I am not especially fond of talking. I know that is probably hard for people to believe who hear me ramble for 45 minutes every Sunday. I speak because God requires it of me. When in a group, smaller or larger, I would just a soon someone else do the talking. It is not important to me to be the one doing the dialogue. Even when I am at home, it is no problem for me to not be real verbal.
That being said, I make a living talking. People expect me to have something to say. In fact, they tend to get a little nervous when I don’t say much. Lots of times in my life, I have heard comments like, “You sure are quiet, something wrong?” or “what are you thinking? You must have something to add to the conversation”. Truth be told, I would rather just be quiet sometimes.
That is not typical of a preacher in our culture. Lots of loud talking, that is pretty much what we are known for. I guess I am lacking some of the natural gifts that preachers are expected to posses, and I am OK with that. In fact, one of the more annoying tendencies of many preachers I know is the need to be the center of attention. I am not being critical of these guys, it seems to work for them. But I don’t need a microphone to be happy.
Someone said (James in the Bible), “Be quick to listen and slow to speak…” One of the leaders I respect most is Moses. This poor guy got stuck leading a bunch of rebellious, complaining people for 40 years through a nasty desert. And he got blamed for everything. They wanted to kill him. Talk about a tough gig! He maintained his integrity through it and had the honor of “speaking face to face with God as a man does with his friend”. But the thing is, he was a reluctant talker. He spoke when necessary but he was glad when his larger-mouthed brother did the speaking. And God seemed to be fine with the arrangement, in fact, the whole thing was His idea.
The next time you hear a leader waxing eloquent, enjoy it. When she or he drones on and on about what they think, appear interested. But if there is a leader who prefers to be the silent type, cut them some slack. Maybe they know what the infamous Run DMC said in the 1985 old-school rap: “You Talk Too Much! (You never shut up!)” They may just be tired of talking. They may have nothing to say at that particular moment. And they may be exercising some real wisdom. I think it was Abe Lincoln who said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and appear as a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”.
I think I’ll go on a mission to reduce my spoken words and see what happens. Besides, nobody likes a bigmouth!