It seems to me that life is often full of people who want to tell me what I should think. From what I should think politically to what I should be buying in the supermarket to cook for my tea. This is more than simple advertising and making me aware of choices, it’s about convincing me that they have the answers to whatever my question might be. In all of this, the challenge to sift what is important from what is unimportant can be difficult to discern due to the overwhelming onslaught of information and the growing decibels that attempt to drown out anyone else who might wish to speak.
In my ministry I often find myself wondering when to speak and when to stay silent. I recognise that for me, fear can be a driving force that causes silence, and ignorance or arrogance can be a driving force that causes words to pour forth.
Martin Luther King Junior’s quote above is a helpful reminder that it takes courage to speak out on things that really matter and are important. Fear of being ignored, misunderstood, forgotten or drowned out by others can cause silence. While overconfidence, ignorance of the needs of the listener and misplaced zeal can mean that words simply ebb away or bounce off their intended recipient.
During a recent prayer time at the office, I found myself musing on the story of Esther and how ‘Uncle Mordecai’ challenged her to use her position in the King’s Court to speak up for the Jews.
If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” Esther 4:14.
It’s one of the classic verses that people present, latching onto the final phrase, ‘for such a time as this’. However, I was initially struck by the first part about not keeping silent when there are things for good that need to be shared and spoken.
There are echoes of Esther’s situation in the challenge to Timothy in Paul’s second letter to him. ‘Fan into flame the spiritual gifts’ and ‘ don’t have a spirit of fear and timidity’.
At the start of 2019 I’m pushing on with all that I’m convinced God has led me to. Time to Share at Home, Time for Toddlers and Time to Wonder. There are other projects waiting in the background that will also come into their own at the right time.
I am intentionally going to be vocal about them with every opportunity that comes my way and not hold back with false modesty or false humility.
We have a generation under the age of 40 who know nothing or very little of the wonders of God. My calling is to find ways to allow them to discover and reflect on the reality of God so that they too might choose for themselves what they will do about that engagement.