It’s difficult to hold your mouth right when Barney Fife ( Sammy Sawyer) surprises you at a luncheon. This picture reminded me of helping my dad fix things around the house or at the laundry business he owned. He would say “You gotta hold your mouth right” when working on some equipment repairs or hammering a nail. When something went wrong, he would say “I guess I wasn’t holding my mouth right.” I always wondered how that helped or hindered something getting fixed. It doesn’t. It is an old funny saying that describes the feeling when attempting to do something that you are not sure of, but hoping that it still works.
In an other way, we really should hold our mouth right when talking with someone, Here are some thoughts about that…
“Never miss a good chance to shut up!” – Will Rogers
“I have often regretted my speech but never my silence.” -Publillius Syrus
“Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything.” – Proverbs 13:3 (MSG)
We all need help in this important area of our lives. How can we get a grip on this tendency to speak too quickly? Here are some suggestions I have found very helpful as I continue to learn to “Hold My Mouth Right”…
1. THINK BEFORE you SPEAK.
A lot of regretful words and conversations can be prevented by taking time to gather our thoughts before saying something on impulse. Some conversations are best left “unfinished’, as no more really needs to be said…we should refrain from “always having the last word” in everything. When you can improve on silence…speak, if not…don’t.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” -Psalms 19:14 (NLT)
2. SPEAK with GRACE not with ANGER.
Raising your voice can make the situation even worse, it immediately turns off the other person and puts them in a more defensive mode. As a result, it only increases the tension. The Bible has some very clear wisdom on this…”A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” – Proverbs 15:1 (NLT). You can not control what another person says, but you can control your response.In fact, you are responsible for how you react.
3. CULTIVATE good LISTENING skills.
Listen first. Don’t race ahead in your mind about what you think they are wanting to say…this can lead to wrong assumptions and misunderstanding.Some one has said; “The only exercise some people ever get is jumping to conclusions.” Get the facts, Ask them questions to clarify and find out more about their side of the situation. Every situation does not require a personal comment from you as they share with you.
4. ASK GOD to HELP you to GROW in this area of your relationships.
See this an opportunity to grow and mature in your faith. “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce righteousness that God desires.So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the Word that God has planted in your hearts.” – James 1: 19-21 (NLT) Let God and the power of His Word continue to encourage, equip, guide you in this important area of your life.