Silence, Learn When To Speak and When To Keep Silent

Silence With Your Words

Silence, I have thought about this subject for a long time and am challenged by it. Honestly, I have not heard anyone preach on this subject. However, Jesus always spoke and kept silent at the right times, so it is important for us to understand it. I pray that God would give me the same discernment that Christ showed in His life. Mike
Some people may think that to develop the discipline of solitude, a person just needs to be silent or go to a secluded spot, be quiet and have God speak. This indicates that a person does not have a complete understanding of what it means to be silent.

If we want to hear from God and understand how He is leading us, we need to listen. “Though silence sometimes involves the absence of speech, it always involves the act of listening. Simply to refrain from talking, without a heart listening to God, is not silence.” (Richard Foster).

When we develop the disciplines of silence and solitude, we will see and hear better. This is true in our communication with God. However, we will also gain insight into the lives of people. Being silent does not mean there is no talking but rather we learn to control when to listen and speak.

Proverbs 10:19 – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise”. In other words, too much talking leads to the potential of sinning; so be smart and control your speech.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian leader who spoke out against Nazi Germany said, “Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence out of speech.” Since silence develops self-awareness, we will have the insight to choose appropriate words. However, if we are silent when we should speak, that is not the discipline of silence.

Ruth Haley Barton understood this concept when she said, “In silence, we consciously trust ourselves to God rather than following our human impulses to fix, control, or put people in their place. Engaging in rhythms of silence and stillness that eventually give way to well-chosen words and right actions is a pattern that teaches us in very concrete ways to wait on God.”

How Did Jesus Use Silence?

Silence is especially hard to practice when we are wronged. The impulsive response is to fire back words or express our emotions non-verbally. We do not allow God the opportunity to defend us when our first response is to jump to words. It is very difficult to control our tongue. Just ask the writer in James 3. Yet if we apply the truth that a gentle (controlled) answer repels wrath and anger (Proverbs 15:1), we are becoming more like Jesus. Remember. Jesus responded to truth, not accusations. Silence at the appropriate time can have much more impact and speak much more eloquently than thousands of words.

How to Listen to the Holy Spirit

The key is to intently listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading and respond in obedience. This does not mean a person with a quiet personality is more godly than someone who naturally talks more, or vise-versa. It is how we use our words in sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading. If we are being led by the Spirit to say something and we do not, that is just as much a sin as rambling on when we are to be silent.

I am in agreement with Ruth Barton when she shared that, “The more we are called upon to use words, the more distressing things are, the more that active leadership is required of us, the more silence we need.” Listening to God allows us to respond correctly and appropriately. The discipline of silence provides the balance between using and not using words.

Chew on this concept of silence and solitude. Seek the Lord’s understanding and leading to how to become more like Him in this area of our lives.

Proverbs 10:20-21 says, “The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.” Sometimes, silence truly is golden.

WILD (Wise Intentional Leadership Development) is a ministry that teaches Biblical leadership which transcends cultural differences. We currently have multiple ministry bases in Africa and Asia. To learn more about WILD, visit our website at

Youth Ministry – Potential In Peter

Can you remember when you met someone important for the first time? How did you dress? What did you say? Did you trip over your feet? Maybe you’ve never met someone important, so can you recall when you wanted to make a GOOD impression on someone of the opposite sex? You may have brushed your teeth a little bit extra hard that morning, rehearsed what you were going to say when you had the opportunity. For guys, it was a little extra deodorant and for the girls, you put on a little extra lip gloss and made sure your hair was all in place.

Meeting the Most Important Person

If you acted this way when you met another person, can you imagine meeting Jesus Christ in person? Well, Simon (Peter) experienced that when Jesus lived on the earth. What do you think Jesus’ first impressions of Simon (Peter) were? Peter was a guy who was ordinary looking. There was nothing fancy about his clothing; he had messy hair and probably smelled like fish because he was a fisherman. In his defense, he did not have advance warning that he was going to meet Jesus. Andrew, Simon’s brother came running to him, exclaiming that he had found the Messiah and he had to come immediately to meet Jesus (John1:40-42). This is like when a musician from your favorite band is going to be signing autographs and you grab your best friend to join you. Simon never had time to put on his best clothes.

Yet the first thing Jesus says to Simon was not, “Boy, you smell like fish!” Rather it was that he was getting a name change. “Cephas” or “Peter” was the new name and it meant rock. “Just call me the ‘Rock’”, Simon thought to himself.

What did Jesus see in Peter to make that kind of statement? All along Jesus kept a close listening ear to know what God the Father was doing, so Jesus saw the potential in Peter long before Peter even had a clue.

What Do People See in You?

You need to get around positive, influential people who will build qualities into your life, people from whom you can learn skills and character traits. There is a saying, you become like the people you hang around with.

Who is making a positive influence in your life? Are you hanging around people who want to develop and help you to make positive decisions? Find an adult or a group of adults (parents, teachers, youth leaders, relatives, friends) who believe in you and see things in you that you do not see in yourself. These people will speak positively into your life, though sometimes you may need to be corrected, people who speak wisdom from the Scriptures and genuinely care for you.

Jesus did that in Peter’s life and it changed him for the rest of his life. He was used mightily for God’s glory in his life. God wants to use you in an awesome way as well. Often it begins with the encouragement of other Christians.

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