We have all seen it happen. A conversation where someone says something and before the comment is out of their mouth, you can see regret all over their face. We understand because it most certainly has happened to us! We don’t stop to think about what we say before opening our mouths or typing out a response.
It happens on social media too. People feel strongly about something and type a passionate comment, hit send, and immediately feel regret. If only we could slow down and think before responding! James 1:19 reminds us to “be quick to listen, slow to become angry and slow to speak.” We need to train ourselves to consider 5 important things and T.H.I.N.K. before we communicate. If we ask ourselves these 5 questions we are far less likely to experience regret.
T – Is it True?
Are you about to express an opinion or something that is true? Is this second hand information? Are you discussing something that directly affects the listener or are you discussing someone else’s business? Philippians 4:8 gives us wise direction on where our thoughts should focus. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Our words will follow our thoughts. If we bring our thoughts into alignment in this way, we can be much more confident that our words will be too.
H – Is it Helpful?
Ephesians 4:29 tells us that we should only say “what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs.” I catch myself at times using humor to fill silence or even using it to try to make an awkward situation more comfortable. However, at times that humor can turn to sarcasm or be at someone else’s expense. That is NOT helpful! I also want people to value my words when I speak. If I am known for sharing useful information when I do speak, then people will be willing to listen.
I – Is it Inspiring?
A wise friend used to tell me that there are two things you can’t get back in life, time and words. I want my words to have purpose and make a difference in the lives of those around me. Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” I can intentionally choose to use life-giving words.
N – Is it Necessary?
Sometimes we may want to say something that we feel is significant, but we need to weigh out the consequences of the effect it will have on the listener. Will it build them up? Will it strengthen the relationship? Perhaps you may need to pray about it for a bit before sharing it. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” You are wise to approach difficult conversations with kindness and compassion, if you decide the conversation is necessary.
K – Is it Kind?
Proverbs 16:24 says “Kind words are like honey–sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” We can all think of a person whose life is marked by kindness. We like being around them because of the impact their words have on us. Proverbs 11:17 tells us “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.” Being kind with our words is a choice. It requires self-control and it might mean choosing at times to not say anything, but the impact of kind words is long-lasting.
So in your interactions both in person and on social media this week, take some time to remember these 5 questions and T.H.I.N.K. before responding. Taking that extra 30 seconds can have a positive impact on your relationships and your reputation and spare you future regret.
Which of the five T.H.I.N.K. questions do you find most challenging?