The Wisdom of Silence

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

Some of you guys might be wondering, “Chad, where have you been?” It would seem I went AWOL and I apologize. I suppose I did in a way. I’ll remind you that I’m married to the Nester so….I was busy “nesterizing” our property in preparation for Nest Fest. The last two months leading up to Nest Fest, which took place a few weeks back had me working sun-up to sun-down. My wife and I knew there would need to be some major overhauling of the property in order to host the anticipated 1000 people that would attend the event, not to mention the 50 vendors. All this to say, despite my best efforts to craft a worthy newsletter, my focus was one-dimensional and I did not make time to send one out. After all is said and done, I am happy to report that Nest Fest was a HUGE success! We hosted at full capacity—1000 people! The vendors were pleased, the food trucks served delicious munchies, and the various musicians created a relaxing backdrop to the atmosphere. Due to its huge success, we’re preparing to host another Nest Fest in the Spring. A huge shout-out to some of you MANTIME gents who came out to Nest Fest to volunteer and contribute to it being a wildly successful event. Many thanks fellas!

Even though I haven’t written in the last couple of months I have been pondering quite a few things.

Over the past few weeks we’ve had plenty of opportunities to talk with our boys about the wisdom of knowing when to speak and when to be silent. It would seem this is a cut and dry topic. You know the old adage, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” But the truth of this statement becomes a bit ambiguous when emotions are stirring and the clear lines of right and wrong are blurred.

Actually, I believe this issue has more to do with self-control. One of the biggest challenges we face as parents is teaching our children to be mindful of their conduct. Maybe this is because it’s a challenge for us to keep our own conduct in check. Guarding our own words and being mindful of how our emotions contribute to our actions is convicting enough. So, when you hear the word self-control what thoughts come to mind? How would you define self-control? The Bible references self-control in both the Old and New Testaments. In Proverbs, the book of wisdom, Solomon writes that a self-controlled person is better than a mighty warrior (Proverbs 16:32). In Galatians, Paul lists self-control as one of the fruit of the Spirit (5:23). And in the book of Titus there are several references to self-control being the mark of a godly leader (1:8; 2:2,5-6,12). These are only a few of the many places within Scripture that we find self-control addressed as a mark of a mature person. As we look further at the importance of self-control we begin to discover how closely related it is to guarding our words and learning to tame our tongue. Basically, a clear sign that a person is self-controlled if they understand the importance of knowing when to speak and when to remain silent.

One thing is for sure…none of us get this right every time. Boy, can I tell you the myriad of times I’ve made poor judgment in this category. I wouldn’t begin to count the number of “shoes I’ve eaten” as a result of opening my mouth at the least opportune time. I’ve hurt myself, my family, my friends, and even those I don’t really know. In some cases it has cost me financially, in others it has cost me emotionally, in every case it cost me spiritually. One of my favorite practical passages of Scripture is found in Proverbs 17:28- “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.” Or the Mark Twain rendition, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Quite honestly, I think many of those who have come before us have much wisdom to offer us in this area. Here are a few of my quotable favorites:

Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~Will Rogers            

Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.                 ~ Benjamin Franklin            

The easiest way to save face is to keep the lower half shut             ~ Author Unknown            

The difference between a smart man and a wise man is that a smart man knows what to say, a wise man knows whether or not to say it ~ Frank M Garafola Despite the obvious wisdom of these statements, we all struggle to hold back in tenuous situations. What’s complicated the situation even more is the embedded influence that social media has on our daily life. With all it’s positive it definitely brings a lot of negative. If anything, it has made us even more acutely aware of the power of words. So how can we guard ourselves against the tempting lure of speaking before thinking? Here are few things to consider. You may have some of your own to add to this list. I’d like to hear your input.    

1. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This goes even if you know you’re right. Learning to withhold unsolicited opinion keeps our brain working harder than our mouth. Consider the timing, the company, the environment, and the backlash, if possible. As George Barzan said, “If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.”    

2. If it’s not in love (or sounds loving & gracious), then don’t say it. Once again the book of Proverbs has much to say here. It warns us that words spoken out of anger or intense emotion often lead to regrettable outcomes. It also warns us that remaining silent can keep us from sinning. The most challenging place to learn this is in our home, yet it is the place we most often fail.

