A Time to Speak Up and a Time to Keep It Zipped

Sharon JaynesMotherhood, Power of Words, Relationships 42 Comments

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.

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!

Also, for the bold and the brave, click here to sign up for my 5-Day Taming the Tongue challenge.


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Comments 42

  1. Very beautiful article. I am praying to God in this area to give me wisdom to say the right things at the right time and to keep my mouth shut and not get angry and say bad things. I am hurt but I I want to move away from the past and don’t want to speak out nasty words. Please pray for me.

    1. Sheree, I am going through this too. May we agree that we can heal through remaining silent, and waiting on the right timing. I am seeking strength to not have to defend myself verbally with the anger and evil used against me. By using the past hurts and nasty words from the anger and resentment of the past it just slows the healing down and stops the joy from bubbling up. May peace overcome you.

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  2. This email came at the perfect time. I appreciate your emails and I especially appreciate your book I’m reading right now, Building an effective women’s ministry. I have so much to learn from you and I thank God for your wisdom. Xoxo Crystal

  3. A few months ago, I believe that I was being led by the evil one to confront my husband “once and for all” about his refusal to share my Christianity. I spent several days going over the argument that would surely ensue, in my head. But, thankfully,I paid attention to a number of devotions that week which convinced me to wait on God and also the advice of a Christian friend. I didn’t go through with the confrontation and nothing really has changed in my husband’s life sine then, but my faith and trust in God has improved and given me peace as I wait with “patient endurance” on the Lord.

    1. I feel your frustration. I too, am praying for my husband to live out the faith he professes. I’ve never seen him embrace God’s word. Nor does he show respect for my quiet time. Praying that we’ll both be able to “wait” on the Holy Spirit to do a mighty work in all the spouses that aren’t walking with Him.

  4. I am so glad I was silent during my last meeting at my job. I was told that my job was over and my mouth was open and I was breathing in in order to speak when I heard, “I’m moving you.” I closed my mouth and let my boss uncomfortably finish the meeting. I went home. I finished my last 7 weeks and never said whatever was going to come out before my mouth was shut. I am truly thankful. The situation was sad enough without my unchecked words making it worse.

  5. During this transition period in my life, I am CONTINUALLY being provided with opportunities to keep quiet.

    So. Many. Opportunities.

    But, God is doing a work in me and teaching me to keep quiet to comments made. Letting comments go was not a strong suit of mine. But, with God all things ARE possible!

    Thank you for that reminder Sharon!

  6. This piece has spoken to my soul. I needed to receive your words into my spirit. I thank God for your timely words.

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  7. After a year and a half together, my boyfriend stopped speaking to me. I mentioned a concern, and he stopped all communication without warning. He texted me once to say he missed me, but offered no explanations. I responded that I was hurt and what he did was cruel. No response. I am sad and part of me is ANGRY. We endured a lot in that time. And part of me wants to go over and demand an explanation, but something stops me. I believe God shielded me by blocking him out And keeping my mouth shut is what God wants. I may never understand, and demanding answers to this is, in my heart, the wrong conversation.

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  8. Sharon, sometimes your devotionals reach me and they are right on-point. Today is one of those times. Thank you – I needed to read this and I needed that prayer – for today and every day. While I usually try to think before I speak I don’t. When our daughter and boyfriend came over for our “Christmas” dinner on Jan. 6th, we told her about her cousin’s wedding, how there was no mention of God in the ceremony. She exclaimed “we won’t have mention of God either.” Her boyfriend interjected how they don’t really believe in God and our daughter remained silent. I bit my tongue. Over the last four years, since they have been living together, we have rarely seen them at our house, yet they see his parents often. I wanted to say to her: “How can he say “we”? You believe in God!” I believe God was telling me to zip it. When I spoke with my pastor, he said it was just as well I kept silent. He said that her boyfriend would’ve probably told her “You see? That’s why I don’t like coming over to see your parents.” Unfortunately, he wasn’t raised with any faith and our daughter was.

  9. This is so very true. Very hard to do, but is so very important. My husband and I have been married almost 40 years. We were married less than 6 months after our 1st date. We had a very rocky start. We barely knew each other when we got married. We were 2 totally different people. We loved each other very deeply. I was a very submissive wife and would do anything to keep my husband. I would not argue with my husband because then I would be just like him and I did not want that. At the same time, I was afraid if I kept quiet, that my husband would always think he was right when he was not. I prayed daily for God to help my husband see the error in his ways. I would wait until the moment was right to talk with my husband very gently and lovingly let him know how his behavior made me feel. I believe because I did not respond in an angry way, he listened and accepted what I said. My husband treats me like a queen now. He always thinks of me first and does so much for me. Because I stayed out of the way, God did a mighty thing in my husbands heart. I will be forever grateful for the patience God gave me so He could do His work.

    1. Thank you Mary! I needed to hear this today… we too married a to the day of our first date and some days are so hard. I’ll leave it to God and keep quiet. And believe it will somehow get better. That I’ll do better and be better 😇

  10. I can tell you a time I didn’t keep quiet and wish I would have. I have paid the last three years with not being able to see my granddaughter because I didn’t keep quiet. I would ask for any and all prayers for God to bring about reconciliation between my daughters and me. Thank you.

  11. Oh my lord..this is me..my tongue.. I try and help or fix or explain or teach when I should just be quiet…I need to learn this!!!

