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The Value of Balanced Conversations

Do you ever have those moments when you walk away from a conversation and think to yourself, I talked WAY too much? Or maybe the opposite is true, and you walk away thinking, Why didn’t I say more?

I have.

The other day I was having a difficult conversation, and it wasn’t until about an hour later that I thought of all the “brilliant” things I could have said. But my brain didn’t connect with my tongue in the moment. I also remember numerous conversations where I wished my brain had made my tongue silent. Too much said can inflict wounds and too little said may leave wounds unattended.

Finding balance is the key. In his brilliant guide to spiritual community, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that silence comes out of solitude whereas speech flows from community. When we enter solitude, silence allows us to listen to the Word speak. When we enter community, speech follows listening for the good of others. Listening is the doorway for talking, and when we fail to listen we fail to have meaningful speech.

Bonhoeffer puts it this way: “Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech” (Life Together, 78). Silence does not create solitude just as chatter does not create community. But when we enter into solitude with ears to hear, silence is a gift of healthy communication. Likewise, when we enter into community with a listening heart, speech becomes a gift of response rather than a force of one’s will.

I’m often uncomfortable with silence, because I’ve grown so accustomed to noise and chatter. But as Bonhoeffer says, “Real silence, real stillness, really holding one’s tongue comes only as the sober consequences of spiritual stillness” (ibid., 79). Could it be that I fear silence, because I lack spiritual stillness?

In the fellowship of conversation, I quickly want to add my voice in order to prove my worth, but that is the wrong motivation for speech. Silence leads to right hearing, which flows into right speaking for the benefit of others, not for selfish gain.

I challenge you to learn the value of silence and speech. “The Word comes not to the chatterer but to him who holds his tongue” (idem.). And then when we have been in the stillness to receive, we step into community to give our words that should always be “gracious, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).

And may we always remember the words of the Teacher:

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2, ESV).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

So I'm Officiating My Son's Wedding...

Through the years I’ve done a lot of weddings, but in just a couple of days I will be conducting a wedding that is rather unique. It’s my son’s wedding.

This wedding will have much in common with all the other weddings I’ve officiated. There will be vows and rings, a unity candle, music, and the “nuptial kiss.” Bridesmaids and groomsmen will walk down the aisle. A ring bearer and flower girl will soon follow. And then everyone will stand as the bride is walked down the aisle in all her beauty and grace. I’ve experienced it a hundred times, each one as meaningful and glorious as the others.

But this one is different. In this wedding, I’m not just marrying friends or “parishioners,” or people I hardly know. In this wedding, I’m marrying my son and his beautiful fiancé. Some have asked me, “What will you say during the wedding that might be different, since the groom is your son?”

I’ve thought a lot about that, and rather than saving up for the ceremony, I wanted to share with you. Why? Because even though I’m referencing these words to my son and his fiancé, these words apply to every marriage. If you’re single, maybe these words will help you prepare for a possible marriage one day. If you’re married, maybe these words will help you stay married. They most certainly have helped me.

First, spend more time on marriage planning than on wedding planning. I’m amazed at how much time, energy, and MONEY couples spend on their wedding but are unwilling to invest in pre-marital counseling, marriage conferences and other resources to help them grow over the long haul. Invest in your future, not just in an event.

Second, seek a mentor couple and friends who will walk with you through the good times and the bad. Don’t go it alone. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community…. Let him who is not in community beware of being alone” (Life Together, 77).

Third, memorize the following seven words and use them often (and with sincerity): “I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?” And if you’re the spouse hearing these words, you only have one word to memorize (and use with sincerity): “Yes.” A wise church planter once gave this advice, “Love keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

Fourth, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” I know marriage can be hard. Some of you are facing challenges I can’t even imagine (although I’ve seen an awful lot). But marriage is a sacrament, a holy institution bound by Christ, led by the Spirit, in obedience to our heavenly Father. You might feel like giving up on your marriage, but God never gives up on you. Hold fast to Him and to one another, because He is always holding fast to you.

Yes, there is much more I could say about marriage, but space doesn’t allow. To Will and Michaela: I love you. I’m proud of you. I’m praying for you. And I will always be there for you. God has expressed those words to me many times, in spite of myself, and now I say them to you. Vade cum Deo. Go with God.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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