One of the most difficult leadership lessons for me to learn and put into practice has been the art of knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet. There are some who might suggest I still haven’t learned that lesson… (smile)
It happened again today while visiting a church while on vacation. My wife and I had a few days off and enjoying the weekend at the beach, and decided to visit the local chapel. During his sermon about Joseph, the son of Jacob (in Genesis 37) he suggested that Joseph “might be a reincarnation of Jesus”. WHAT? Dude, What were you smoking when preparing your notes?
I sat there and asked myself if I should speak to him privately after the service. Did he accidentally say that and not hear himself? Is he an uneducated speaker who wasn’t screened for his biblical knowledge? Is he a member of some non-christian cult?
Eventually, I decided to let it go. Why?
- I have no relationship with him. I am just some random guy who showed up and happens to disagree with what he said.
- I have no authority over him. Sometimes leaders are responsible to correct behavior in those they oversee, but that was not the case in this setting.
- I have not been invited to give my opinion. No one asked me for advice or feedback.
- I do not have any unique influence to leverage. Sometimes we carry unique titles, position, or other credentials that can be strategically used in situations. For instance, someone with a PhD in Theology might have the ability to influence what was said.
- I could not envision any positive outcome. At best, he would disagree with me. At worst, he would be insulted and combative. I could not imagine him to be grateful that I reveal him to be a heretic.
- God did not ask me to intervene. While hard to explain to anyone else, there are times when the Holy Spirit compels me to act. It isn’t emotional, it is an issue of obedience.
Most of the times when I “want to” speak up and intervene…the fact is that I really should keep my mouth shut. I’m not going to change a lot of minds. I’m not going to protect the world from false teaching. I’m not going to do anything but stir dissension.
That is, not unless one of those six criteria are met. If one of those principles had been met, I would have found a way to privately and quietly address my concerns with him.
What about you? Are there any other criteria you would add? Can you keep quiet when there is no reason to speak, or do you speak up anyway?
Thanks for listening.