Judging When It’s Appropriate To Be Silent

Preachers are often an outspoken sort on many issues. Our most public duty is one consisting of speaking. Therefore, our ability as public a speaker is often, though not always fairly, the impression people receive and form of our job performance as a whole.

Some, however, myself included, would do well to realize just how much we don’t know and keep silent. Judging when a situation may be prudent for a minister to stay quiet is something else all its own because there are often ramifications beyond the immediacy of a topic that requires thoughtfulness. Our silence can speak volumes in the same way that opining on issues here or there can wear out listeners. Be quiet, my friend. You can't tell my secrets.

Recently, our town officials have proposed and, I believe, passed a measure imposing a 1% employment tax to raise revenue to increase police officer compensation as well as maintaining the roads, among other items. This has understandably stirred a lot of emotions from people on both sides of the issue. I have hitherto remained silent on the matter, not because I lack a view, but because as a minister I would want any influence I may have to be used to the glory of Christ. If I were I to wade in on this particular issue, I risk alienating some whom I might otherwise serve in a pastoral capacity.

The choice isn’t easy either way one goes because imposing the tax may burden lower waged workers which could create a hardship on them while opposing the tax may not allow for the fair compensation of the police department’s personnel, among whom are officers who are paid much less than they should be. Of course, the ideal solution would be to raise police compensation and maintain the infrastructure while not increasing taxes all around. Whether this is an option or not is beyond my knowledge, since I don’t know all the ins and outs.

This local issue has given me time to reflect on the silence with which I’ve approached the problem. I have had discussions with others on the matter, but I’ve done more listening and asking questions than I have declared opinions. I would only hope that in the midst of such a touchy subject where emotions can run high that I could be a voice that encourages unity despite the outcome. If I were to speak on one side of the issue or another, I might very well lose any sway God may have me use for Him.

There is a time … to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

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