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29th June: A Word in Season

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. Colossians 4:6

It seems that wherever there is plenty of stress there will also be plenty of swearing. The bigger the crisis, the more blatant the cursing becomes. Certainly my experience of hospital staff is that no one blasphemes quite so much as those working in the intensive care unit or the labour suite.

When I first became an SHO in obstetrics, the bad language of the midwifery staff upset me greatly. One particular afternoon, when we had been very busy on the labour ward, Sister said 'Jesus Christ' once too often, and I felt such an anger rising up inside that I wanted to take her to task over it. I was about to do so when the Lord seemed to say in my heart, 'no, it's not the best moment', and of course he was right. Sister would have felt very threatened in the presence of junior nursing staff, and , with a mother critically ill from a massive post-partum haemorrhage in the next room it was hardly the right time to give an explanation of the meaning of Jesus' name!

So I waited and prayed that Jesus himself would give me a suitable opportunity to mention the matter. About a fortnight later, when we had no patients in labour, Sister and I were alone on the ward when 'Jesus' passed her lips yet again. To my surprise I found myself gently saying: 'You know, Sister, I think you must be one of the few midwives I've met who talks about the Lord Jesus more than I do!' Immediately the message got across without raising her hostility, and although after that the words would occasionally slip out she really made a determined effort not to swear. Perhaps more important our esteem for one another increased enormously -- so much so that when I eventually left the hospital, that particular Sister had organised a collection for the biggest farewell gift I have ever had, and on the accompanying card she had simply written the words 'keep the faith'.

Hastily spoken words do nothing to further the cause of Christ and Scripture clearly tells us that we are always to be gracious in our speech, never rude. Yet this does not mean our words have to be continually weak and ineffectual. They are to have a real 'bite' to them that gets the point across without being destructive. Let us pray that God will teach us to be truly incisive without being offensive.

Further reading: Jas 3:6-12. Eph 4:29.


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