  12. My husband passed away in January from. Cancer. We didn’t have no Insurance. His family not hurting for things. I kept quiet. Was going to take my house payment and pay the rest of his furmal. We had already paid for cremation. But his sister talk to his daddy and call me and said they took care of it.First time they ever done anything for us. But I am obedient to God and kept quiet and hand it to him.He put the burden on their heart’s to help me.Since then they don’t come around or hear from them. But I pray for them. I am having it hard financial but I am giving that to God.Thank God for answering prayers and love he gives me. It’s lonely but I got God and he giving me the strength. God Bless you and your minstry

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  13. Thanks Sharon! That is a lot to think about. I so appreciate your honesty. I feel I have been honest with my kids and it has come back at me. Very frustrating. Love Ester!

  14. I have learned that so many times when I am frustrated I want to say what I think. I am now 60 years old and have realized that words should be held back until you have time to relax and be sure they really even need to be said. You can never take back words that hurt but God can always forgive you for thoughts that you shouldn’t have even had in anger or frustration. He will always listen and your loved ones don’t have to remember that word you should have kept quiet with.

  15. I always find your devotionals so touching. It amazes me how God answers our prayers and always fulfills my petitions for His guidance and resources. I have a son who is in the throws of mental challenges and substance abuse. With God’s help, I aided in getting him into a psychiatric hospital recently and he was given an opportunity to turn his life around. Unfortunately, he retreated back to substance abuse. It is heartbreaking because he has been doing so well. This is not the first time we have gone through this. However, for several years now he has been attending church regularly, holding down a wonderful job, living on an island in an apartment just down the street from work, and the list goes on. It is so hard dealing with this situation, especially when I recently learned that substance abuse, not just a mental disorder, is a major part of the problem. I have been enabling him without realizing it. Through prayer petitions for resources to enlighten me on how to handle this situation, I have learned that I need to give this to God and to stop doing everything possible to try to protect my son. He has been reaching out and I normally respond promptly, send money for food, buy groceries, etc. This morning has been especially difficult since I have already received early morning calls and texts from him. It is gut wrenching not to respond promptly and to say no to him. I decided to sit down and pray and read my devotional prior to making a decision on how to respond. Today’s message is perfect and is, in my opinion, confirmation that less can be more and that silence can be more effective than all of the advice that I have been trying to give. Thanks be to God!

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this word in season(even though I would have loved to read it just a few minutes earlier…this tongue of mine)
    God bless you Sharon.I pray you and your family remain safe in His grace.

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  17. I have a very sharp quick tongue and a temper to add to it. Not good….I’ve had to really pray and understand that I’m to meditate on the good of the LORD and how gentle and loving HE is with HIS words even in our correction. My words when my eldest were death and it did determine his direction. Good thing I knew once I learned that I could also speak as a mom to reverse the harshness of what those words caused and the LORD could soften those ignorant blows of my sharp piercing words. Now my son and I have a great relationship thanks to my son’s gracious heart. Today I’m so not the same and I continue to work at it in HIS name. Praise GOD for grace and forgiveness and what HE can do to restore and undo what we have done. Thank you for this book and I was very glad to be on your launch team it was indeed a privilege.

  18. Sharon and my sweet sister that is reading my comment. I didn’t read the article I skimmed through it (smh I know), but I can say I must learn when to speak and be careful of what it is I allow to come out my mouth cause once those words are out my mouth I cannot grab them and shove them back in my 👄. I don’t want to hurt others with my sharp words because I know the tongue is sharp like a 2 edge sword.

  19. My dad loves teasing people. Sometimes when he makes fun of me for something I’ve said or done, I jokingly reply: “wow, you just missed an amazing opportunity to keep your mouth shut!”
    This devotion is a good reminder that there truly are amazing opportunities to keep our mouths shut, and that we would do well to remember that.

    One time at work I thought a colleague really mistreated me. I got very angry but decided not to bring it up until I had cooled down, so I didn’t say anything that day. The next day it turned out it was just a misunderstanding with no malicious intent. I was so glad I hadn’t spoken in anger!

  20. So many times I get frustrated and try to “fix” my husband! I’ll start by suggesting he do this or that., then as he delays I’ll ask again and later after more time has passed it will turn into an argument leaving is both in a bad mood.

    I have learned however that I must be SILENT and petition my Heavenly Father to correct whichever one of us is wrong, or I pray and ask Him to reveal to my husband his wrong thoughts or words. Oh how faithful my God is to correct and direct! The Power of a Woman’s Words is not a joke, as scripture declares life and death (joy vs sadness, fruitfulness vs fruitless ness, etc) are indeed in the power of the tongue!

    Praise YHVH from whom all blessing flow for teaching me to silently wait on and trust in Him!!!!

  21. Our oldest son had entered into a relationship with the end goal of marriage. We saw so many red flags and at first brought our concerns. Over time, he slowly slipped away from the Lord and ventured into sinful behaviors. We wanted to talk to him especially as he mentioned desiring to marry this woman. But GOD insisted that we remain quiet and wait on Him. We fervently prayed and asked our prayer warriors to help us intercede. Eventually, praise Jesus! The relationship ended. Our prayers were answered as his eyes opened to truth. That was a few years ago, and he just mentioned a serious interest in another girl. I’m praying for him to have godly wisdom, discernment, and to remain Christ and not wander again.

  22. I have learned to keep quiet when my grandchildren don’t act the way I think they should. I allow my daughter to handle their problems. Of course I learned this the hard way, once speaking up and having my daughter tell me not to interfere so now I keep silent and let her handle her children. Life has gotten better.

  23. Unfortunately I cannot think of many examples of when I held my tongue. But I am so thankful for this blog because with God’s help I will do better!

  24. I have a daughter who has chosen a very difficult path but she is 46. It is not my place to direct her, but unfortunately I have tried. Didn’t work.
    God told me that silence is love/God actively fighting. He want s me to get out of his way and quit doing the enemies work.
    My mother used to say “Nothing said is also something said.”

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