“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (NIV)
Church receptionists are some of the world’s most powerful people. Just think about it. If your church’s receptionist is a godly woman, the congregation, visitors and callers benefit from her kindness, wisdom, and patience.
But if she’s a gossip…gracious! Think of how lack of discernment, wicked words and malicious intent can spread. One person in a powerful position can poison the entire church.
Mona, our church’s receptionist, used her power for good! Positioned in an office at the entrance of the church, she greeted every person walking through the door and answered each phone call personally. Mona was not only known as a wonderful receptionist, she was our resident godly woman.
As a young woman in a leadership position, I was advised to seek Mona out as a mentor. It wasn’t long until the tapestried bench in front of her desk became one of my favorite spots. I poured out my heart for the women of our church, and Mona joined me both to pray and to recruit the older women. I approached her with problems, and she helped me find wise solutions. I cried when my feelings were hurt, and she urged me, “Beloved, run to Jesus!”
I learned so many important lessons sitting on the bench in our church’s office, but the most important one was modeled rather than taught aloud.
Mona taught me, a woman who struggles with an abundance of words, to be wise and discerning with words instead. I’ve always lamented that if we were given the life verse most fitting our un-transformed self, mine would be Proverbs 10:19a, “When words are many, sin is not absent”… tattooed on my forehead.
I used a multitude of words but learned from Mona’s judiciousness.
I talked and talked but watched Mona listen carefully to everyone.
I spoke without thinking but observed as Mona prayerfully paused before speaking.
I voiced my own thoughts but responded in awe as Mona often spoke directly from God’s Word.
As time went by, I prayed and worked to emulate my mentor. Although I still wrestled with my words, I became much more sensitive to their power. I tried to follow Mona’s godly example by using words carefully, staunching the constant flow of chat and re-directing potentially negative conversation to a more God-honoring place.
Several years passed, and I thought about Mona’s life-changing influence even as I packed for a move. Before I left for our new town, I wanted to find a gift to thank her for all the hours of her life she had poured into mine. I looked and looked for the perfect memento, until suddenly my eyes lit on the perfect present. There, lying amongst other sparkling pendants, was a metallic, silver and gold apple.
Immediately, I thought of the verse which often came to mind when thinking of Mona, “A word aptly spoke is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11 NIV) I purchased the pendant, wrapped it carefully and took it to the church.
As I gave Mona her gift, my eyes welled while thanking her. Without even knowing, she had taught me the priceless lesson of the beauty of wise words.
Dear Lord, Refine my words until they become beautiful, pleasing to You and uplifting to the people around me. Please help me stop words in mid-breath that dishonor You and tear down others. This transformation isn’t easy, so I plead for Your power at work in me to change me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Note: This is a reprint of an Encouragement for Today devotion I wrote in 2013, but it was something that’s been on my mind since I shared about my friend Mona at a retreat last weekend.
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