By Counseling Professor, Nicolas Ellen, Ph.D.
Proverbs 15:28 states “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” Those who are walking rightly think before they speak. Those who are walking wrongly speak before they think. When you are considering others, think before you speak. Effective communication comes when you are seeking to live righteously.
When you are pondering how to answer, you must consider the person you are speaking to. You should ask yourself, “What do I know about this person that should shape what I am about so say?” Also, you must consider the problem. You should ask yourself, “What is the real need or problem, and how should I address it?” Moreover, you must consider the process by which you are going to communicate. You should ask yourself, “Is the way I’m about to speak beneficial to this person?” Most important, when pondering how to answer, you must consider the precepts of God’s Word. You should ask yourself, “What does God’s Word have to say about this?”
The story is told of a student who wanted to surpass his teacher in wit. He had an idea that he thought would do it. He was going to take a live bird and put it in his hand and hide the bird behind his back. He would ask his teacher to guess if the bird in his hand was dead or alive. If the teacher said alive, he would crush the bird and show the teacher he was wrong thereby outwitting his teacher. If the teacher said dead, he would let the bird live and show the teacher he was wrong thereby outwitting his teacher. So as the teacher approached he said, “Teacher, is the bird in my hand dead or alive?” The teacher considered the person, considered the problem, considered the process, and considered the precepts of God and responded by saying “You decide!” Wow! Follow this teacher’s example and ponder how to answer before you speak.