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The Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue

Written by Dustin Crowe on

Serving others isn’t always easy to do. I’ve been encouraged by many of the ways Dietrich Bonhoeffer addresses this important practice in his book, Life Together. In many ways, his words are like a wrecking ball to the ego.

Yet, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have clear steps for preserving and promoting unity through practicing humility.

Did you know you don’t have to say everything that comes to mind or get in the last word? One way we can humbly serve others well is by holding our tongue. It takes true humility, and the Spirit’s power, to hold back that comment you really want to let loose. Bonhoeffer says:

“Thus it must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

In other words: There is a place for speaking, but we need to be slow to speak and quick to hear.

“Just as love to God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His Word but also lends us His ear.”

If we don’t listen before speaking, we won’t actually know what God might have us say—or not say. This simple act of selflessness goes a long way towards promoting peace as others feel heard and understood.

This article was originally published at

Dustin Crowe

Dustin serves as Pastor of Discipleship at Pennington Park Church, a church plant of College Park Church. He blogs about books, travel, culture, theology, and discipleship at Indy Crowe. Dustin enjoys teaching, writing, and interacting with people through both activities.

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