“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”
— Proverbs 25:11
This timeless verse states the universal truth that we all need to be reminded of: When we choose our words and our tone wisely, our communication is of great value.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of speech. In my quiet time of personal Bible study, reflection and prayer, my focus for the last several weeks has been to relearn what God says about speech that is acceptable, beneficial and even required in order for it to be valuable and effective for good.
Then out of the blue, I discovered that a dear friend of mine whom I have not seen for far too long had recently written a book titled “The Power of the Zip” with the very intriguing subtitle, “Trigger a Tsunami of Transformation — One Conversation at a Time.”
The book cover features a photo of my beautiful friend, author Jill Kamp Melton, with a zipper plastered across her mouth.
Do you ever wish certain people had zippers installed on their mouths that you could reach over and zzzzip them shut when they start using foul language, saying inappropriate things or talking too much? More important, have you ever wished you would have just zipped shut your own flapping lips? I know I have.
Sometimes, it’s a single sentence or sarcastic tone I regret, but once the words have been spoken, they zoom off at the speed of sound, leaving me without any ability to recapture them or know how severely they wounded the hearts of those who were targeted. Sometimes, (as every parent knows and regrets) the shrapnel of ugly speech can even injure unintended victims like children or coworkers standing out of sight but in clear earshot of the conversation.
The Book of Proverbs is rich with wisdom about communication. If you spend time over the summer meditating on this timeless “wisdom book” and combine it with an effective manual like “The Power of the Zip” to help you practice changing your bad speech habits into good ones, by the fall you will find that you are more satisfied in your relationships and more peaceful in your soul.
Proverbs 14:6 says: “Gracious words are a honeycomb; sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Truer words were never written.
Jill brilliantly goes way beyond this important lesson about words, explaining in secular terms the many biblical lessons about speech and showing us how to have truly meaningful conversations. Her wonderful book is filled with “self assessments and worksheets that will help you replace what you ‘used’ to do with what you ‘can’ do using the Power of the Zip and thirty-seven other powers.”
The “powers” Jill teaches us to use in our conversations include how to listen, when to wait before you speak, how to think about and choose your words wisely, how to speak the truth boldly and lovingly, and how to be tactful so that your important points are not ignored due to bad timing or a rude approach. She includes lessons to help us learn how to speak forcefully and effectively from a position of righteous indignation (aka controlled anger) when necessary.
Jill is an excellent teacher with years of experience in providing workshops and personal instruction in the art of powerful communication to businesses and organizations. For example, her chapter on questioning effectively can be tremendously beneficial to employers and parents who want to inspire their teams and children to learn from their own errors. Jill incorporates the ancient Hebrew and Socratic methods of using helpful questioning to teach students to discover truths for themselves instead of merely “telling” them what to think. It’s life-changing, transformational stuff.
I’ve long believed that the Bible includes everything we need to know about effective communication and that studying and applying the way Jesus communicated can transform our hearts and our relationships. Now, thanks to Jill, we have a practical guide to help us effectively “speak truth to power” and more important, help enrich relationships with the people we interact with on a daily basis. Although not a Christian or faith book per se, the foundations of Jill’s tips are based on timeless biblical truths.