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Zip It, Already!

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“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.

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