I should have said something.
I shouldn’t have said what I said.
Should I say what I’m really thinking?
Am I the right person to speak up?
When to speak up and when to be quiet is something I wrestle with fairly often. Whether it’s in meetings, over emails, responding to something someone said, offering my input on a decision, or even offering constructive criticism, I regularly find my asking if/when I should say something, and then looking back and wondering if it was the right call.
Several years ago I was in the middle of a season of wrestling over how to approach a very difficult situation. During lunch with a great friend who is a brilliant lawyer in Washington D.C. (and also a gifted musician and worship leader), he gave me some advice that he had once received. It was really helpful.
Here’s what he said:
A friend of mine used to quote another minister as saying that a “divine idea” was “the right people doing the right things at the right time in the right way.” You have to have all of those elements for it to be a God-thing.
You might have a clear sense of what is needed in some situation or someone’s life, but you might not be the right person to share that with them, or to intervene.
Or you might be the right person to help someone, but it might be the wrong time.
Or you might be the right person and the right time, but if you get the solution wrong or carry it out in an insensitive way, it can be unproductive or even cause damage to a relationship.
I have said some really stupid things and ended up complicating matters more often that I’d like to admit. This has happened when I’ve been a volunteer, part-time, and full-time worship leader.
When I speak up, my prayer is that it is a “God thing”, not a “Jamie thing”. I’m learning to take my friend’s advice, and before I speak up, I ask God: (1) am I the right person? (2) Is this the right thing to say? (3) Is this the right time to say it? (4) Am I saying it in the right way?
If God seems to be saying “yes” to all four questions: then I’ll speak up. If he seems to be saying “no” to any of them, then if I’m smart, I’ll be quiet. And wait. And pray.
God’s timing is perfect. Mine is not. And this is a lesson I will be learning for the rest of my life.