Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ten Habits of a Person With the Gift of Shut Up

Did you know that there is a spiritual gift that is not listed in the bible? It's called the gift of shut up. I suppose it's listed as something more delicate, like humility, gentleness, kindness...take your pick. I like to call it the gift of shut up, as a friend of mine so dearly dubbed it many years ago. She used to say, "I'm waiting for God to give me the gift of shut up."

Oh, if only it was that easy! Losing my words is like losing my footing on a rocky scramble; in an attempt to slow down when I'm already spiraling out of control, my words just tumble over one another, and I'm left at the bottom trying to clean up a mess.

No, the gift of shut up comes only from experiencing the repercussions of not shutting up when perhaps we may have been better off staying quiet. Eating crow. Humble pie. (Why does it always involve continuing to open your mouth and eating?)

If you've been following my most recent posts, you'll remember that a few weeks ago, I got myself into a pickle by insisting that "my way" was better. The Hubs and I were going for a hike, and I was driving. I decided that I knew a more direct way than the printed driving directions, but ended up getting us lost.

The following week, I kept quiet and let the Hubster lead. Except that I didn't like the way he was going and kept thinking that "my way" would have been better.

Well, you know that once we start learning a lesson, God gives us ample opportunity to put what we've learned to the test, don't you?

This past weekend was the 2nd leg of our 72-mile trek across New Jersey on the Appalachian Trail. After working out the kinks the first week, we felt pretty confident that we had this down. This time, I didn't even ask Brian for directions, nor did I ask my phone. I simply followed him (since the AT is a continuous trail, it's always a two car journey that takes a little more time than our typical one car hikes).

I thought I was doing pretty well until he went the wrong way on Route 80! 

Why is he going East? I wondered. 

I quickly grabbed my phone to call him to inform him that he'd gone the wrong way, when God showed up with the gift of shut up! Whattdya know?!

I waited.  The Hubs didn't brake, slow down, or get off at the next exit. He kept going. I still thought he was going the wrong way, but I kept my hand off my phone and reeled my thoughts in.

Shut up! I told myself.

And then I saw where he was going. It was indeed the right way.

Boy, was I ever glad I didn't act in haste. God showed up with that gift of shut up!
In quietness and trust is your strength (Is 30:15)
A second opportunity arose when Brian got into my car after dropping his car off at the end point. He thought I had directions to the starting point, and I thought he had them. We could have allowed the situation to overtake us, and blame each other. But he took the lead and said, "That's okay. I can get them on my ipad." And he did. 

Of course, another opportunity arose. I thought that he had the wrong starting point, but I shut up and followed his directions, and it turned out to be the right place. I'm learning.

As I'm learning, I've discovered ten habits of one who has the gift of shut up:

  1. Being quiet (the obvious) when we would prefer to speak.
  2. Having a right attitude while we decide not to speak.
  3. Not acting hastily, recklessly, thoughtlessly, or selfishly (which leads to speaking hastily, recklessly, thoughtlessly or selfishly).
  4. Allowing others to be who they are.
  5. Allowing others to take the lead and/or take control.
  6. Allowing others to make mistakes, and giving grace when they do.
  7. Allowing others to be right...and wrong.
  8. Choosing not to argue, complain or offer our opinion.
  9. Using discernment, wisdom and tact to determine when to shut up and when to speak up.
  10. Accepting the outcome (and possibly the benefits) of shutting up.
  11. See my blog The Eleventh Habit and BFFs

Yes, this is New Jersey!
When we choose to accept and use the gift of shut up, it may feel stifling at first (because we're not getting our way), but eventually, it's like coming out of the woods to an incredible vista, like this one.

Blessings Along the Path,

Sharing this post with Holley at Coffee For Your Heart, Beth at Wedded WednesdayDeb at Blessing Counters, Arabah Joy at Grace & TruthBarbie at The Weekend Brew, Janis at Sunday Stillness,  Crystal at Thriving ThursdaysWinter at Me, Coffee and JesusSusannah at Faith and Fellowship, Laura at Playdates With God, Joan at Sharing His Beauty, Holly at Testimony Tuesday, Kelly at #RaRa Linkup


  1. I love this, Mary! I think that was exactly my problem in the scenario I described back at my place with my hubby. I just needed to practice the "gift of shut up!" There are so many times that I want to rattle off my opinion or my correction of his way and take us off into a ditch! Thanks for sharing so vulnerably . . . after all, everybody loves vulnerability! ;)

  2. Thanks, Beth! I'm always willing to laugh at myself. If we can do that, then we won't be afraid to be vulnerable because we've already exposed ourselves! Glad I could be the guinea pig! And I loved Gary's comment on your post! I got a kick out of that.

  3. Love it! #2 really hits home for me. "Having a right attitude while we decide not to speak." I think this one is just as important as shutting up to begin with, but can be much harder to practice. Nice post. I love your humor and the practical, attainable habits.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Rebeca. I really believe that finding the humor in a situation helps lower my stress level, helps me look at things from a different perspective, and makes me healthier all around.

  4. It's taken me a lifetime to have the gift of shut up. I'm still a work in progress, but by God's grace much better than I used to be.

    1. It's a lifelong process for some, or maybe most of us, Deb. The day after I wrote this, I blurted out something hurtful and stupid to my best friend, and realized that I'd forgotten a very important habit-THINK! Something that I'm still learning.

  5. I hope I receive that gift one day!

    1. Ask and you will receive! But be careful, because when you ask for something like the gift of shut up, God will give you ample opportunities and situations in which to use it!