“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.” ~ Proverbs 10:19
“The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” ~ Ecclesiastes 9:17
Something I struggle with is “unplugging” in the evening. I know I’ve talked about this before, but it seems to be an ongoing point of contention in my life. Too often, at the end of the day, my only thought is to drop into a chair and watch tv or surf the internet (or do both).
This being said, I have an app on my phone that is used to set daily or weekly goals, all of which are health related. They range from drinking enough water to – yup, you guessed it – limiting screen time. I decided to utilize this particular goal for the weeks to come, as it challenges me to unplug for at least two nights a week (and don’t worry, the irony of using technology to inspire me to limit my technology use has not escaped my attention).
Last night was one of my tv and internet-free nights. And I got a ton of things done, which was nice. But perhaps the best thing was that I finally had the opportunity to start reading a book I’d bought weeks ago.
The book is entitled “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” I’ve been looking forward to reading it because I’m an introvert. Most people are surprised when they find this out, because I’m a talkative person, even a drama teacher. But when it comes down to it, I end up on the introverted end of the spectrum every single time I take a Myers-Briggs test. The majority of my friends are extroverts, so for me, reading this is book gives me the feeling of, “Aha! My people!”
What really struck me is the author’s discussion of our society’s movement from what she terms a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality. Before the twentieth century, our country valued character above all else. Hard work and virtue were extolled, and humility was something to be prized. But as the products of the industrial revolution started modernizing America, being able to sell yourself suddenly became paramount. We moved away from valuing ethics and effort, and started putting the focus on presentation and personality. As a result, our society today values the person who talks the most, not necessarily the person who has the best idea.
However interesting all this research is, you can tell this is something that has plagued mankind for centuries. Just look at the sentiments that are expressed in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes – the Bible repeatedly warns us against talking too much and listening too little. In our world today, being slow to speak is not only counterintuitive, in many situations it can seem counterproductive. The person in class who speaks up is viewed as the smartest, and often the person who speaks up at work is seen as a leader and promoted. But always rushing to have something to say can result in hurtful words or, as today’s verse in Proverbs says, endless talking inevitably leads to sin.
So whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, don’t buy into the idea that you always have to have something to say. Take your time and think it over. Our culture may not value the silence that comes with reflective wisdom, but God sure does.