I watched a video recently in which the speaker urged the “silent majority” to speak up.
While I understood what she was saying, her invitation also got me thinking about the dynamics of silence.
Now, me thinking about things can lead to a variety of scenarios.
If I’m trying to multi-task, that might mean that I put:
- A dryer sheet in the washer.
- The wrong pillowcases on the wrong pillows.
- A double helping of mousse on my hair.
However, when I’m thinking in a more focused way about something like when-it’s-okay-to-do-this-or-that, I usually (hopefully) start with asking God what He thinks.
Since I try not to live in an echo chamber, the other thing I typically do is try to understand various perspectives.
Three camps of silence
When it comes to how individuals decide about being silent, I think it basically boils down to three camps:
- Those who are determined to remain silent.
- Those who may be willing to speak up for the right reasons.
- Those who are going to consistently trumpet their opinions.
That leads me to thinking about what kinds of dynamics influence who resides in which.
Factors that may influence silence
There could be a variety of factors at play, but generally, they may involve things like:
- Personality. We’re all wired differently. Just because introverts are more likely to remain silent on a topic doesn’t mean they don’t care. And extroverts shouldn’t judge them for being true to themselves.
- Stage in life. Older individuals often have the life experience and wisdom that informs whether they should or shouldn’t speak up. Those who are younger may be more impulsive and willing to jump into the fray.
- Life goals. If you’re full of energy and ready to lead new initiatives, good for you. But if you’d prefer to focus on experiencing inner peace, good for you, too.
- Priorities. While this is similar to life goals, what I’m referring to here is that each person’s situation is different. For some, their plates are quite full—as is the case for family caregivers or individuals dealing with health or other difficult issues. When this is the case, speaking up about various things likely isn’t the priority they’re focused on.
- Faith. This one could have many nuances, since there are various types of faith systems that people embrace. As you may know, I’m a Christian, so I live and write from that perspective—which is why I expand more on this below.
- Perceived importance of the issue. Sometimes this is clear-cut, such as the need to advocate for the most vulnerable. Often, this is highly influenced by faith. It’s also a factor that each person has to decide for themselves.
- Fear. Unfortunately, that’s a real thing in the world we live in. Some are afraid to speak up due to consequences that may occur if they do so—which, even more unfortunately may also be a real thing.
- Courage. As you likely know, courage isn’t about the absence of fear, but the willingness to act in the face of it. I’d just like to point out that great acts of courage aren’t always visible. Instead, they may occur within small and individual acts that we’re never aware of.
Balancing silence with speaking up
Personally, I think all of those factors play into finding a balance between being silent and speaking up.
For me, it’s a matter of responding to the Holy Spirit‘s urging to become involved in something, take a stand, or make my opinions more visible in some way.
But to do so, I have to spend the focused time in prayer and study of the Word that’s needed to sense God’s leading.
While there is great power in speaking up, I think there is also great power in being quiet.
In being mindful and measured about how we communicate our opinions and views.
Our country is a mess right now and many are frustrated and overwhelmed.
In such an environment, it can be easy to have a knee-jerk response to current events.
I’m certainly tempted to do so at times.
But when I step back, pray, and wait on God‘s direction, then I can be more peaceful.
Because I’m responding to the Rock of His leading—instead of the shifting sands of my own emotions.
With such an approach, I can better engage with the world in the way God wants me to.
And reserve my focus and energy to exit silence and speak up about the things that matter most to Him.