passage to help you get started: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3–5). Happy transformation!

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