Many of us have regretted sending an email or text out of frustration. Here are some questions to ask to help you avoid making that error again:
- "Am I responding quickly?" Quick responses usually = too little thought about the response.
- "Where's my heart?" By that question, I mean, "What's really going on in my heart? Is my motive pure? My anger in control?" Most of the time, we know when our heart's not right, but we choose to ignore it.
- "Have I prayed about my response?" If not, don't send it yet. Prayer has a way of softening our heart and redirecting our thinking.
- "Am I glorifying God with this message?" We are to do everything for God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31). That means everything, regardless of how justified we think our response might be.
- "Am I building up others with these words?" Following Paul's words would usually save us some heartache: "Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners" (Eph. 4:29).
- "What emotions does my message imply?" It's hard to know how others might read our message, but we know the emotions behind our intent. It's quite possible we're conveying those emotions with our words.
- "Might any of this message be misread?" I've misread messages sent to me, and I've had others misread messages I sent to them. Seldom was I not at some fault, if only for not reading my own messages closely enough.
- "Should I ask someone else to review the message before I send it?" The nature and assumed confidentiality of the message may make that step difficult to do, but it seldom hurts to get another set of eyes on the words before we send them.
- "If I accidentally hit the 'send' button, might I regret it?" That happens, as many of us have learned the hard way. In fact, I often first change the recipient to my address if I'm concerned I haven't thought through the response enough. That way, it will come only to me if I accidentally hit the wrong button.
- "Why would I not just make a phone call?" A phone conversation usually takes less time. You can also eliminate a lot of back and forth messaging, and the tone of your voice can help avoid misunderstandings.
What other questions might you ask before sending that email or text? Let's help each other avoid problems.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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