Think Before I Speak

My nine-year-old son loves to talk. He can chatter endlessly. And he only knows one volume: loud. I constantly remind him to use his inside voice, but I am still seeking evidence that he even has one.

His greatest challenge is that he speaks before he thinks. Am I the only one who can relate?! I once heard an acronym for the word T.H.I.N.K that has helped me in training my son—and myself:

True – Is what I am about to say true? This may seem like an obvious point, but it goes deeper than not telling lies. It is when I exaggerate details to promote myself. And it includes the time when God calls me to speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) to a fellow believer, but I remain silent because I am more concerned with what she thinks of me than bringing life-giving correction.

Helpful – Is what I am about to say helpful? As a mother of small children, I regularly face this. It is not helpful to tell my exhausted toddler in the middle of a meltdown that he is tired. True, but not helpful! It is also not helpful to ask questions trying to understand why my child did something childish. It is more helpful to clean up the milk than to ask how it got spilled.

Inspiring – Is what I am about to say inspiring? A definition I found online from the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines inspiring as “causing people to want to do or create something.” Words have the power to bring life. They can give encouragement and hope, or they can destroy. The first part of Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue is powerful enough to “bring death or life.” I want my words to be life-giving.

Necessary – Is what I am about to say necessary? Ecclesiastes 3:7b points out, there is “a time to be quiet and a time to speak.” Sometimes I may say something simply because I am uncomfortable with the silence. Mindless chatter. Useless remarks. The Bible calls these idle words, and Jesus issues a very sobering warning in Matthew 12:36 that each of us “‘must give an account on judgment day for every idle word.’”

Kind – Is what I am about to say kind? Kind words are not always nice. Sometimes it is kind to bring correction and pray the hearer will heed the warning, repent, and slam the door on the destructive plans the enemy has hiding just behind the seemingly attractive temptation to sin. I cannot be afraid to say something hard, but I want to imitate the woman in Proverbs 31:26 who “gives instructions with kindness.”

Most of us speak many words throughout our day. Each time we open our mouths, we face a choice to blurt out carelessly or to pause and T.H.I.N.K. It takes discipline, but in the power of Christ we can learn to say only what is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind. Please join me in praying as David did in Psalm 141:3, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.”

So what about you? How have the words of another person blessed you? When was a time that you paused to T.H.I.N.K before you spoke?

Michelle Maenche

Michelle is a wife and homeschooling mom who likes to keep things simple and homemade.  Her large family, with children ranging in age from infancy to teen, is always a party waiting to happen.  When she is able to find spare time, she enjoys reading, writing, and running.  She attended our Pelham campus and our Spartanburg campus before moving to the South Carolina Low Country.