“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
It seems every week, there is a global or national crisis that demands my outrage. I am often asked why I do not “speak out” on all the ills plaguing our generation, why I am not lending my song more often to the choir of bloggers. I do pay attention and I do care deeply about racial discord, injustice, the immigrant crisis, violence and the need for better systems and laws to protect the marginalized. I pray. I have conversations with serious thinkers. I meet with local and state leaders who can make a legislative difference. I invest my time and money into local solutions like our Dream Centers.
Godly dissent and petition in the public square has its place and role in the pastoral vocation, but I want my published and pronounced words to be wise and helpful. Trust is merited by measured responses, not angry rants. I will not be silent when prophetic protest is needed, but trust is earned and it is fragile.
When we speak, let’s have something to say that is based on facts and scripture and not just emotion and rhetoric. Social media is a powerful tool to communicate quickly to large crowds, but it is a cheap way to build sincere relationships that lead to difficult, but needed change. It is much easier to hide behind a keyboard than to meet face to face with those who oppose you and to find common ground. I would rather my words heal, restore and conciliate than simply go viral.
For those of us who have been given the sacred assignment to pastor people, our vocation requires us to talk about difficult issues with broken people and presumably, permission has been granted for us to speak candidly. That permission is based on trust that has been earned, not given.
Trust is bestowed because we are considered worthy of trust. Our integrity has been measured, scrutinized and witnessed. We are trustworthy. People give us access to vulnerable spaces in their lives which means they are taking a great risk and a lot is at stake.
Trust is earned in deliberate drops and lost in downpours, so we should not take any of it for granted and guard our reputations as sacred. What we say, how we say it, and when we say it matters. Silence is sometimes the voice of wisdom.