Mercy me. It seems like our world is steeped in issues with hoards of people who have LOTS to say. There are daily opportunities to use our voice (especially on social media) which lead to a myriad of opportunities to either get ourselves in trouble or to do a little good.
I’m left with the question, “How can a godly woman speak up in godly ways?”
After almost two years of walking through this process here on the blog with you, we know that there’s a time to let go of self protective silence and to speak. Once we’ve walked through the first three steps of the process below, it’s not only time to speak. It’s a responsibility.
Listen –> Feel –> Do –> Speak
We all know, however, that there are both positive and negative ways to speak up. Here are some ways to keep it positive.
1. Know the Need with Your Name on It
Do you have that friend? You know the one. She’s the one who knows everything about everything, and she’s not afraid to share it. During this season, she’s suddenly become an epidemiologist, a political pundit, and a race educator. I don’t know how you feel about that friend, but I’m pretty worn out with that friend in my life.
I don’t want to be that woman.
Almost every day, I feel the Spirit nudge me back toward my niche. I know that God has given me a specific assignment. As my friend and co-author, Cheri Gregory, says, God’s given me a need with my name on it. In my case, it’s working toward solutions for the racial problems in our country. I’m still in the early stages of that calling, but I’ve now spent almost three years walking through the process above. I’m finally at the “speak” step where I’ve used a private Facebook group to share what I’ve learned (more about that at the bottom of the post) in a safe space, and I’m having conversations with folks in person.
That’s it. That’s the need with my name on it. I’m not called to speak out about viruses or politics except to the degree that they’re part of the race problems. I’m focusing on my niche, my area of calling and expertise, so that the people around me will continue to listen and engage.
You have a need with your name on it too. It might be the same as mine, but maybe yours is to speak up for the elderly, the trafficked, the orphan, the mom in crisis, the immigrant, the woman called to lead, the environment… the list of needs goes on and on. What makes you feel brave enough to step onto a soap box? What stirs your passion and makes you want to leap into action? That’s the need with your name on it.
I don’t want to be “that woman,” the one who spews words and opinions at the world, so I’m limiting myself to speaking up to the need with my name on it. People don’t need to hear what we have to say about everything, but I believe they need to hear what we say about the need with our name on it. Limiting ourselves makes others more likely to listen.
2. Stand on a Biblical Foundation
The first post I wrote as I began to walk through our 4-step process was a reminder to listen to God. Here’s the graphic with an essential principle:
When we speak up, it’s not enough to have strong opinions, we must share strong truths. Those Truths come out of Scripture via the heart of God.
I’ve had some major push-back on some of my Facebook posts recently, and I’ve had to know my stuff. Not only am I committed to knowing the history and discussion around race, I committed first and most importantly to knowing God’s Word about the issue of race.
What’s the need with your name on it? How have you built a biblical foundation to be able to speak up about that need?
When we speak up with Scripture and the heart of God, we stand on a strong foundation that can’t be shaken.
3. Broadcast in Season
A few months ago, my pastor was talking about one of Peter’s major flops that occurred toward the end of Jesus’s life. Jesus told Peter that he would betray Him. In response, instead of humbly asking for courage, Peter argued vehemently. My pastor quoted a commentator who explained, “Peter was broadcasting when he should have been tuning in.”
Ouch. Been there. I know there are times when I’ve spoken up when I should have been listening… or feeling… or doing something. Our process has been linear to this point, but now that we’re speaking up, we’ll find ourselves dipping back into those others steps. Sometimes–in the right times– we’re speaking up. Often we’re not.
Ecclesiates 3: 7b tells us that there is “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” (ESV)
Even when we’ve worked through listening, feeling, and doing, there will be times to stay silent in our season of speaking. Primarily, we tune in, listening to the Holy Spirit before we broadcast. We can also ask ourselves questions like:
- Does this person have enough background/an open heart to accept what I’m going to say?
- Is this the right setting to speak up?
- Am I getting out of my lane?
- Would this be better received in private?
If we’re wise, we’re careful to consider the season and circumstances before we speak.
4. Harness Your Emotions
For most of us, the need with our name on it is an area of great emotion, so it’s all too easy to let passion run ahead of wisdom. Sadly, it happens to me all the time, and this is one of the areas of needed growth that’s become most obvious as I speak up.
One day in my private Facebook group, a member gave me a high compliment. She commented, “Amy, I want to speak up like you. You’re always so calm and factual.”
When I read her comment to my husband and son, they laughed and laughed! Their disbelief and amusement came from knowing the real deal. Here’s my usual, very-human process:
Listen in disbelief –> Explode to the people around me in anger and frustration –> Spend some time with Jesus –> Respond with grace and love.
Although I appeared to be responding in super-spiritual way, there is a key component that comes between my human/emotional reaction and my godly response. That component is TIME.
If we want to be godly women who speak in godly ways, we have to harness our emotions. For some of you, that might be easy. For me (and maybe you?), it’s really, really intentional work.
Did you notice, however, that I didn’t say to deaden or delete our emotions? Even though we have to control them, passion, zeal, and fervor are a gift to our message. They’re the emotions that connect us with other people. We want to retain emotion without letting them run us.
Next week, I’m going to start sharing some interviews with women I admire, women with tender hearts and strong voices. They’re going to give us more advice about how to be godly women who speak up in godly ways.
Do you have a woman like that in your life? What do you notice about the positive ways that she shares?