Let’s go back in time to when the 4G phone first came out. There was a popular commercial that divided the world into two groups: the cool and the uncool. The cool had the uber fast phones and were therefore aware of everything that was going on, while the uncool were bumbling and stumbling their way through life because their slow phones left them several seconds behind. Furthermore, they were the bane of the cool people’s existence as they must live with the perpetual burden of having to bring them up to speed. The meaning was clear: if you want to be cool and on top of things—get a 4G phone. If you want to be a loser—stick with your older, slower phone. (Of course, we’re in the world of 5G now, but the message remains the same).
The 4G was so overstated it’s humorous (at least the first few times you watched it). The more ridiculous subtext is the idea that more speed (technology), is the solution to our communicative issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for information technology and social media—as long as they’re improving our ability to handle information and communicate with others. But is more always better? Isn’t there some point of satiation where diminishing returns set it and we’re creating more information than we can process and communicating too fast or too much?
Some words of wisdom from Proverbs would seem to suggest the answer to these questions is “yes.” Over and over, we are told to watch our words. “Where words are many, sin is not absent,” (10:19). “He who guards his lips guards his life,” (13:3). “The tongue has the power of life and death,” (18:21). That’s just a sampling, but what stands out when you pore over the communication proverbs is this simple truth: what makes our communication powerful, effective, and productive is not quantity, but quality.
Truthfully, wouldn’t most of us communicate better if we slowed down just a little? What if we made it a practice to think about what we wanted to say, how to say it, and what effect it might have upon those who heard it? The good news is there’s no technology needed to do this. The bad news is that it takes self-restraint.
We live in a culture where self-expression seems to be valued above self-restraint. Speaking our mind is regarded as authentic and real, while weighing our words and sometimes not speaking is somehow looked upon as being less than genuine. The truth is, it is the difference between immaturity and maturity. Jesus held His speech (John 16:12; Mark 14:61). James, the brother of Jesus, tells us “Everyone should be quick to listen” and “slow to speak,” (1:19). The need for speed is not our problem! Sometimes being 42 seconds behind is really being ahead. “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer,” (Psalm 19:14).