What to do when you cannot say anything…

no-talk-mdLeaders will occasionally find themselves in situations where, for a variety of reasons, they are unable to speak publicly about a matter that is directly related to them. It’s not an easy spot to be in. After all, most of us who serve in leadership roles value the opportunity to use words to describe both the situation and they way forward. When a leader is not able to do this, it can be both frustrating and energy-sapping.

When a leader is a writer, the effect is doubled (at least). Those of us whose vocation includes writing find that the act of setting words on paper or on a screen is part of–perhaps most of–the way we make sense of the world. And when we write, we like to share. Those of us who share on a platform like a blog like people to read our writing because we write about things about which we care deeply. We want a large readership because we are convinced that what we’re writing can positively affect the lives of others.

When you’re put in this situation, it’s important to make the best of it and not squander the opportunity to both discipline yourself to act with integrity and to find appropriate ways in which to express your leadership gifts.

So, when you’re constrained from saying anything about a situation here are four things that you can do:

  1. Pray.
  2. Speak with a confidant.
  3. Journal.
  4. Write an article.

Pray. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies” (Q/A 98). When we pray, we pour out our hearts to God in the certain knowledge that He both hears our prayers and will respond to them. As we pray–and as we appropriately use the Bible in our praying–we find that our desires and our perspective becomes increasingly aligned with God’s. We often find, too, that we experience a peace in the knowledge that God is both sovereign and favorably disposed to us because of Christ. In other words: God is in control.

Speak with a confidant. Since we’re embodied beings, it’s often helpful to have a person to address as we process difficult situations that require our silence. Sometimes we’ll have the luxury of a colleague at work with whom we may talk. At other times, we need a discerning friend. Either way, make sure that you are able to open yourself up to someone and in conversation with them find the release that comes with honest conversation.

Journal. The writers among us will find that keeping a journal can serve a similar purpose to speaking with a discerning friend. Some address their journal to God; others write to/for themselves. Either way, the act of capturing on paper the thoughts that flitter around our minds is as liberating as allowing our mouths to form words which are received by another in conversation.

Write an article. Believe it or not, there always comes a time in which confidential things can be openly discussed. When that times comes, having an article or essay that captures your view on the matter can be handy. Simply find a way to publish it and those feelings, thoughts, convictions, and desires that so mattered to you at the time can be given new life.

So, what do you do when you cannot say anything?

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