The following blog is written by Dr. Rich Frazer, President of SOS International, a global leadership-equipping ministry. He also writes a bi-monthly article for the Desert Christian News in the Coachella Valley.
When Men Say Too Much
I talk too much. I also write too much. For a 650 word article like this, I will write 2500 and whittle out what is inappropriately illustrative, self-amusing or exalting, and extraneous. Real writers call that downsizing, “Murdering Your Darlings.” It’s as heartless as it sounds.
My excessive verbal capacities surfaced again a few years ago during a rather disconcerting encounter with an Arizona State Highway Patrol Officer. While traveling to Phoenix with my good friend from India, the officer pulled me over for a chat.
He informed me of a state law that asserts if a be-lighted emergency vehicle is parked on the side of the highway, it is mandatory, not to mention courteous, for the motorist to shift his/her car or truck over a lane away from that side of the road so as not to pose a danger to inhabitants of the stopped vehicles.
That was news to me.
While the patrolman and I were getting acquainted next to his patrol car, behold, a car and driver in violation of the aforementioned statute sped by us in the forbidden zone – the rebellious driver likely chuckling over my demise. The officer looked up from his notepad on which he was writing a warning, shook his head and said, “There goes another one,” to which quickly I recommended, “Don’t let him get away! You better go NOW and catch him!”
He said not a word. He just gave me “the look.”
I was able to make a comeback, though. I got him laughing and telling me about the interesting and bizarre he has seen on his roadway beat. Then the thought occurred to me – and I verbalized it out loud (redundant, I know), “You could keep yourself busy all day stopping people who don’t know that law.” He nodded and grinned in hearty agreement. I was making a comeback with this guy. And just at that moment there existed the occasion to say no more and save face.
But I just couldn’t keep my trap shut. That would be so – un MAN-ly.
Without skipping a beat or stopping long enough to take a breath, I blathered, “But if you chased down all those cars, then you wouldn’t have time to go to the… (DON’T SAY IT!!) . . . Donut shop.”
Moronic, huh? I know.
That “darling” should have been assassinated. Our fellowship ended. We were not going to be friends. There was no comeback. He would no longer be humored. He completed his paperwork and I would soon be on my way. Before dispatching me he asked if I had anything illegal in my vehicle.
In my final attempt to lighten this awkward conversation, I told him in jest that I wasn’t sure about my Indian friend. I think he was referring more to implements like guns, drugs, rockets. He eyeballed me one more time, shook his head, and assured me he was not the INS.
As he walked back to the car, a verse came to my mind that I should have thought of prior to this encounter on the Arizona thoroughfare:
With many words transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
Men, our words can get us into big trouble! Though our female counterparts get more press as the chattier gender, on average generating twice the number of words per day than the average guy, we still can get into an equal or greater trouble operating at half their capacity.
I think I can save us from a lot of embarrassment, misunderstandings and explanations, guys, were we to heed those words penned by the wisest man who ever lived. Here’s a few bytes of advice to keep us biting our tongues:
Murder the darlings.
When you’ve formulated that perfect retaliatory retort that will put her – or whomever – in her place, advance your competitive edge or stroke your ego, bury it.
Some things ARE better left unsaid.
Swallowing your pride is not fattening. Stifling your self-promoting blather does not stunt your growth. We’re to crucify the flesh (and all that goes with it) and speak “only such a word that builds others up and is appropriate for the need of the moment and will promote grace in those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29).
“Restrain your lips,” as our wise-man counselor tutors, and you’ll be wise. It’s been said that it’s better to be keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
Listen up. Everything you’re going to say, you already know. To learn and gain wisdom, you have to pay attention. To discover and understand, you must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger . . . (James 1:19).
OK, Guys. Get out there and strengthen, bless and promote those around you – especially your children, grandchildren, co-workers, and, especially your special lady – with your timely and well-spoken words
Dr. Rich Frazer
President of SOS International