“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”
The only way to avoid saying something stupid is to never say anything at all. Perhaps this isn't entirely true, but I bet no person will read this who hasn't said something they wish they could take back. I once asked a woman who was not pregnant when she was due...I wish I could take that back. About a year ago I was presenting a paper that I had written to the class, it was a serious paper about epistemology and the imago dei. It was somewhat technical and involved. In the middle of the paper I confused to words and accidentally said a bad cuss word...I wish I could take that back (I just kept going hoping no one would notice, but apparently they did notice). When you get up in front of people and speak, and you do it for a living as I do, it is bound to happen. Sometimes, the mistakes you make are more serious in their nature.
What a person says is important, this is why James, the half brother of Jesus, warned people not to be teachers and, at a minimum, to be careful with the words they say (James 3). Teaching and speaking is part of what God has called me to do. I still mess up from time to time, and I am thankful that when I do, people tend to extend grace. That said, I have developed a few practices that have helped me to limit those mistakes and I thought I would share a couple of those things.
If I am going to venture into an area that I am not familiar with, I let people know. I am not an expert on a lot of things, neither are you. It doesn't mean you and I are not smart, it simply means we are human.
None of the previous tips are full proof. Check your pride at the door. You might with you could take it back, but you can't.
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.