It’s been a long time, but I have a vague memory of someone I know falling when we were younger and biting off the end of her tongue in the process. As I recall, the doctors were able to repair it, though, and she has no repercussions today.
On the other hand, I’m arguing in this post that there are times when it might be best if we would just “bite off” our tongue. As leaders, here are some times when it’s best if we simply don’t talk:
- When we want to lash out in anger. Unrighteous anger leaves long-term scars. It’s better to bite your tongue off than it is to wound the people you love and lead.
- When we want to bring up old, but generally settled, issues. We typically do this when we’re frustrated with others, and we take out our frustration on them. Bite your tongue when you recognize where your mind’s going.
- When we really don’t have enough data to respond with wisdom. Most of us, I assume, remember some times when we spoke too soon—only to find out we were wrong once we had more information. Those times should have taught us a lesson.
- When we want to defend ourselves even though we know we messed up. Our natural response is to be defensive in our sin. We blame others or the situation, and we don’t take full responsibility for our sin. That’s simply wrong.
- When we’re tempted to lie. Nobody I know sets out to lie. Instead, the temptation hits when we feel a need to protect ourselves for some reason. That still gives us time, though, to bite off our tongue rather than commit transgression.
- When we want to brag about ourselves. If somebody wants to brag about us, let it be somebody other than ourselves. Our tongues should never boast about our own value, even if we cloak our words in “humility.”
- When we’re getting ready to gossip. Generally, gossip is either about (a) tearing somebody else down or (b) building ourselves up by showing others we’re “in the know.” Both are sin – so do what it takes to keep your tongue silent.
- When we’re tempted to ridicule our children in anger. If you’re a parent, your words can sting and scar. Bite your tongue off rather than let your anger and ridicule harm your kids.
Words can be toxic. What other times to “bite off your tongue” come to mind for you?