I’m navigating a lot of transitions in life right now. My sweet girl just became a teenager and she’s asserting herself and taking more responsibility for her schoolwork. At work, the Team I’ve managed for the past few years is being restructured. One group has already split off and other individuals are slowly transitioning into new roles with new responsibilities. My part to play in these cases is to support, listen, coach and encourage others to make decisions and solve problems for themselves.
Through these changes, I keep reminding myself to ask questions instead of telling people how they ought to behave. I set little electronic reminders on my computer and phone to keep me in this mindset. Like this one for Sienna: Use information, consequences, choice. Without lectures, micro-management or rescue. I’ve been praying before many interactions with both my daughter and my direct reports; asking God to guide my words and help me to listen first and seek to understand.
Through these experiences, I started hearing a little quiet voice ask “Is it your words you need to change or your heart?”
Saying helpful words is the outward display of an inner state. Trying to speak in a way that Sienna receives as supportive is flat out manipulative if deep down I’m trying to control her behavior. If I want her to feel that I believe she’s capable and can handle difficult things, I need to actually believe it! She reads me like a book. I can’t fool her with fancy wordsmithing (believe me, I’ve tried!).
Reviewing an evaluation at work today, I noted several comments about “choosing my words carefully” which got me thinking. No, you don’t have to choose your words carefully if you change your heart about the situation! You’ll be able to speak freely and confidently, once your heart is aligned with your values and how you want to be in the world.
Reminds me of something I was told years ago, “As long as you know you’re acting in accordance with the Holy Spirit, you’ll never have to fear making a mistake.” Or, as my friend and I remind each other frequently, “Do the right thing for the right reason, and trust God with the result.”
These experiences have left me reflecting on the relationship between our hearts and our words. Trying to change my behavior without changing my heart is not helpful. God wants to change my heart and oriented it toward him, rather than just be a self-help guru to get me through the day.
To drive home the message, my morning Bible reading brought me to Psalm 19 today, which concludes:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14.