Taming the Tongue: Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery

Today’s guest post is by Jennifer Slattery. I had the privilege to meet Jen at the WFTS conference this past February.

Before we get to it, I’d like to link to a book review I did by Rene Gutteridge, Listen. It’s a great story about taming the tongue and how our words build up and tear down. Click Here to read it.

Welcome, Jennifer!

Have you ever noticed how readily we cling to the negative, no matter how irrational it is? Things spoken to me during my elementary years have stuck with me throughout countless successes and accolades, tearing at the walls of my heart. Think of your own life and those evasive lies you’ve allowed to wiggle their way in.

Countless people can tell you again and again how smart, or pretty, or resourceful you are, and yet you’ll cling to that one statement hurled in the heat of the moment to the contrary. Which is why it’s so important to guard our words, because once spoken, they penetrate deep and can never be returned.

I’ve always struggled with my tongue. Mainly because I’m impulsive. Often, I speak the first thing that comes to mind without taking the time to sift my words through my listener’s ears. And yet, those much needed words, like, “Good job,” and “Thank you,” seem to linger in my throat like rubber cement. The other day after reading one of my articles, my husband told me how much he enjoyed it. (It was largely about him and the effect his behaviors have had on our daughter.) When I asked him why, he said, “It’s good to know that maybe I’m doing something right.” His response surprised me.

He does so many awesome things and is such a great family leader. Couldn’t he tell we adored and admired him? And yet, at the same time, I understood the insecurities and fears beneath his response. We all have inner demons, fears of failure, insecurities. We all need to hear an “atta-boy” once in a while. More often than not, actually. I’ve heard that it takes about five positive comments to counter one negative. Now, think of all the negative comments your spouse might hear in a given day, then multiply that by five. Kind of tips the scales a bit, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I forget how fragile the human heart is. Thought processes influence our self-concept and words spoken influence thought processes. According to social scientists Dr. Gangel and Dr. Canine, our self-concept is created, developed, and maintained through communication and interaction with others. (Dr. Gangel, Dr. Canine. 1992) Marriage is a life-time of close, consistent interaction—interaction that has the power to build up or tear down.

Ephesians 4:29 urges us: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only that which is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.”

How many words would be left unspoken if I truly lived this verse out? How many wounds avoided? 

Dr. Gangel, Dr. Canine. Communication and Conflict Management. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers; 1992. p. 66

Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the world Ministries, the Christian Pulse, Samie Sisters, and is the marketing manager for the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She’s placed in numerous contests and has written for numerous publications, E-zines and websites. Visit her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud to find out more about her and her writing.

Question: How hard do you find it to tame your tongue?

18 thoughts on “Taming the Tongue: Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery

  1. Not too hard unless I get super mad or excited, then I tend to start babbling and often regret what I say. Eeek! Commenting is so much better than conversating in real life. LOL Love my delete key!

  2. Great post. I love Jennifer Slattery. She's a wonderful woman of God – just like you, Jessica. 🙂

  3. In a fit of frustration or anger I fail at this horribly. Interestingly enough, the heroine in the book I'm editing now has this very issue ALL the time!

  4. What a wondeful post. It's amazing to me how easy it is many to jump to point out the negative, the problems in life, but it pains us to say the encouraging words. This isn't always the case, but we obviously need reminding or there wouldn't be so many bible verses pointing it out. 🙂

    Loved this!

  5. Oh, what a great guest post. Seriously, just this morning I was thinking over a pretty negative conversation I participated in yesterday and feeling convicted…and the conviction continues! 🙂 I mean that in a good, "I needed this" way. And…I also had to laugh because my mom used to make us kids repeat Ephesians 4:29 whenever we'd get in arguments!

  6. Words can lift up, or bring down…

    It's still hard, but the older I get the more I understand when to keep my mouth shut. I do fail from time to time. Anger is the tough one.

    Great post.

  7. Jessica, you are so right! How about we stick with emails? lol.

    Julie, you are so incredibly sweet and encouraging! Thank you for the kind words!