3. There’s 3 sides to every story Yes, 3 sides…yours, mine, and the truth. Most of the time we don’t know the whole story. In many situations it’s impossible to know all the details. And in every situation it’s difficult to fully comprehend the thoughts and motives of the other person. That alone should cause us to take pause before speaking. Usually, the urge to hastily speak involves a situation where we want to throw our opinion in the ring. Whether it is to support, defend, rant, persuade, or pontificate, we all want to rationalize the need to do so. I’m not suggesting we never engage in respectful dialogue and debate but I try to check myself with these two criteria: 1) What is my motive? 2) Refer to #1 above..does it really need to be said 4. Don’t buy into one of the biggest lies in relationships That lie is that we can control or change another person. Since the Fall of Man the most damaging cause of healthy relationships is the thinking that someone has the ability to control another. Speaking words of fear, intimidation, or manipulation all play into that temptation. In no way does this signify love and freedom in a relationship. Believe or not, God does not want to control you and His response to you follows suit. He created us to be free. In 2 Corinthians 3:17 we are told that in the presence of the Lord there is freedom, not control. So, consider the relationships in your life. How do you engage with them in moments of disagreement or tension? Do you ask more questions than make statements? Do you feel it’s your “duty” to make sure everyone knows what you think about the matter? Would people in your life say you listen as much as you talk? Here’s some final thoughts... I’m not suggesting that we never speak up and always remain silent. I’m also not advocating a pacifist view of life, hiding in the shadows, afraid to stand for what is right, holy, and just. There are just as many passages in the Bible encouraging us to let our voice be heard. In every case, though, the Bible sets conditions--when you do speak, speak the truth in love, do it with gentleness, kindness, respect, and graciousness. I find more often the challenge is for people to remain silent than to speak up. Let’s face it, despite having 1 mouth and 2 ears, we use the former far more than the latter. Confession…I’ve struggled with this most of my life. I’m a talker…I get it. But growing older has a way of introducing wisdom in ways that require me to shut up and think before I open my mouth. I’m in total agreement with Germain G. Glien when he said, “The older I grow the more I listen to people who don’t talk much.” Maybe this is a good time to practice these principles during this polarizing season of politics. You guys are always welcome to offer input. I appreciate your insight and perspective. In that case I'm encouraging you to speak and not be silent.

KEEPING MANLINESS IN THE NEST This month’s recommendations are useful for the cooler Fall temps that are on the way. Kindling Splitter by Kindling Cracker- I don’t own one of these but have used one at a friend’s house and it is on the wish list. So simple in design yet works like a charm. Requires a little manual persuasion. The link is for Amazon purchase but you can pick one up at Northern Tool or Tractor Supply. Vintage Outdoor String Lights- Give your patio, deck, or fire pit area that professional, old school look. Heavy duty and weatherproof. Plus, you’ll impress the Mrs. with your touch of outdoor décor. The link is Amazon but if you're a Costco member they are much cheaper. Portable Handgun Safe by First Alert- If you own a handgun or pistol you understand the importance of keeping it locked and away from kids but the ability to access it at a moment’s notice. This unit is a great alternative to both those issues. There are more expensive units with more advantages but this gets good ratings and it’s a good “bang for your buck” purchase. The link is for Amazon Tac-Mag Gun Magnet- For those of you who conceal carry or your state permits a handgun in your vehicle, this tiny little contraption is awesome. I picked one up a few months ago. It mounts underneath my steering wheel about knee level. It allows for convenient access without any obvious hindrance. The link is for Amazon.

MAN-datory EDUCATION This issue’s links to enjoyable, valuable, and considerable reads Never Say No- Mark & Jan Foreman – A superb book on parenting by the parents of Jon and Tim Foreman, founders of the band Switchfoot. The Incredible Book of Useless Information: Even More Pointlessly Unnecessary Knowledge- Don Voorhees – Despite what you think, this book will either crack you up or make you stop and think, or maybe a little of both. Not a serious matter but fun and quirky. This is the perfect reader for those long sessions in the bathroom. It also is a complete series of over 10 books Rules of the Red Rubber Ball- Kevin Carroll -- A very short but inspiring book by the once Chief Brand Consultant for Nike. You can read this book in 10 minutes...and then you'll read it 100x more. A great book to give as a gift. The link is for Amazon but I also included a link to his website here

MANTIME Calendar Our purpose in planning these events is to offer men an opportunity to get together and encourage each other within the MANTIME vision (Encouraging men to reclaim the vision for their life). I understand attending every event would be challenging if not unlikely, but that’s why we’re offering several options.

*All dates are subject to change with at least a 2 week notice Sunday, November 20 * 6:30-8p * At the White Barn * $5 pp * BYOB Sunday, December 18 * 6:30-8p * At the White Barn * $5 pp * BYOB

< Special Christmas Edition>

MANTIME Bourbon Trail Experience February 23-26, 2017 ~ Lexington, KY Finally, the highly requested event is now on the calendar. Over this weekend we’ll visit 5-6 distilleries around central KY, learn the history behind the brands, discover the right way to enjoy bourbon, eat some great food, and the best part—bond together as men. As an added feature, we’ll recap each day with some pointed reflection about our experience and what we learned. You’ll definitely want to mark your calendar your for this opportunity. Registration: Thursday, December 1 will open the online signup with a first come-first serve basis. The signup will require a $150 non-refundable deposit (transferable OK). Group size: Limited to 13. If we reach capacity your name will be on a waiting list for either a dropout or a secondary trip. If neither happens your deposit will be refunded. Cost: $450 Transportation: You are responsible to get yourself to Lexington, KY. Group transportation will be provided during our tour days together.