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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Vantage Point: A Soft Answer

By Ken Horn
May 13, 2012

Mothers have a way of calming troubled waters, of easing tense situations. My mother was no exception. It’s a talent we all do well to emulate. The Bible advises us how.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1, NKJV).

If there’s anything I have learned since I’ve been in Springfield, Mo., at the National Leadership and Resource Center, it is the truth of this Scripture, the value of a soft answer.

At the Pentecostal Evangel we publish a minimum of 1,664 pages every year (more than 25,000 during my tenure here). And nearly all of them face criticism from someone. And they should. A Christian publication — or ministry — has a grave responsibility, and it can’t thrive without constructive criticism (with the emphasis on constructive). Everyone on our staff has to be teachable. When correction or improvement is offered, we must sincerely consider it.

There are, of course, times when you should speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and sometimes this must be tough love. But the soft-answer rule is hard to beat for good advice.

There may be times when you give a soft answer and later regret that you did so. But regret is far more likely to follow an incident when you responded in anger. And there are almost always consequences that follow this.

I confess that I have written a number of letters and emails filled with righteous indignation … that I never sent. And I’m glad for every one of those “delete” decisions.

If you respond in anger and turn out to be wrong, the situation always becomes complicated. Sometimes admitting you’re wrong can feel surprisingly good. I have apologized many times for being wrong. But I have also apologized for being right — with a wrong attitude.

Silence is the ultimate soft answer. Josh Billings said, “Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute.”

Proverbs 12:16 weighs in with, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult” (NIV).

Constructive criticism helps us. It’s when the criticism is not so constructive that one is tempted to strike back. Don’t do it.

Because striking back does not turn away wrath. But a soft answer does.

Ken Horn

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