Would it be too forward of me to say, every Christian should read this book? Well let me take it one further, then. I think everybody should read this book if they have a mouth and intend to use it. Dr. Michael Sedler has clearly and sensitively articulated guidelines, steps and practical solutions for using that tiny little member of the body called the tongue in a manner which fosters growth, understanding and clarity. The title of the book absolutely grabbed me, but then it also delivered. The principles that are shared in this book are simple, concise and powerful. The examples he gives are authentic and he goes on to share not only wisdom but a few personal hard earned and learned lessons.
The opening dedication of the book includes this statement: “I pray this book will encourage each reader to be a to be a voice in the wilderness of life: a voice of reason, of passion, of encouragement of leadership, but most of all, of love and grace.” I believe Dr. Sedler does a good job of communicating, coaching and exhorting how to make this happen in real life.
Some of the topics covered (listed on back of book):
• the cost and purpose of silence
• why to check motives when talking to friends, family and authorities
• how to ask good questions
• ways to deal with anger and resentment
• how to overcome pressure to remain silent
Drawing directly from specific instances in Scripture and the lives of well known Bible figures, he extracts useful directives which we can concretely put into action in our own lives. I loved the examples of communication effectively or ineffectively explored with reference to David, Abraham, Nicodemus, and Jesus. I also appreciated his use of other examples from history and his professional and personal life.
At the end of every chapter there is a “One Final Thought…” which captures the essence of the take home for personal application. This is followed by two pointed questions for personal reflection. Just enough to bring it home! One of these from the end of Chapter 9 really stood out to me and reflects the power of these brief but well thought out statements. It says, ” Before approaching an individual regarding a problem or area of frustration, take the time to pray and be sure you have a right spirit. If you do not have time to pray, you do not have time to communicate with others. (emphasis mine!) Talk about a take home lesson which would benefit all of us!
I appreciated how he also pulled from the pages of history to make the points about speaking out and keeping silent and the impact to others. Dr. Martin Luther King, Corrie, Ten Boom, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Churchill as well as Hitler, Stalin, Khomeini and bin Laden. We see the power and possibility expressed when people speak out for good or evil. We see the importance of wisdom, courage and hope that must speak out for truth and what happens when fear silences the voice of righteousness and reason.
I found this book to be one of the best I have ever read on communication, and highly recommend it.
Not only does Dr. Sedler have a clear grasp on scripture and a background in Social Work, he is an Ordained Minister with varied experience which shines through in this work. In addition to all this his own personal testimony is an inspiring journey of one Jewish man’s pilgrimage for truth. I so appreciate hearing ho God reveals himself to individuals and Michael Sedler share his journey and conclusion in the final section of this book.
Simply put, you will not regret owning your own copy of When To Speak Up & When To Shut Up – Principles for Conversations You Won’t Regret.