How to be Correct without Being Right

I like to be right. I like to win the argument. I like to know that “I told you so” even if I never say it out loud. Unfortunately, it’s not a character trait for which to be proud.

Author Bob Goff wrote in Everybody, Always, “I’ve concluded we can be correct and not right…I do this most often when I have the right words and the wrong heart.”

How many times have I been right in what I was saying but wrong in the attitude behind the words? It’s so easy to do.

I do it when I yell, “What is wrong with you? You never try!” at my son who fails to do his work properly after the third try. I do it when I get into an argument with my husband over why he is driving so fast. I do it when I cut a friend off mid-sentence because she inadvertently gave an incorrect detail in her story.

The problem, of course, isn’t what I know to be true. It’s how I express myself, when I express myself, and, most importantly, why I express myself. My son may need correction, but am I admonishing him in love or in anger? My husband may be driving too fast, but can I ask him to slow down without whining or yelling? My friend may have relayed an incorrect detail, but is it really necessary to interrupt her?

Proverbs 27:17-18 says, “A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

Silence can really be golden. Words are a powerful tool, but they can also be a dangerous weapon. So, this verse makes someone like me think hard and long.

I am a writer and a speaker. Of course, I will use words. Words aren’t just a normal part of conversing. For me, they are my craving, my calling, and my career. There are times I have to speak up. There are times when my voice must be heard. There are times when what I have to say is important.

So, how can I know the difference? How do I know when to be quiet and when to speak? When difficult things must be said, how can I do them not only with the right answers but with the right motivation?

Psalms 19:14 is a verse that I remind myself of often. “May the words of my mouth (or pen) and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

The word “meditation” here carries a two-fold connotation. It includes thoughts of the mind as well as intent of the heart. As such, it is evident that my words are actually a reflection of the things that captivate my mind and my heart.

If I want to speak or write words that carry the heart of God, I have to make sure that my heart is in chorus with His.  I have to tune my heart before I open my mouth. I need to have a posture of prayer before I put pen to paper. It’s a powerful lesson for me to remember, but I think it’s one that none of us should forget.   

Lord, help me be mindful today

Of what I think and what I say

Help me to be right not just in part

Help my words flow from a gracious heart

Lord, place within my mouth words that are true

And help me know what You want me to do

I am your servant, but this tongue is a fire

So, Lord, please make Yourself my greatest desire.