I was recently headed to a meeting where I had preoccupied my mind with worry about how it would go. Who would attend? How would I act? And most importantly—what would I say?
On the way to that meeting, I happened to glance up at a billboard that read “Never underestimate the power of silence.” Thankfully, that motto replayed in my mind when small talk didn’t seem to fit the bill. What would have been awkward moments of silence for me, turned into powerful moments of keeping my mouth shut. Sometimes our tendency is to try really hard to find the words to say, just before falling flat on our face because the words don’t come out as smoothly as planned. Those moments where we feel pressured to think fast and speak clear, are often the moments that our silence might better serve us. In times of tragedy or great joy, our first reflex is to spout the cliché that comes to our mind the quickest. The Bible says that even a fool can seem intelligent if he will just keep his mouth shut. Proverbs 17:28. That’s pretty comforting, to know that saying the right thing may not be as powerful as saying nothing at all.
How does this relate to worship?
Sometimes when a visitor comes in the doors church, our mind may start racing with things we could say to them or different ways we could approach them to make them feel welcomed. The task may seem so daunting that not only do we say nothing at all, but we divert our eyes and even go out of our way not to cross their path for fear that we’ll say the wrong thing. When a fellow choir member or church member is experiencing a difficult trial, we may find ourselves at a loss for words. However, the emphasis in Proverbs about the power of silence, does not give us an excuse to gravitate toward the opposite extreme of never reaching out to those who are visiting, hurting, rejoicing or simply existing.
But if we truly can’t think of what to say or how to say it—don’t let our silence be mistaken for indifference, rudeness or lack of compassion. Making eye contact and giving a friendly smile can go a long way too.