Timing is everything. How many times have I heard that? How many times have I heeded that? Hmmm. Those two answers are not the same. Sometimes I speak up when I need to keep silent.
When Steven was about seven years old we went snow skiing. For hours I instructed him how to stand up, ski down, and get up once he fell. In his frustration, Steven fell down and fell down and fell down. He was not getting the hang of it at all. What’s the problem, I wondered? Then I found out. It was me.
“Mom,” Steven cried, “if you just quit telling me what to do, I think I could get it.”
“Fine!” I said. “Go ahead and do it your way!”
And you know what? He did. Thirty minutes later Steven was cruising down the slopes with ease. My continued instruction had been a hindrance to Steven working out the maneuvers on his own.
Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones we withhold. Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to be silent and a time to speak.”
In the Bible, Esther is a wonderful example of a wise woman who knew that timing was crucial. Under the influence of the evil Haman, King Xerxes issued a decree that the Hebrew people be destroyed. However, the king didn’t know that Queen Esther was one of them.
After much prayer, fasting, and deliberation, Esther went before the king to make a petition. It was an important request because the entire Hebrew nation was at stake. When the King asked her to make her request, she didn’t grovel at his feet and beg for her people to be spared. Rather she calmly invited him to dinner. The timing wasn’t right.
When the king attended the soiree the following evening, she didn’t grovel at his feet and beg for her people to be spared. Once again, she invited him to dinner the following evening. The timing still wasn’t right.
At the second dinner party, the king offered Esther yet a third opportunity to make her request. Finally, Esther revealed evil Haman’s plot to annihilate the entire Hebrew nation, which included her life as well. The Hebrews were saved, and Haman was hanged.
Here’s a lesson in the drama. Esther had a very important request for the king, and she waited until the time was right. Sure, she could have made the request the first time she approached the king and he extended the golden scepter in approval. She could have offered her petition at the first dinner party when he offered her anything she desired, “up to half the kingdom.” But there was something in Esther’s spirit that caused her to wait.
Even though the Bible doesn’t tell us directly, I believe Esther was listening to God. Because of her obedience, the entire Hebrew nation was saved. That is the power of a woman’s words offered at the right time.
Some of the most poignant moments of Jesus’ arrest were the silent ones. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). And for you and me, some of our most powerful moments will be the ones in which we remain silent. Some of the most powerful words are the ones that are withheld. Click & Tweet!
Leave a comment and share one time you kept quiet and were so glad you did.
Heavenly Father, help me know when to speak up and when to keep silent. Help me say the right words at the right time to the right people. And if my words do not fit that filter, then give me the self-control to keep quiet. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
My best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others now has a new look, new content, and a new chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated!
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