Jump Start # 2066
Proverbs 15:28 “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
Pondering—thinking things out and thinking things through. Thoughtful. Careful. Planned. Calculated. Not just saying whatever comes to mind. Not winging things. That’s the idea behind this verse. It’s been on my mind because I have an important discussion coming up with someone. It’s not a moral issue. It’s not even a spiritual issue. It’s about life and it will be difficult. I fall asleep every night thinking about how to approach what needs to be said. I rehearse conversations and anticipate what reactions will be. I’m pondering. I don’t have a good feeling about this.
This is what ought to go through our minds prior to having important and valuable discussions with others. You go in with a plan. You think things out. You anticipate how you feel the other person will receive your words. You pray. You apply that Golden Rule. You sprinkle love all over your words. Careful. Kind. Calculated. Pondered. That is the key to having difficult discussions.
Here is why this is so important.
To be a parent, you must parent. Free range chickens may work on the farm, but that’s no way to raise kids. They will test you, try you and wear you out. They will say things and make choices that are not thought out. They don’t see what you see. They do not think about consequences, tomorrow or how these things will impact the rest of the family. They often do not see the connection between what they are doing and the spiritual side of life. So, your teenager is dating someone who you see has all kinds of red flags. It’s time for a discussion. It won’t be easy. Ponder first. Your college student wants to quit college. However, he doesn’t have any other plans other than playing video games and forming a band. Time for a discussion. Ponder first. Your teen wants permission to get a tattoo. Time for a discussion. Ponder first.
Too often, we leave the pondering part off. Our child says something, are we are ready to push the buttons and fire the rockets in response. Instead of a discussion, it becomes a shouting match. Instead of reason, it’s a Mexican standoff, and a battle of the wills. In those moments, the teen walks away angry because you do not understand and you walk away angry because you wonder how he could be such an idiot. The issue at hand simmers but it’s never settled. At the next major battle, this one will surface again. Ponder.
To be spiritually connected within a congregation means we have to help one another. The Galatians were told, ‘You who are spiritual restore such a one.’ In James, we are to confess our faults to one another. In Jude, we are to snatch some from the fire. This means as we care for each other, there will be moments in which we have to have discussions with one another. You may see someone beginning to slip. It’s time for a discussion. Someone seeks your advice. Discussion time. And, in this, it is important to ponder what to say. Even when asked a question, think it out. We are reminded to be slow to speak and quick to hear. How will my answer be received? Is it spoken in love? Am I threatening? Is this how I would want someone to talk to me? Ponder. The point of helping someone is to help them. You don’t want to destroy them.
Leaders among God’s people must especially excel in this pondering business. They are constantly meeting and having discussions. They are seeing people on all levels of this spiritual journey. They are meeting with some who will soon be disciplined. They are meeting with some who are discouraged. They are meeting with some who are angry. They are meeting with some who have been hurt. They are meeting with some who are young in faith and they don’t understand. Pondering. It’s never a “one size-fits all” formula. Each person brings their own past, issues and difficulties. Each must be handled with care and love. Ponder.
To share the Gospel of Christ, you must reach out and have discussions with others. There is that person in the family. There is that co-worker. You see them. You know them. You care about them. So, you want to invite them. You want to answer their questions. You want to engage them in a discussion about the Bible. Ponder first. Don’t jump in and see what will happen. Usually, that approach is disastrous. Think about where the person is spiritually. Ponder what would touch their heart and make them think. You must begin where they are. Inviting someone to church services may not be the first nor the best thing to do for some. Opening the Bible may not be the first nor the best thing to do for some. Do they even believe in God? Do they believe that the Bible is God’s word? Have they had a bad experience with religion? Have they been told that they are going to Hell? Ponder. Give thought. Be careful. Calculate. Think things out. You may want to get advice from someone who has done this before. You may want to find some material that would be helpful. But in all of this, you are giving thought, praying and coming in with a plan.
When we don’t ponder, we tend to get ourselves into trouble with our mouths. We say things that we shouldn’t. We talk too much. We overwhelm a person with too much information. And, much too often, we make things worse because of what we failed to think out. Open doors can close quickly if one isn’t careful with what they say. Hurt feelings can become worse if one isn’t careful with what they say. That teen may close his ears from now on to everything you say because one isn’t careful with what they say.
So, you go to sleep each night, thinking about the discussion. You put yourself in their shoes. You think about how they will react. You pray. You think. You plan. You ponder. I have found that often the discussion turns out much better than I figured. I also have found, pondering helps temper your words and you don’t feel caught off guard because you have thought things through.
Looking at examples in the Bible, especially Jesus, always helps us to see the right way to do things.
Ponder. The more we ponder, the less we put our feet in our mouths. The more we ponder, the less we have to apologize for saying things that shouldn’t have been said. The more we ponder, the better things will be.