READ Nehemiah 2:2-10
“It’s not what you said, it’s the way you said it!” Funny but true! The success of a conversation doesn’t just depend on the content, but also the language and tone. In today’s passage Nehemiah gives us some great tips for using words wisely.
- Think before you speak.
Having heard the news about the state of the walls back home, Nehemiah is crushed. But while he is visibly upset, he doesn’t allow emotion to take the driving seat of the conversation. Instead he hands wisdom the wheel. When the king asks what is wrong, rather than verbally exploding Nehemiah pauses and structures his thoughts. After all, he is about to ask the King to be kind to his enemies. Handled poorly it could lead to a death sentence!
Pausing for thought and asking God for wisdom before we respond is a great tip!
- Check your motivation.
Nehemiah’s response to the king’s question seems odd, “May the King live for ever.” This wasn’t flattery to soften the blow; God doesn’t ever bless flattery. No, Nehemiah genuinely cared about the King, so that is where he started.
Before we have a conversation with someone it is a great tip to check the motivation of our hearts. Do we have the other person’s best interests at heart or are we speaking from self-interest?
- Choose your words wisely
Then Nehemiah makes his case. He says, “Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins.” It’s important we don’t miss the wisdom here. Nehemiah could have said that in a million different ways but he carefully chose words the King could understand. The burial place of forefathers was of paramount importance in the kingdom of Persia, so Nehemiah communicated in a way that made sense to the listener.
Choosing our words wisely matters! We need to communicate in a way the person listening can both understand and accept otherwise it will just cause further conflict.
Nehemiah gives us a lesson on disciplining our language, a lesson that could change the course of our lives if only we heeded it.
Lord, help me to be disciplined in my conversations, giving wisdom not emotion the wheel. Amen.