    Eileen, I totally understand. I often wish I had way more patience and self-control. But, I am reminded of Romans 6 which promises me that I can overcome my sinful, selfish nature, thanks to Christ's work on the cross. That encourages me to keep drawing near and doing the best I can to follow the example Christ set, who while He was being led like a sheep to the slaughters, opened not His mouth.

    Amen, Heather! Don't you love how God always knows exactly what we need–like 2,000 years before we need it. lol

    Too funny, Melissa! And what a smart mom! It's so important that we train our children using biblical conversation. After all, we don't want them to follow rules for rules sake, but ultimately, we want them to embrace and follow God's Word. Quoting Scripture takes it from an issue between you and your kids and places their rebellion or misbehavior where it belongs–as an issue between them and God.

    Loree, great reminder! When in doubt, may we all zip it!

    Thanks, Jessica, for having me on your awesome blog! Truly an honor!

  8. Great post! I'm constantly worrying after conversations about what I said or didn't say. Not sure yet if the problem is thinking more before speaking or letting go of the worry. 🙂 Loved the reminder to make sure we tell the people we're close to us how much we love and appreciate them!

  9. Wonderful post, Jennifer. You can always get right to the point, which we all need. Thanks for the heavenly reminder to tame the tongue.

  10. Outstanding post! Thanks for allowing us to get to know Jennifer better. The tongue is a hard rascal to tame, indeed. Great words of wisdom. Blessings!

  11. Stacy, I totally understand! Yesterday my daughter and I had a conversation regarding "mislips" on the way home from her tennis practice. She said something she found out later to be false, and felt like she'd lied. When those moments happen, I always tell her if she's worried to confess to God, then let it go. 🙂 That's what I love about grace. God's love always stirs us to do better, but His grace covers our sins and allows us to start fresh each moment.

    Elaine, thank you! And it's a much needed reminder to me!

    Thanks for the encouragement, Donna!

  12. Thanks, Jennifer, nice article/post! And thanks for hosting, Jessica. 🙂 It's so true…things we say impulsively or when we're tired or cranky can have long-lasting effects. Our spouse or children remember them, little barbs in their minds that really hurt. GREAT to focus on the positives of someone!! Eph 4:29 is a great verse to summarize this.

  13. Fantastic post! Taming the tongue is hard work. Lashing out to defend ourselves comes so easily. Allowing the Spirit to control our tongue takes conscious effort.

    Thanks for the reminder that it takes 5 positive statements to cancel out one negative remark. Indeed our words have a far-reaching, long-lasting effect. Thanks for using these words to bless!

  14. Wonderful post and a great reminder about taming my tongue. We seriously just had a big talk about this with one of our daughters the other night: That even though she could say sorry, she couldn't take back hurtful words she had said.
    Thanks again!

  15. Enjoyed this post. I've forgotten a lot of things from my childhood, but the negative experiences stay with me. That's something we're working with on my five-year-old, teaching her to think about what she's saying and think of others feelings.

  16. Very important topic for us all to be careful of, but especially to teach our children. I'd heard the illustration of driving a nail into a board. Even if you pull out the nail, you leave behind a hole. But my favorite illustration for the kids was this:

    Give them a paper plate and a mini tube of toothpaste. Have them squeeze it out onto the paper plate and just have fun with it. Then after they've squeezed most or all of it out, put a $20 bill (or higher!) out on the table and tell them, "The first one to get all their toothpaste back in the tube gets to keep the $20."

    Obviously, they can't do it. Once the paste is out, there's no getting it back. Just like our words. Once they are spoken, they are out there and we can't take them back.

  17. Thanks everyone! How awesome, ladies, that you're actively teaching your children this truth! Michelle, wonderful illustration!

  18. Thanks, everyone, for coming by. Jennifer, thanks so much for guesting!

    Taming the tongue is tough for sure! Great comments and I like the toothpaste object lesson. I may have to try that one!


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