Something We Could Learn from a Parrot

In Queen Victoria’s Windsor Castle, there was a suite of rooms that were used by her personal chaplain. A private passageway connected the chaplain’s study to the Queen’s quarters. Oftentimes, the Queen would use that passageway to consult the chaplain on important matters. Sitting in the passageway was a pet parrot in a cage.

One day, as the Queen was returning to her quarters after a consultation, the parrot spoke to her. She couldn’t make out what it said, but she knew the tone was rather rude. Curious, she asked the chaplain what the bird had said. The chaplain was very much embarrassed and answered, “If you please, Your Majesty, I would rather not repeat it.” “But what was it?” she insisted. “Something I fear Your Majesty will not like; therefore I hope Your Majesty will excuse me from telling it.” By then, of course, the Queen’s curiosity wasn’t going to be denied. She said, “Come, I insist.” The chaplain then bowed himself and answered, “Since Your Majesty insists, the parrot said, ‘Go along, you ugly old woman!'” Upon hearing that, the Queen burst out in laughter and said, “Well, I am glad that there is at least one voice in the kingdom which is not afraid to tell me what it thinks of me.”

I once heard a preacher say, “Straight talk is easily understood,” and that line has always stuck with me. I am a firm believer that there isn’t enough straight talk in our society these days. We are masters at mincing words. Because we live in terror of offending others, we water down the truth to take the edge off it. This has made us a nation of conversational fakes where everyone is sheltered from uncompromised truth, a country where being blunt is too often looked upon as hate speech.

I have to wonder how God’s Old Testament prophets would fare in modern-day America. Take Amos for example. He called the ungodly women of the northern kingdom of Israel “cows of Bashan” (Amos 4:1). I doubt that he could build much of a congregation with such preaching today. Jesus sometimes preached in that same vein as well. He called the scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:13), “blind guides” (Matthew 23:16), “fools” (Matthew 23:17), “serpents” (Matthew 23:33), and a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33). That’s not exactly, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

I’m not saying that tact and diplomacy don’t have their place. As a matter of fact, they should be the basic rule that governs our words. My point is that we have swung so far in that direction that we’ve just about forgotten the value of straight talk.

So, what do I want you to do with this post? That’s simple: use it as an incentive to be more “real” in your conversations. If there is a problem, say so. If something needs to be corrected, speak up. If a change needs to be made, don’t keep to yourself about it. Vanilla words might allow us all to remain in our comfort zones, but they will never advance God’s work in this world. Sometimes you’ve just got to tell it like it is and let Him handle the fallout.

This entry was posted in Communication, Courage, God's Work, Honesty, Influence, Ministry, Preaching, The Tongue, Witnessing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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