These are my application notes from a sermon at our local church. The pastor’s text was 1 Samuel 16:1-23. While there is only one interpretation to any passage of Scripture, there can be many applications of a passage. In fact, there can be as many applications as there are people who hear the sermon. This is how I applied it.
Key Idea: The quiet husband, father, or friend cannot be like Christ. Leadership is largely verbal. God leads us with His Words. If you want to lead those you love well, then you must start talking.
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The silent husband is not a neutral husband. Silence may be quiet, but it is not silent because silence is always interpreted. Just because he is not saying what he is thinking on the inside, it does not mean others are refraining from supplying an interpretation to his silence.
The person who chooses not to communicate entices others to fill in the blanks, to clear up the mystery that silence propagates. The silent partner abdicates the privilege to explain himself while forcing others to speculate on what his silence means.
Silence is not neutral. Silence will be uploaded with an interpretation, which is nearly always wrong. The interpreter can only supply answers based on their understanding of the problem, and if their speculation is faulty, then their conclusions will be faulty.
The healthiest relationships are talking relationships. Ongoing mature communication in any relationship is the key that will stabilize the relationship. This is why we have God’s Word.
A Talking God
The Lord does not want us to ignorantly speculate on who He is and what He is up to in our lives. He has given us His Word to clear the mystery that exists between us (Deuteronomy 29:29). God is a speaking God. He is a communicating God.
The strength of any relationship rests in the quality of the communication within the relationship. The Father bathes us in His Word (Ephesians 5:26) because He knows it’s only by His Word that we can be clean (John 17:17).
Praise God that He is a talking God. All good leaders are verbal because it is impossible to lead well while choosing silence as a main plank in your leadership platform.
A Quiet Dad
Marla lived with a quiet dad. He was a reserved, passive, and non-communicative guy. He would say that being quiet is who he is. Whenever he was challenged to talk more he would quickly drop the God card on the table:
God made me this way.
There was no question that he was a quiet person, but he was not connecting the gospel dots: Christ came to change us from how we are so we can be progressively changed into someone else (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Jesus came to save us from ourselves. He came to change us (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is intellectually dishonest to say “this is who I am” while not cooperating with the Lord to become something better than just as I am.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
It is on us to cooperate with the Lord to change us from who we are so we can more effectively imitate God (Ephesians 5:1). God came to give the quiet guy words to say. He came to transform our tongues into redemptive tools for the building up of others (Ephesians. 4:29).
With [our tongues] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. – James 3:9-10
This does not mean the quiet guy should become a talking head. Quiet Carl should not become chatty Cathy, but quiet Carl should be willing to take his soul to task to see how he can be transformed into a gospel-centered communicator.
A Shy Boy
The gospel is like a multi-faceted diamond where every turn of the diamond reveals a previously undisclosed facet that impresses and motivates us all over again. And Christians love to “turn the diamond” of the gospel because we love to be impressed and motivated all over again.
One of the most beautiful facets of the gospel is communication: God is a talking God. He leads us with His words. Thus, we have to choose whether we want to live like Adam-people or Christ-people. Adam hid behind his fig leaves of shame. Adam was a fearful person. He was a withdrawing person. He was a retreating person (Genesis 3:6-12).
It is native for us to be like Adam, which means some of us will retreat behind walls of silence. The first twenty-five years of my life I hardly said a word. My brother said that my silence was one of the things he hated the most about me. I rarely talked.
I suppose if I wanted to make excuses for my silence I would say that,
- I can be lazy.
- I am wired not to talk.
- My dad beat me down through verbal and physical abuse.
- Hiding behind quietness was safer than “putting myself out there” only to be abused. Again.
- Television became a safe place where I could retreat.
- I trained myself to talk inside my head. Reflection, introspection, and analysis became a strength.
- I learned not to trust people, thus I distanced myself from people.
- I never learned how to talk, thus I’m kinda prickly in social settings.
- The end result was that being quiet was easy, preferable, and safe.
- Not knowing Christ, I could only act Adamic.
Then I became an adult, which required me to live in engage an adult world. I was full of fear of man and social ineptness. Let’s just say that living inside my head while living in the world caused relational problems.
Early in our marriage, I appealed to Lucia to be in charge of our social calendar. I told her that if I was in charge of our social calendar, then we would never go anywhere or do anything.
Being a homebody is safe for me. Not talking to others is preferable. Anything that can keep me from community engagement would be my first call to action.
But that is not the gospel.
A Gospelized Tongue
- God is a speaking God.
- God is an engaging God.
- God is an intentional God.
- God is a penetrating God.
Gospel people cannot hide behind the excuse of quietness while the gospel demands we live well in community. I regularly see the irony in what I do for a living. I provide for my family through communication. Talking is my life.
Some people have said that it appears to be an easy thing for me to communicate. I always smile on the inside after I hear this. They have no idea what they are talking about. It takes a lot of preaching the gospel to myself each day to stay focused on my need to talk. To daily do this is a favor from the Lord.
If I had my way, I would say very little. I’m quite comfortable at being quiet. I enjoy living inside my head. As an Adam person, I do not feel the need to be where people are. I do not feel compelled to always have to say something. As a Christ person, I cannot keep myself from talking.
Typically my best friends are talkers, though that is not necessarily a good thing. I’m comfortable with being quiet and they are comfortable with talking. In a way, we feed each others’ idolatry. They have to keep on learning to be quiet and I have to keep on learning to talk.
Call to Action
This article is for the quiet person, not the talking person. If you are a quiet person then I challenge you to learn how to talk. I appeal to you to be like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). You must step out from behind the fig leaves of fear, while stepping in the power of the Spirit, and start talking.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. – Galatians 5:16-17
If you are a quiet husband, your wife needs your redemptive speech. If you are a quiet dad, then you must not leave your silence open for your child’s misinterpretation. If you do, you both will lose. You will lose your child and your child will look for someone who is willing to talk to them.
- How are you doing with your words?
- How is the gospel transforming your speech patterns?
- How motivated are you to leave your comfort zone, while entering the life of another person?
- Does your speech generally build up others or tear them down?
Jesus lived in the community of the Trinity, but He chose to set aside what He had so He could enter into our world (Philippians 2:5-11), become like us (John 1:14), with the hope that we would be saved from ourselves (Hebrews 2:14-15).