I recently sat with a dear friend who was unpacking some information that was dropped into her life. It was delivered with no ill will, but also with no consideration for the resulting consequences. And in this case, there was significant fallout.
Unwanted information and unexpected news can derail our plans and leave us feeling entirely off course. Depending on the source and the intent, we can also be left with broken relationships and even worse, broken hearts.
If you’ve ever fallen prey to the venom of an unruly tongue, you know the sting can be far-reaching and long-lasting. And let’s be honest, our own tongues could use a good taming every now and then, right?
Last week I shared how much I value authentic faith, and how it looks in our lives as believers. If our desire is to be honest and transparent with our whole life, then that should also be reflected in our words. Authentic words reach in, relate, and wrap around the heart that desperately needs to hear God’s truth. (←Tweet that.)
Words are powerful, and the spirit and method in which they’re delivered can either be authentic or entirely self-serving. Our words can bear a burden and we need to consider their weight before we ask another to carry them. (←Tweet that.)
So how do we communicate with authenticity? How do we speak words that are a reflection of a life lived honestly and humbly before God?
- Honest words come from honest motives.
If we can share words that are going to grow a person’s faith and point them to the goodness of God, we should speak up—and chances are they’ll listen. (Ephesians 4:29) Before we open our mouth, we should check our heart. Is our desire to speak truth or spread information (eg. gossip)? Will the recipient be encouraged and pointed toward positive action or left frustrated and confused? If the purpose of my words is to rid myself of guilt, prove myself right, or cause division, then my motives are far from honest. Authentic words leave the recipient grateful you spoke them.
- Words shouldn’t bring unwanted consequences.
We can find ourselves the bearer of information that doesn’t directly impact us, but could be a detonated bomb in the life of another. That’s called bad news. I don’t want to speak words that wreak havoc and chaos. Consider the consequences. If we know the words we speak will undo another person, we best re-route them. Maybe they are best never said, or maybe they just need to be spoken at the right time. (Proverbs 17:27-28) Authentic communication does not damage people.
- Our words must be preceded and followed by our actions.
If we are going to share information, speak truth, or impart wisdom to another, we need to be prepared to link arms and go on the journey. It’s about them, not us. Our words must be delivered at a time, in a place, and with a tone that conveys our authentic heart motive. (Proverbs 25:11) We can’t drop words and run. We walk the path alongside our brother or sister in Christ until they feel steady enough to walk alone. We speak, and then we listen. If you can’t follow through, don’t start the conversation. Authentic people walk the talk.
- Authentic communication begins with God.
It all begins and ends here. If we can honestly and authentically communicate with God, then doing so with people grows easier. When we pause and process (pray) our thoughts and words before God, we’ve invited Him into the conversation and allowed Him to direct our path. (Proverbs 20:18) Then any words that leave our mouth are filtered through His council, delivered in His strength, and backed by His spirit. If we can’t say it to God first, it’s not fit for public consumption. Authentic words are spoken with God’s blessing.
All of us have words we wish we could take back, conversations we would re-write given the opportunity. The most beautiful part of authentic faith, and so authentic words, is that it is laden with grace. When we misspeak (or misstep), God is willing and ready to forgive us if we’ll approach with sincerity and humility. The same can usually be said of people.
When we choose honesty with our words, we choose God. Might the words of our mouth be our offering of authentic faith before a gracious God. ♥
You can also find these words linked up at my favorite spots: Holly Barrett (#testimonytuesday), Jennifer Dukes Lee (#tellhisstory), Holley Gerth (#coffeeforyourheart), and Kristin Hill Taylor (#threewordwednesday).